Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Canada Cloud Entertainment Your Rights Online

Not Just Netflix: Google Challenges Canada's Power To Regulate Online Video 109

An anonymous reader writes Yesterday's report on the regulatory battle between Netflix and Canada's broadcast regulator has now grown as Google has jumped into the fight. Faced with similar demands from the CRTC, Google has refused to provide it with requested information, arguing that it is not part of the Canadian broadcast system and not subject to CRTC regulation. "The Google position is notable because it is presumably not based on the question of presence within Canada, since Google maintains a significant Canadian presence. Rather, the core challenge will likely focus on whether a service such as Youtube (which once went by the slogan “Broadcast Yourself”) can properly be characterized as broadcasting for the purposes of current Canadian law."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Not Just Netflix: Google Challenges Canada's Power To Regulate Online Video

Comments Filter:
  • by brokenin2 ( 103006 ) * on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @04:43PM (#47988311) Homepage

    From yesterdays post:

    Michael Geist reports that Netflix and Google are ready to challenge it in a case that could head to the Supreme Court of Canada.

    There is a tiny bit of new news here. It's gone from speculation to being confirmed, but really, this is just a repost of the same thing.

    • Not really a repost. The new part is the "presence" argument which takes it from being likened to canada wanting to regulate a store in Germany because a Canadian purchased something mail order once to a "you do not have legal authority" argument.

      The previous argument was somewhat forefront in the other article discusion.

      • Except Google has servers in Canada. So the argument would be more like a German store, but they ship from a warehouse in Canada.

        • That was my point. Without google, its obvious. With google, its changed

          • by rd4tech ( 711615 ) *

            That was my point. Without google, its obvious. With google, its changed

            Switching from Google to (for example) Microsoft services will hurt more Google, than everybody else.

  • Broadcast rights (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Imagix ( 695350 )
    If this is successfully argued, could it then be argued that there is no reason why there are any country restrictions on streaming any sort of media since it isn't "broadcasting"?
    • Re:Broadcast rights (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @05:04PM (#47988475)

      If this is successfully argued, could it then be argued that there is no reason why there are any country restrictions on streaming any sort of media since it isn't "broadcasting"?

      This fixation on whether or not its 'broadcasting' is just a distraction. If the governments wants to regulate streaming video it will just revise the legislation granting the regulatory body authority over streaming video within the country.

      Then what's Netflix/Google going to do?

      Think about it. If netflix gets a pass, then Bell/Telus/Shaw just have to switch from a 'broadcast model' to a 'streaming model' and then they too will be exempt from Canadian Content rules. And they are on the verge of launching their own streaming services as we speak ... hell they all 3 already offer video on demand libraries.

      The result is that eventually nobody will "broadcast" anything, and the canadian content rules will be mooted.

      The end game is either

      a) that the CRTC will be granted regulatory oversight on streaming video providers operating in Canada to enforce Canadian content guidelines in some fashion on all operators.

      or

      b) that the rules on Canadian content will be repealed entirely on all forms of video distribution.

      Dithering about whether or not streaming is a form of broadcasting for the purposes of canadian content rules is just splitting hairs, and is lawyering for the sake of lawyering. If netflix "wins" then Canada can just change the CRTC mandate at the stroke of a pen to include them anyway.

      The only argument worth having is within Canada with Canadians to decide whether Canadian content rules are desirable or not. If they are, then apply them to streaming service operators. If they are not, then get rid of them.

      Its that simple.

      • by sabri ( 584428 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @05:18PM (#47988589)

        Dithering about whether or not streaming is a form of broadcasting for the purposes of canadian content rules is just splitting hairs

        No it is not. When looking a a law, you also have to look at the historic reasoning behind it. Until very recently, broadcasting meant that once you put it on a radiowave or a cable TV system, the broadcaster had very little control on who would receive it. A radio or TV system could receive any content that was broadcast by the sender (hence the term broad-cast).

        The laws that were setup under that system, are meant for that system as well. It provides a clear definition on what a broadcaster is, so that the law would not be used for other purposes.

        Technological advances have changed the landscape, and if the CRTC (an executive branch of government), wants to broaden its authority to 1-on-1 content rather than 1-on-255.255.255.255 content, it should consult with the people first, in the form of the democratically elected lawmakers.

