We are continuing to take you inside the Senate hearings on Bill C-11. This is the seventh hearing.
We are continuing our special coverage of the Bill C-11 hearings at the Canadian senate. Today, we are covering the seventh hearing. This hearing kicks off the third week. Earlier, we took a look at the schedule and noted that this week marks the first time Canadian digital first creators are actually being heard. This after numerous hearings from lobbyist organizations pushing for this legislation. So, it made this hearing particularly interesting.
For those who are curious about the previous hearings, you can check out our coverage below:
Hearing 1 – Privacy Commissioner and Global Affairs/Justice Department
Hearing 2 – Digital rights organizations and lobby groups (1)
Hearing 3 – Lobby groups (2) and platforms (1)
Hearing 4 – Lobby groups (3) and lobby groups (4)
Hearing 5 – Lobby groups (5) and lobby groups (6)
Hearing 6 – Music Canada / platforms (2) and lobby groups (7)
That leads us up to this hearing. Digital first creators have not only long been opposed to this legislation, but have never even asked for this. What’s more is that lobbyists have repeatedly dismissed creators concerns as complete non-sense despite how real the concerns actually are.
What’s more is that these same creators have been burned at the House of Commons level hearings when they were openly attacked by Liberal MPs for daring to question the bill in the first place. It was especially shocking at the time, in part, because this is the Heritage Ministry that is doing the attacking – a ministry office charged with promoting the interests of the very people they are launching attacks again. So, it is little wonder why so many are already disenfranchised about the process already.
So, if there was nerves going into this, I can see why. The history is certainly there where criticism of the bill is met with outright hostility even though these are people just fighting to maintain their own livelihoods.
The video has been posted online. While we will do our best to summarize the points and offer analysis, in terms of thoroughness, nothing is going to beat the actual recording and official transcript. So, let’s get into this.
Monica Auer of the Research and Policy in Communications opened with her opening remarks. She says she supports the passage of Bill C-11 if amended. She notes the history of the broadcasting act and numerous points about it’s historical importance among other things. She comments that Bill C-11 builds on the Broadcasting Act, however, there are issues with it. She says that Bill C-11 is neither readily understood, nor coherent. For instance, the legislation empowers the CRTC to regulate content that is uploaded by users both directly and indirectly. As such, she recommends dropping Sections 4.1 and 4.2 altogether. She says that broadcaster operations, not user interactions, should be regulated.
She further comments that the legislation undercuts the premise of giving CRTC new authority by giving Cabinet final say on what the CRTC rules. Thanks to the “repoliticization” of the Broadcasting Act, there will be a further erosion of public confidence and trust in the system. She says 7.7, 10 1.2, and 39.995 should be dropped.
Additionally, she comments that Bill C-11 reaffirms that broadcasters are free to offer differing views on matters of public concern. A late addition by Heritage, unavailable to witnesses such as themselves, testified that Bill C-11 would allow the CRTC to address disinformation and greatly widen its authority on broadcast speech. (I honestly had no idea about secret amendments to this legislation at this stage in the process.) 3 1s5 and d 3.4 i sub 2i and i sub 4 (this might not be displayed quite correctly, going verbatim off of her comments hoping it can make sense) should be dropped.
She then goes into great detail of traditional broadcasting and CRTC authority over them.
After that, she says that it won’t matter if you change C-11 if the CRTC can still ignore the Act. It now holds hearings without witnesses. It withholds information from the public and it even keeps some decisions from the public forever. She calls for greater accountability and transparency with the CRTC.
Pierre Trudel, a Law professor from the Université de Montréal then opened with his remarks. He notes that Bill C-11 ensures that online activities are regulated the same way as traditional broadcasters. He notes that parliament is catching up to how the internet is increasingly being depended on. Since 1991, the Broadcasting Act has required the CRTC to respect freedom of expression. As such, concerns about freedom of expression under Bill C-11 seem baseless to him (might help to pay attention, then.) Section 9.4 of the current Broadcasting Act exempts activities that don’t have a demonstrable impact on Canada’s broadcasting objectives (It’s not the direct impact, it’s the indirect impact).
