Washington — Canada is expected to soon renew legislative debate on Bill C-18, referred to as the “Online News Act.” The Online News Act would impose payment obligations to news publishers on one set of market participants in the country’s news industry, targeting U.S. Internet services.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association has released a White Paper detailing how the Online News Act would conflict with Canada’s international trade commitments to the United States under the U.S.-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), and how the imposition of such a regime would only lead to further concentration in the Canadian news industry.
Digital services help drive traffic to news websites, increasing reader engagement across a variety of news services which boosts revenues for news publishers. CCIA has advocated against previous policies that mandate payments to news publishers for merely linking to other websites, or that depart from commercially-negotiated and voluntary arrangements among participants in the online news ecosystem.
The following can be attributed to CCIA Vice President of Digital Trade Policy, Jonathan McHale:
“It is discouraging that Canada continues to pursue digital measures that target U.S. internet companies, disregarding its commitments to the United States under USMCA. Forcing successful U.S. companies to negotiate payment to Canadian news publishers is little different than the recently-imposed Canadian digital services tax that targets these same companies for payment to the treasury.
“CCIA supports the rights of publishers and content creators to be fairly compensated for their work consistent with current legal and technical norms. However, Canada’s proposal will fall short of goals to revitalize its news industry, and instead will likely lead to further market concentration among few dominant Canadian publishers.”