What Section 2.1 and 4.1 Means in Bill C-10 With Respect to User Generated Content

Lately, there has been talk about Section 2.1 and 4.1 in Bill C-10. We dive into the meanings of those sections.

For well over a month now, supporters of Bill C-10 have been really unable to conjure up a viable defense of the legislation. We’ve seen articles offering misleading or blatant misinformation on the legislation or articles that attack critics rather than speak to the legislation itself. Really, the hardest thing to do with respect to Bill C-10 is defending it.

Lately, we’ve been hearing rumblings about Section 2.1 and how it supposedly protects user generated content. On the surface, this seems like supporters first viable defense of the legislation. The section in question reads as follows:

Exclusion — carrying on broadcasting undertaking

(2.1) A person who uses a social media service to upload programs for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service — and who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them — does not, by the fact of that use, carry on a broadcasting undertaking for the purposes of this Act.

It’s an extremely easy thing to say, “Oh, well, that exemption is there, end of story.” Not really. The key for this section is the first two words: “a person”. You, as a person, are not subject to the regulations. This section says absolutely nothing about the content you produce.

This difference is compounded by the now removed section 4.1, which we previously noted read as follows:

This Act does not apply in respect of

(a) programs that are uploaded to an online undertaking that provides a social media service by a user of the service – who is not the provider of the service or the provider’s affiliate, or the agent or mandatary of either of them – for transmission over the Internet and reception by other users of the service; and
(b) online undertakings whose broadcasting consists only of such programs.

Do you see the difference? Section 2.1 applies to “a person”. Section 4.1 applies to “programs that are uploaded”. In other words, the content you produce and post is, in fact, regulated simply because section 4.1 has been deleted.

To be fair, this is probably the best attempted defense we’ve seen yet, though who thought this one up is unclear. At the end of the day, the argument that “Section 2.1 protects user generated content” is actually false. It relies on the reader misreading the section to believe that Section 2.1 means that user generated content is exempt. At the end of the day, it’s still misinformation. It’s very clever misinformation, but it’s still intended on misleading people at the end of the day.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.




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