He says that the exclusions and exceptions only weigh down the bill, making it needlessly more complex. He cites sub-clauses 3.1q and r are welcome.
From there, he says that algorithms are not always neutral. Currently, algorithms can discriminate against certain kinds of content including francophone content and indigenous content (citation needed, obviously). He says that Bill C-11 needlessly forbids the CRTC from demanding the use of a specific source code. He says there is no justification for such a measure (it’s called Canadian Charter). By forbidding the use of source code, it would cut the legs from under the regulator (we live in a democracy, idiot). It is being forced to use the tools of the past to regulate the future, he says.
Irene Berkowitz of the Audience Lab at The Creative School, Ryerson University As an Individual then opened with her remarks. She notes that her remarks are her own and not the organizations she’s related to. She says she believes that legislation should solve a problem the markets cannot. She thanked Senator Paula Simons for asking what problem the legislation is solving. Ironically, the text of C-11 does not solve, but causes problems for producers and consumers.
For consumers, she says, research concludes that consumers do not want government interference. With C-11, it will interfere. For producers, thanks to streaming, Canada’s creative ecosystem is booming. The legacy is that there is more jobs and content than ever before. Producers must be unhooked from traditional broadcasting and there needs to be platform agnostic funding. This requires a rethink on platforms, Cancon, access, and contributions. She thanked Senator Leo Housakos for asking if an athlete is sponsored by Nike, is she less Canadian?
From there, she turned to user generated content and noted that such content adds $1.1 billion to Canada’s GDP and adds 34,000 jobs and growing. It’s diverse without public intervention or funds. It’s additive and complimentary, not competitive to traditional media. Bill C-11 unintentionally strikes at the heart of user generated content – building audiences. She notes J.J. McCullough had rightfully called out this misstep.
She says that to see this success story as a problem that needs solving is preposterous and unnerving. She references another creator (I’ll probably never spell that name right by hearing it) who notes that if content is engaging, it will find an audience. Without special access and knowledge, TikTok was a game changer. User generate content provides creators with free, paperless access to global export.
After that, she called for Bill C-11 to be narrowed in scope, cleanly delete user generated content from the bill, target only gated platforms. The idea is to avoid massive CRTC hearings that will be overwhelming and puts benefits on legacy producers. Just a whiff of paperwork is enough to send user generated content producers scurrying across the border to upload. Without the edit, it’s lose, lose, lose, for users, legacy producers, and user generated content producers.
Then, she concludes that there is no reason to regulate user generated content any more than video games or books. There needs to be harmonization for all players. She also can’t understand why Liberals are protecting big players against the little guys. She says that the word “heritage” is about protecting positive ideas, not protecting legacy business models. ‘How we’ve always done it’ is not wise governance. Her title of C-11 is this: “Past v Future – What Will we Choose?”
Questioning the Witnesses
Senator Leo Housakos started with questioning. He directed the question at Trudel and noted that he testified that the CRTC should not be hindered in regulating user generated content or dictating algorithms. He also notes how he testified about diversity. What is his response to the comments that regulating algorithms will erode consumer choice and trust to the point that they will just tune out the content and platforms altogether? Doesn’t that go against what he is saying about consumer choice?
Trudel responded, saying that for consumers to have choice, there needs to be content available. The Canadian broadcasting system ensures that production can happen. In order for this to happen, the Broadcasters need to contribute to Canadian content. That is how Canadians will have a choice. Otherwise, the only choice they will have is what the international audiovisual sector gives them. That is a partial choice that excludes many types of production – particularly minority productions (Yeah, I’m not following this either).