        This is not nitpicking, this is respecting the law as it was written.

        • And there's more than just access control involved as well - I don't know about the CRTC specificaly, but the broadcast regulators are also typically concerned with the allocation of a limited public good, specifically the available frequency spectrum within specific regions. The result is a horrible morass of loosely related regulations that have built up over decades. The optimal solution might actually be to start fresh with a separate regulatory organization specifically targetting the new "broadcast"

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          When looking a a law, you also have to look at the historic reasoning behind it.

          The Canadian content laws are about
          1) promoting and ensuring there is a voice for Canadian culture

          2) promoting and sustaining the film / production industry within Canada (American shows produced substantially in Canada qualify as Canadian content.

          If the technology for distribution of video changes from primarily broadcast to primarily singlecast then the law must be evaluated and updated to determine whether it still needed and

          • But the two are fundamentally different. With broadcast TV, there is a limited number of sources I can access. This still applies to VOD. Therefore, one can reason that requiring something that promotes Canadian culture is a benefit to us, which is what the purpose of the law is. Note that I'm not required to watch any of that Canadian content on broadcast TV or VOD by my cable provider of choice.

            With internet video streaming, I'm not limited to a certain number of sources - in fact, the number of sourc

            • by vux984 ( 928602 )

              With internet video streaming, I'm not limited to a certain number of sources

              Sure you are. Due to regional rights issues, legitimate streaming sites each need the rights to stream to Canada (and any other country, so there is a very limited number of legit places to stream from).

              That is the key difference.

              If that's the key difference, then it may as well be no difference at all.

              • Allow me to correct myself, since you're merely trying to make me say what you're saying.

                With internet video streaming, I'm not technologically limited to a certain number of sources...

                Yes, laws can add artificial limitations. I think whether they should is the topic under discussion...

      • This is the crux of the matter.

        And I honestly couldn't begin to speculate which way the Supreme Court of Canada will decide on this one.

        If I may interject my own thoughts on the matter, however... it seems to me that if they rule that Netflix, et al, must be subject to CRTC's authority if they make their service available to Canadians, Netflix may well opt out entirely of serving Canada. Google might make the same decision. This would be bad for Canadians. If the court rules otherwise simply becaus

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          China springs to mind. I'd be very surprised if the US hadn't made at least some concessions to China over the years to ensure that Walmart stays stocked and iPhones remain cheap(ish).

      • I believe the thought is they can't get the votes to get the legislature to give the CRTC (or FCC in the US) such broad ranging authority and they are exceeding their current legislative mandate. Companies and individuals should challenge government over reach. If they haven't been granted legal authority to regulate something and pass a bunch of regulations the regulatory body SHOULD be slapped down in court otherwise we've got a serious problem with governance and separation of powers.

        • by vux984 ( 928602 )

          I believe the thought is they can't get the votes to get the legislature to give the CRTC (or FCC in the US) such broad ranging authority and they are exceeding their current legislative mandate

          The conversvative party is running a majority government, and the party under Harper very much votes as a block. Further despite the ramblings of idiots saying the CRTC has got to go, there is no real political will to do that.

          "Hollywood North" is a massive industry, that benefits heavily from Canadian Content law, a

    • If this is successfully argued, could it then be argued that there is no reason why there are any country restrictions on streaming any sort of media since it isn't "broadcasting"?

      Not to mention that it would put Aereo.com back in business...

    • In the US, and probably many other places, the original argument for strict government regulation of broadcast goes like this:

      The radio spectrum suitable for broadcast is limited (there can only ever be ~20 TV channels).
      It won't work to have multiple broadcasters competing on the same channel.
      The spectrum is a public resource.
      The public, through their bureaucrats, must choose certain broadcasters and grant them exclusive rights to a channel.
      Because the public is granting the broadcaster exclusive rights to

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        The radio spectrum suitable for broadcast is limited (there can only ever be ~20 TV channels).

        The same is true of cellular Internet unicast video, except there, the limit is on the number of simultaneous viewers in a cell.

        The internet is not a limited medium, there can be millions of channels, and nobody is being granted exclusive rights to anything.

