Timothy M. Denton

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At last: Melanie Joly starting to think about legal reform

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While change is always a risk, not changing is ultimately deadly. So we should welcome the the Heritage Minister's announcement of a policy review of broadcasting and digital industries.    (Melanie Joly, above)

As always, the basic question is whether the Toronto cultural troglodytes will succeed in poisoning the Internet with a requirement to licence websites, instead of adapting to an unlicensed creative commons.

Broadcasting has not been looked at since the last version of the Broadcasting Act was passed in 1991. In that time the protected, licenced,  government-sanctioned system of cross subsidies, artificial scarcities, and economic rents has been under increasingly effective competition from fully Internet platforms.

The Heritage Minister said:

...she is willing to change laws such as the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act, modify the mandates of the CRTC and the CBC, and create new laws or agencies, as needed.

“I look at it this way: ‘If there was no model in place, what model would we create? And given the existing model in place, how do we transform our tools – both regulatory and legislative – to develop this new model?’” Ms. Joly said.

That's the spirit! Mme. Joly is 37 years old, the same age as my oldest kid, so I am hoping for the best, meaning a more Internet-centric view of how culture is propagated these days.

Here are my guesses as to the positions to be adopted by various groups:

  • Newspapers will seek handouts while protesting the do not seek handouts, and will seek to limit the CBC's presence in digital media
  • The CBC will enlarge its online presence, and claim larger subsidies are ever more desired
  • The broadcasters and artists will seek the extension of the state-licencing system over the Internet, saying it is just and necessary to continue subsidies into the future for the sake of Canadian content, as they define it.
  • The Internet Society types will proclaim the triumph of the Internet and seek to maintain the free publishing model of culture rather than the state licensing model of the doomed broadcasters.
  • The people who actually make movies and TV will seek subsidies but adapt to the demise of the closed Canadian broadcasting system.

It should be fun. I am sharpening my weapons already.

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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.

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Guest Tuesday, 12 November 2019
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