Additionally, concerns about user generated content seem completely unfounded. Since 1991, the Broadcasting Act has allowed the CRTC to only regulate undertakings that have had a demonstrable impact on Canada’s broadcasting policy objectives. The allegation that the Broadcasting Act would allow the CRTC to be judge and jury of user generated content is wildly exaggerated. This is because, under the act, the CRTC can only regulate content that has a major impact on Canada’s broadcasting policy objectives.
So, he says, either user generated content has a major impact – and in that case, he doesn’t know why it would be excluded from regulation – or the content is the work of individuals and small companies. Individuals entering the production and creation market. So, if it does not have a major impact on Canada’s broadcasting objectives, then it will not be regulated. It seems to him that allegations about C-11 would impact user generated content are entirely baseless.
Senator Rene Cormier commented that orders under Section 9.1 will not be attached to public hearings. He asked what he thought about allowing public access to those orders?
Trudel responded, saying he agrees. He says the strength of Canada’s broadcasting system is strong because of its openness to the public and different points of view. He suspects there was an omission in the bill as it seems logical for the CRTC to hold public hearings before issuing an order – especially an order that would have a meaningful impact.
Senator Cormier noted concerns about freedom of expression. He asked whether the CRTC will be able to deal with creators directly.
Trudel responded saying that, as far as he knows, the CRTC does not have that power. Instead, the CRTC will be able to regulate undertakings, not artists. The CRTC has to abide by the Charter and has to be in line with freedom of expression (the CBC N-Word ruling would disagree with that).
Senator Fabian Manning noted in a submission that Bill C-11 would give the CRTC exceptional level discretion to the CRTC. She takes issue, as does the Senator, about how Canadians are expected to simply trust the CRTC, pointing out how the CRTC has limited reporting requirements and limited transparency in their decision making. He notes that Trudel believes that the bill doesn’t go far enough in regulating user generated content and algorithms. He asked for her response.
Auer responded saying that she recommends removing Section 4.1 and 4.2 from the bill to remove user generated content from the scope of the CRTC’s authority. The Broadcasting Act is called the Broadcasting Act because it regulates broadcasters. Why, then, would we propose to regulate any kind of user?
What’s more, she says, is the inconsistency between 4.1 and the 9.4 exemption power. Either we are keeping everyone in and registering them as users, or we are exempting them because they are not able to meet a specific requirement of meeting a threshold of specific contribution. 4.1 and 4.2 and 9.4 don’t play well together.
She then points out that the problem with CRTC transparency is the fact that it’s not making its decisions public. Every year, it is publishing decisions that you can’t see because there’s no hyperlink and they don’t publish them. So anyone that says that the CRTC is transparent, well, it is simply not. It’s holding public hearings without witnesses. She cites transfer of ownership and challenges the notion that the CRTC is open, transparent, and accountable because it is not.
Senator Manning asked that if C-11 is not amended, how does she see the CRTC enforcing provisions in C-11?
Auer answered, “Any way it likes.” She notes Section 5.2 gives the Commission huge flexibility. While it’s all well and good to say the CRTC must be flexible, when it comes to Section 3.1, especially when it comes to employment opportunities, the CRTC has not addressed this issue at all. She doesn’t know how they are implementing the recommendations of employment opportunity when 1 out of 5 employment opportunities in radio and TV are gone. If these jobs fled to the online world, then good, but why didn’t the CRTC collect data on these issues 15 years ago? We can’t even get the CRTC to implement 9 4 properly.
Senator Manning asked how she feels about the past performance of the CRTC.
Auer said that she thinks the CRTC is a critical institution to serve the public interest. She says oversight is impossible because the CRTC doesn’t tell us what it’s doing.
Senator Julie Miville-Dechene wanted to touch on algorithms because Trudel is an expert on them for a number of years (based on the opening statements, I have my doubts). She notes he said that the government should regulate algorithms, but the government has gotten rid of that power and gave platforms free reign so they cna use their algorithms to achieve the expected results. If we only regulate recommendations and leave algorithms out (how does she think recommendations are made?), will platforms be able to promote minority content? Is it possible to have a place for francophone music without playing with algorithms?