        The ISPs have exclusive rights to the last mile.

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          The ISPs have exclusive rights to the last mile.

          As long as there is network neutrality along the last mile and through to the edge of the customer's ISP, this is a bandwidth issue, not a limited content selection issue.

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          The 'spectrum' or bandwidth of the Internet is virtually unlimited though. You just need to put in bigger pipes and even the smallest of the pipes you can currently get at an IX (1Gbps) can easily carry 1000 simultaneous viewers.

          The ISP's only have exclusive rights to the last mile because we (the people) let them. For the most part, "the people" paid over and over again for this last mile as well as all the other miles (both phone and cable) through regulatory fees but either is being monopolized by a sing

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            You just need to put in bigger pipes

            Bigger pipes for the wireless last mile requires buying more land and appeasing more NIMBYs to put up more towers.

            • by guruevi ( 827432 )

              No, it means investing in better antenna equipment, I can get gigabit speeds on an unregulated frequency, a regulated frequency should be much easier. Japan has 100Mbps to individual mobile devices, setting up P2P wireless links is even easier. Even so, the country has paid said regulatory fees to ensure wired access to everyone.

              • by tepples ( 727027 )

                I can get gigabit speeds on an unregulated frequency

                At 100 km/h with seamless handoff from one cell to another, or just at walking speeds in a single cell the size of an apartment?

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        I don't know which Canadians you're referring to but most of us our just as pissed off at this kind of crap as the rest of the world.

        Canadians (as an aggregate at least -- everyone's entitled to their own specific opinion of course!) don't believe in full on communism any more than the US does. The difference is that we don't believe in full on capitalism either -- lust for money is just as terrible as lust for power when it comes to controlling the lives of your citizens.

        And we fight back when things go t

    • If this is successfully argued, could it then be argued that there is no reason why there are any country restrictions on streaming any sort of media since it isn't "broadcasting"?

      No :)

      Country restrictions don't have to do with broadcast/streaming rights, they have to do with copyright. Streaming is MORE scary to the broadcasters than broadcasting, as they have less control over it. So arguing that "not broadcasting" -> no country restrictions is actually the opposite of what the broadcasters would be likely to decide. They want MORE restrictive licenses for online streaming than for broadcast distribution where they can easily license the few players in each region.

    • by DM9290 ( 797337 )

      If this is successfully argued, could it then be argued that there is no reason why there are any country restrictions on streaming any sort of media since it isn't "broadcasting"?

      the real argument should be whether or not the internet ought to be regulated by the CTRC, rather than some purely academic argument over the definition of "broadcast". Parliament should modernize the law to make it non-ambiguous rather than let the whole country sit in suspense while lawyers argue about what the law ought to mean. Then again Parliament might not want to rock the boat by pissing people off who disagree with a decision, so it might be waiting to see what the courts say and then take that o

    • If this is successfully argued, could it then be argued that there is no reason why there are any country restrictions on streaming any sort of media since it isn't "broadcasting"?

      The content restrictions come from the content provider, not the streamer. Netflix Canada is less good than Netflix USA because the companies that provide content to Netflix say "You can't show this content in Canada."

      • And strangely, Netflix USA has plenty of Canadian content. The problem is the middlemen. The content creators shop their works around to distributors. The distributors sign licenses for their country. Then, when Netflix comes along, the distributors all have exclusive rights by country. Netflix is forced to sign with multiple distributors to have the same content in multiple countries.

  • light it with a Google?
  • Tell me why that first link has to lead to that beta junk. Couldn't you just make it point to goase, it would've been less painful to the eye.

  • by wbr1 ( 2538558 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @05:18PM (#47988591)
    I can see regulating limited spectrum, but streaming is different. Limiting streaming is corporate protectionism at best and censorship at worst.
    • While I agree completely with what you're saying, it can be argued that the Canadian content rule has the exact same result. The difference is, one is limited and corporate controlled. The other is much less limited and generally user controlled.

