Ottawa – YouTube says Canadian digital content creators, including influencers and broadcasters, could lose revenue overseas if Ottawa forces online platforms to promote Canadian content.
The proposed legislation that would require YouTube and other online streaming platforms to effectively promote Canadian content could harm the popularity of that content abroad, according to a memo from the company, which was offered on the condition it does not attribute it to a particular manager. He also warned that it would also deprive many Canadian YouTubers of the revenue they depend on.
YouTube is concerned that the Liberals’ proposed online streaming law, which aims to promote Canadian content, could distort algorithms used by platforms to align content delivery more closely to users’ preferences.
Professor Michael Guest, holder of the Canadian Research Chair in Internet and E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, believes the bill could have this harmful effect.
“Canada is currently playing in the big leagues when it comes to content creation, a sector that generates billions of dollars in revenue globally,” said Professor Guest. “We are talking about a potentially significant loss of revenue for Canadian content producers.”
According to him, Bill C-11 could cause platforms like YouTube and TikTok to “force a feed of Canadian content” that people would not have chosen to watch in the first place, instead of curated content relevant to their tastes. However, if people do not choose the Canadian content that is presented to them, it may indicate that this content is not popular, which could then lead to less promotion in the world.
No excellent, no vision
YouTube’s cross-border algorithm can detect if a video has been watched, skipped or muted along the way, and whether it has been “liked” or not. This affects how content is promoted not only in Canada, but around the world. So it’s hard to find videos that few people watch.
If people don’t select the Canadian content presented to them, if they indicate they don’t like it or choose another video instead, it could result in an automatic referral of content that in the world wasn’t “liked”, or seen until complete. .
The bill, which is currently undergoing second reading in the House of Commons, would subject online broadcasters, such as Netflix, to the same rules as traditional Canadian broadcasters. This will force online businesses to offer a share of Canadian content and invest heavily in Canadian cultural industries, including film, television and music.
Bill C-11 would bring about the Broadcasting Act, which went into effect in 1991, before the internet revolution, which fundamentally changed the way people listen to music or watch movies and videos.
The law also covers platforms like YouTube and TikTok, which strictly promote digital content creators, such as influencers or YouTubers who post DIY videos and live commentary on video games.
The federal government says the bill will not regulate user-generated material, and will give platforms the ability to decide how Canadian content is promoted.
Laura Scavidi, a spokeswoman for Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, said the law would give online streaming platforms the flexibility “to choose how they contribute and how to facilitate the search for Canadian commercial content.”
Powers of CRTC
YouTube claims that more than 90% of the watch time for content produced by Canadian YouTube channels came from outside the country in 2020. The number of Canadian creators earning $100,000 on the platform is growing rapidly every year.
In 2020, Oxford Economics calculated that YouTube contributed $923 million to Canada’s GDP, including payments from ads accompanying YouTube videos and royalty payments to record companies. Popular videos tend to receive higher amounts of ads, and advertisers also tend to pay more.
Bill C-11 updates sections of an earlier bill, after some feared the government would regulate people who post videos on YouTube.
Rodriguez said the updated bill would only cover commercial social media content, such as professional music videos, and would not include popular home videos posted on YouTube, such as cat videos. Mr. Rodriguez added a line in the new law to exempt such content.
But according to YouTube, the legal evaluation of the current text still gives the Canadian Radio, Television and Communications Commission (CRTC) the power to regulate user-generated material.
said Janet Patel, Vice President of Government Affairs and Policy at YouTube Canada.
“Secretary Rodriguez has made clear that Bill C-11 is not intended to affect digital creators. We are focused on working with officials to ensure that this intent is accurately reflected in this very complex legislation.”
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