Trudel responded, saying that there should be regulations to require platforms to have transparency to ensure that algorithms used by platforms are created through expertise. It should be possible to carry oversight of those activities. It should be possible that programs accessible by Canadians reflects the objectives set out by the Broadcasting Act. That is the discoverability of Canadian works should be ensured.
He says that he doesn’t believe that the CRTC should set out algorithms itself, that wouldn’t be the right approach (that’s one way to contradict yourself). Of course, algorithms are complex beasts. They need to be overseen and observed like any other entity in programming. He says that we are fooling ourselves in believing that algorithms are neutral tools (then present evidence of that). They are tools programmed to achieve company business objectives.
It would be appropriate to ensure that algorithms are ensuring that policy objectives are met. For example, the discoverability for Canadian content online. Often, he says, platforms show all sorts of programming but under represent minority content.
Senator Miville-Dechene said that platforms have said, ‘hold up, if we take minority content and work it into our algorithms, then content that has not been chosen by the users will be promoted.’ So, if we mess around with the programs, it will actually harm minority content. This is because if it is not clicked on, it will drop down the list of recommendations. What is his response?
Trudel responded, saying that he would say that this is saying that algorithms are neutral by definition – neutral and unbiased. Well, algorithms are biased. Consumer choice does play a role (time then elapsed).
Senator Donna Dasko noted the mention of disinformation. She wondered if Auer could elaborate on what she means by that. She also commented that the CRTC is not requiring companies to employ ‘x’ number of people because they do operate in a competitive marketplace.
Auer responded, saying that the disinformation aspect was a surprise to her because it was not in the bill that was presented to the House. It wasn’t in C-11-1 or C-11-2, it just popped up in the last day of hearings. With regards to community broadcasting, with the addition of this section, you are requiring the CRTC to make a decision on what is disinformation and what is not disinformation. What is the role of community broadcasters.
Now, we are giving the CRTC a huge role in not just what is disinformation, but also local news.
She then tackles employment opportunities. That is in Section 3 1 sub d of the 1991 Act. It also touches on resources for broadcasting programs. There are requirements that ensure that people have equal opportunities within the broadcasting system. They have lost 20% of those in the broadcasting sector. That’s the concern. It’s no that they should be hiring, say, 15 people, but to not ask at all?
Senator Dasko noted that, obviously, the broadcasting system is regulated with respect to Cancon. Does Berkowitz think that we should drop all requirements with regards to the Cancon system?
Berkowitz responded, saying that this is a super complex problem. Removing UGC will allow this question to be looked at in depth. She doesn’t believe that cancon should be dropped altogether, but look at a platform agnostic strategy as employed by other countries.
Senator Paula Simons noted the call to remove Section 4.1 and 4.2, but the government has said that they need to keep these provisions to ensure that they can regulate large streamers who use YouTube like Sony and Warner Brothers. This as well as major record labels who use YouTube as a competitor to Spotify. She wanted a response that this could (stroke?) out major media companies who use YouTube.
Auer responded that when the average person reads Section 4.1 and 4.2, they may read it a certain way and they may not understand the governments intent. At a certain point, the courts will have to handle this. Will the courts be able to understand the intent of 4.1 and 4.2 given the inherent contradiction of 4.1 and 4.2 and 9 sub 4? She commented that one Senator asked for practical solutions. You can tinker with it, but it’ll never be perfect because humanity isn’t perfect.
However, 4.1 and 4.2 introduce such power to the Commission over individual programs. She understands that this does not regulate users, but users programs. Why users programs? If you want to address the large social media services, then include those specifically in C-11 and regulate their activities. She says that she is not understanding how a user should somehow be part of the broadcasting system when we have never treated independent producers as part of the ’91 broadcasting Act system.