  • by Bruce66423 ( 1678196 ) on Wednesday September 24, 2014 @05:20PM (#47988627)
    The purpose of the BROADCAST regulator derives, historically, from the limited number of channels available on TV, so it was argued that there was a public interest in controlling who put what on the air. The internet is surely more like the press, where there are no such limitations, so there is no justification for regulation. That the broadcast regulator is trying to butt into internet activities does seem like mission creep - always popular with the regulators as generating more jobs for their people, and with politicians who gain some leverage over the media. NOT good for freedom of speech however...
    • Time and Life magazines used to have to publish Canadian versions of their magazines for the Canadian market, with Canadian content because these protectionist measures most certainly DID have such limitations placed upon them.
      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Magazines are a terrible example. They're no different than broadcast television from a content perspective -- some small number of people put in articles which are read by a large number of people.

        A single magazine is more comparable to a single channel on TV -- nobody's forcing you to watch (read) that channel (magazine), but if you decide to do so you're stuck watching (reading) whatever the content provider happened to shove in there.

        Direct streaming's most comparable business model from the past would

    • by dbc ( 135354 )

      You're argument is similar to what is listed in: http://legal-dictionary.thefre... [thefreedictionary.com] as the US legal definition. However, http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca... [justice.gc.ca] shows that the Canadian definition is even more tightly tied to transmission by radio waves than the US definition:

      “broadcasting” means any transmission of programs, whether or not encrypted, by radio waves or other means of telecommunication for reception by the public by means of broadcasting receiving apparatus, but does not include any such transmission of programs that is made solely for performance or display in a public place;

      • I would personally call "other means of telecommunication" another name for "The Internet." A broadcast receiving apparatus could be a Roku if a computer is not specific enough.

        Then again, here in the US, the Internet isn't considered telecommunication. Otherwise, net neutrality would have taken hold long ago and cable Internet customers would be paying into a Universal Service Fund to expand broadband to rural areas.

        • by dbc ( 135354 )

          Go read the whole thing at the link I posted. The Canadian law is pretty clear about there being RF transmissions involved.

    • In Canada it is a bit more complicated. We have a policy here which mandates that a certain percentage of all broadcast media be Canadian content (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_content).

      It means that radio stations have to play Canadian music, and that television networks must show Canadian shows.

      As you can imagine, there are strong opinions about this. For example, what constitutes Canadian content? If it is an American made show that is shot on Canadian soil (Toronto playing the role of Big-
      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        This isn't the problem at hand though. The problem at hand is that the incumbent broadcasters are also required to dump a certain amount of money into a public pot which then is used to fund Canadian media and arts. Currently Netflix and Youtube and similar are exempt from this tariff and since our incumbents are all pissy about Netflix (in particular,) they're trying to push anything they can to force Netflix to either (significantly) raise their prices or leave Canada all together.

        This is just one small

        • Interesting. I didn't realize it was the tariff that was the issue (for the moment at least). To be honest, I am OK with a tax of something like $1 / month that goes toward producing Canadian content. And something like an on-demand model, where my vote is recorded based on what I watch, seems like a decent way of deciding which content is supported. I agree with you that this current business has less to do with supporting Canadian content, and more to do with the fact that incumbents are scared by Netfl
          • by Altrag ( 195300 )

            I think the tariff is like 2% or something, so way way less than $1 on a $9 sub. But you multiply that by the #subs that Netflix has and it starts adding up.

            As for the CRTC.. there's definitely some cronies going on there, but the past couple of years there's been enough citizen upheaval (I can't post the openmedia.ca website enough! lol) that they actually spend time considering what they're doing now rather than blindly going with the big media companies. Not that they don't still fall on that side of t

  • Google and Netflix just need to pay off the right politicians and all of this will go away.
    • The lobbyists working for the cable industry beat them to it. They're not going to win on that front. Public opinion might be the one big move they have, and so they're trying to get into the news about the issue.

  • It's time to kill this CRTC body and spend the taxpayer's money on real issues.
  • Netflix already offers LOTS of Canadian content - I'm sure it wouldn't be that hard to just say, film "Jessica Drew" in Vancouver and call it a day. It might FEEL like a pain in Netflix's ass, but as long as things like X-Files (mostly filmed in Vancouver using many Canadian actors) and Seth Rogan movies count toward Canadian Content, it's probably not that hard.

The Tao is like a stack: the data changes but not the structure. the more you use it, the deeper it becomes; the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

Working...