Senator Simons said, to plays devils advocate, the government says it wants to include the 50% of YouTube that acts as a streamer. Part of YouTube acts as competitor to Spotify. Is there a way to eliminate Section 4.1 and 4.2 while still regulating that part of YouTube that effectively competes against Spotify?
Auer said that Senator Simons said it three times: YouTube. Regulate YouTube, but do not use 4.1 and 4.2 to purport to regulate the programs uploaded to YouTube. If there are issues with copyright infractions, use the Copyright Act. Use the Criminal Code if there are threats to lives or other serious matters. The Broadcasting Act should deal with the widely available media. Those who provide the content – the single user should not have to feel that they should register with the CRTC.
Section 4.1 and 4.2 are so poorly written. Nobody understands it. (Senator Simons seen nodding) You introduce an unclear writing into an Act and she guarantees that you will give many lawyers a very prosperous life. Not just a few jobs, but it’ll be going forever.
Senator Karen Sorensen noted the comments about the behaviour and performance of the CRTC. She asked if Auer believes that the CRTC is the right body to regulate C-11 or if she believes that the authority should be a bit more limited? She notes the criticism of the CRTC, but asks ‘who else’?
Auer responded that she thinks Canada needs an independent regulator authority. Handily, you have the CRTC there with 400 or 500 people there. She thinks it would be a misuse of public funds to re-invent it. Still, it should be able to report clearly on what it’s doing. She says that she has been studying CRTC reports since 1997. Did you know that they stopped reporting on how much Canadian content was aired on Canadian TV and Radio by type in 2005? They have been providing a financial report card on broadcasters since then. How come they never report that data on programming logs? If 3.1 is all about Canadian programming, why don’t we want to know what’s being broadcast? Why don’t we know how much original news there is? She thinks that’s a serious problem.
As for whether it should be someone else, she thinks that this would be an inefficient use of public funds. You can correct that in the act to require transparency.
Senator Marty Klyne noted a submission that Bill C-11 would chill Canadian media. She also noted that Bill C-11 does not promote Canadian storytelling, it supports the old ways that define our stories. He notes that some critics have said that this bill is being used to prop up legacy media such as cable TV channels or radio stations. It seems reasonable to him that the government should update the Broadcasting Act if it wants to bring online streaming services under the purview of the Broadcasting Act. What can be done to alleviate the concerns of digital first creators and online platforms?
Berkowitz responded that this can be done if we cleanly delete UGC creators from this bill. There can be several sections of the bill that can be clarified (she mentions numerous sections). The truth is that this is a complimentary additive non-competitive gift from the internet. It speaks to the difference between broadcasting and the internet. In fact, the data shows that this sector is diverse – equal, and in some cases, excess to Stats Can without intervention and public funds. She thinks it’s an unnecessary distraction to try and fix something that is actually not broken.
Senator Klyne noted about how she stated that she’s deeply concerned about how C-11 will chill Canadian media, what specifically led her to make that statement?
Berkowitz responded that it’s because of the confusion around the inclusion of UGC creators thanks to the well discussed pretzel logic of 4.2. She says she thinks Canadian UGC creators, especially in the study that went deeply into YouTube, they don’t do paperwork. The whiff of a complicated registration system, they will take the easy rout and go to Buffalo or use a VPN. We will lose the extra addition of this burgeoning, tremendously vibrant, exuberant, creative sector as a result of a part of the internet that is much more akin to video games or books. It’s not akin to broadcasting.
Senator Klyne moved on to how she noted that Bill C-11 does not support Canadian storytelling, it supports the old ways that find and distribute our stories. How is this done now and on what platforms or streaming services and how does the bill not support storytelling?
Berkowitz responded that she thinks the bill supports storytelling that is done the old way. Specifically, Canadian stories distributed on linear broadcasting. There are now lots of Canadian stories that are now being told on places like Netflix and Disney as well as the hundreds of thousands of Canadian stories that are found in the UGC sector. So, we are too narrowly defining Canadian stories and this is something that needs a lot of thinking and rework. It obviously needs to be redefined in terms of access and contribution, but it needs to be done and this is a ginormous job and she’d like the bill to make space for this to happen at the CRTC.
Senator Bernadette Clement said that we all know how black and indigenous people struggle to see themselves represented in all th places and all the rooms. They have tended to support this bill (the legacy broadcasters claiming to represent them have, but that’s about it) and she was wondering what she would say to them. It may be about audience audience audience, but audiences only find themselves in cozy silos where they listen to content from people that sound just like them in their language. What is the response to those stakeholders.
Berkowitz responded that they were remarkably fascinated to find in their YouTube research that, without quotas, YouTube ends up being more diverse – at least equally diverse – and appreciated as such by consumers. You have to review this from the bottom up. She was just reviewing the CMF report and they have a tremendous set of funds to support programs by a lot of equity seeking programs. It is a tremendous aspect of our country that we are diverse and we are proud of this and she thinks that we are a world leader in this.
She doesn’t believe that there is any proof that UGC requires the thumb of government to make audiences embrace this content. The data shows that they do. You can look at a number of creators like the Notorious Cree (she lists of several others) and thousands of others. Audiences authentically flock to good stories well told and authentic content. We need to ensure that there are resources to all equity seeking groups. That is really a precious part of our country that is world leadership and we don’t want to jeopardize that at all.
Auer responded that a CRTC conducted an analysis in 1984 and 1989 to find out the percentage of women that appeared in content and found that there were very few at all. They enacted self regulatory programs and more women ended up appearing on air. If we want to ensure that diversity is reflected, then it’s up to the authority to know what kinds of people are being reflected in broadcasting as well as if there are concerns, to address those. The CRTC doesn’t track things like employment. It doesn’t consider the kinds of people we, today, would be groups that we might think should be considered.
Senator Housakos commented that he sees two different tracks in this debate. There are those who say Bill C-11 protects arts and culture and there are those that say Bill C-11 promotes and protects legacy broadcasters. Which one of the two does this do?
Auer responded that it’s a “two for” question. She says she thinks that the commission decided that bigger ownership would be better because bigger would do more and hopefully better and it did not. That is a problem on the CRTC, not on the Act. So, it can do both. C-11 should not protect any one sector and allow all to play in the same sandbox. We think of Jack and the Giant Killer where you have to kill the big oligopoly. We never talk about how we work with oligopolies to have fair trade and fair measures and equitable discussions.
Trudel responded that there is a need to distinguish the CRTC, which has become quite dysfunctional and is not playing its role, and all of that is to say that C-11 ought to rework the legislative framework in a way that gives the CRTC the tools it needs to oversee the transformation of the broadcasting system as it moves from a traditional environment to an online environment. This seems to be the roll of a bill like C-11.
He said he’d like to say a few words about 4.1 and 4.2. It was not necessary to add these. The Broadcasting Act already excludes undertakings without an impact from the Broadcasting system from the Act. He says he doesn’t understand why Sections 4.1 and 4.2 were added which, as we’ve noted, just adds confusion. (Huh, I actually agree with him on something.)
Berkowitz commented that the bill has trouble embracing the online era. The internet has solved our small audience problem. We need to look at this once in six hundred year disruption and ask what our new problems are and how do we solve them.
The hearing was then adjourned.
One thing I found fascinating, and I didn’t really get a chance to notice it until the end, was the evolution of Trudel’s perspective on user generated content. He seemingly started the hearing with guns blazing, insinuating that user generated isn’t in the bill and there’s no evidence that it ever is. Then, as others talked about 4.1 and 4.2, he ended up agreeing with the suggestion that those sections should be removed because it truly adds confusion and he doesn’t understand why those sections are there. That may very well be the very first time in these hearings I’ve ever seen someone do a full 180 on an opinion like that.
Auer, meanwhile, was just plain fascinating to watch throughout the hearing. I doubt she intended for that to happen, but she seriously commanded the attention of that entire hearing thanks to what seemed to me like an encyclopedia worth of knowledge of not only Bill C-11 and the CRTC, but the history of the Broadcasting Act and how the CRTC regulated things. It almost felt like it got to the point where she could probably end up compelling CRTC Chair, Ian Scott, to make some random Canadian breakfast in bed. Probably an extremely weird thing for that random Canadian, but I can almost visualize her working the laws to make that happen. She was generally really impressive.
It was so impressive, I almost felt bad for Berkowitz who wound up having that “tough act to follow” situation. She clearly had loads of research behind her, yet, how do you even come close to following Auer up? Still, she complimented Auer quite nicely and offered a good deal of knowledge about how minority voices are, in fact, a part of the online ecosystem and not being diminished as some have suggested. This was an aspect I kind hoped to see brought up more in response to the comments that platforms like YouTube don’t support diversity because, well, it does. It’s not as strong of an argument as Bill C-11 supporters thinks it is. So, it was nice to see that argument get another helping of getting pushed back like that.
I think another takeaway here is the repeated theme of how there just doesn’t seem to be a good argument for even keeping Section 4.1 and 4.2. There was a defence in that it’s to regulate the portion of YouTube that competes with Spotify with respect to commercial content. However, this was quite resoundingly knocked down when the answer was that if you want to regulate that content, then do so clearly instead of just scoping in everything else. There are ways of doing that without bringing in user generated content into the fold. Other witnesses in the past suggest bringing in a monetary threshold – fixed or via a formula. Others, including in this hearing, suggested just stripping 4.1 and 4.2 completely, so another possible solution.
Where the conversation was a little light on thing might have been the algorithms. I think the problem is that some people have difficulty in understanding that there are limited spaces for recommendations and search results. If you promote one form of content, then you take away from the rest of the system. Generically now, that’s not that big of a deal because it’s about supporting user choice.
The problem, however, is when the government takes over and says, “no, you must promote this content instead, make it happen.” When you do that, you are taking away a spot that would otherwise be awarded to someone elses content that would have otherwise got promoted through normal means. If there are 10 spaces available and the government takes over 4 of those spaces, the 6 remaining spaces is where the other creators wind up fighting over for scraps – and 4 creators are not going to get promoted at all as a result. This is actually something I showcased early on in the debate, actually.
So, when supporters say that ‘my content was promoted, I and everyone else wins.’ Well, that’s not true because if you got the system to promote you in ways that the algorithm wouldn’t have otherwise found you worthy, then someone else loses. Very easily, that could be another Canadian’s content that doesn’t meet the definition of “Canadian content” from the CRTC’s perspective. It’s the indirect effect on others that has so many people concerned in the first place. If it means the difference between making a full time living off of that content and finding a third job, that’s a huge and potentially devastating difference.
It’s also why, as Berkowitz pointed out, why so many are viewing this legislation as an overwhelming problem that cannot really be overcome. As a result, there are extreme measures being considered such as moving or uploading via VPN. No digital first creator that I’m aware of wants to be part of this system. This disdain is so great that they are willing to go to extreme lengths to avoid it. In cases where content creation is all some of these creators know, it is entirely expected that extreme measures will be employed to retain that livelihood.
Believe me, I know, because I’ve operated an almost entirely unprofitable website for nearly 10 years now just to maintain this, what I feel is, necessary element in the online internet ecosystem. This Bill C-11 pretty much proves why a website like this is so needed these days. As such, I struggle to see how a site like this can remain unprofitable forever. If I can go to these lengths to maintain something I enjoy, then I firmly believe others are going to go through extreme measures to continue to enjoy what they’ve always enjoyed doing.
Anyway, an overall fascinating hearing and very interesting to watch overall.