Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CanCon Online

The Globe and Mail today has an interesting piece on the House of Commons Committee on Canadian Heritage's current study on new media. Google, in response to the study's launch, has let it be known that it sees no role for online Canadian content rules.
Canadian content regulation could apply online in a few ways:
  1. Internet radio and television: whereas the CRTC does not currently regulate online radio and television, they could: at a minimum, they could require traditional Canadian broadcasters to reflect their content quotas in their live online feeds; at a maximum they could require a broader swath of online broadcasters to respect some quota for online video and radio.
  2. Online store displays: many online stores have a front portal that allows much less space for display than does a traditional store; the front page of an e-book store, or the front page of an online music store, allows for the display of a relatively small number of books. These have a huge marketing advantage. Some may or may not have pre-programmed searches or search capabilities that show or help the user to find or prioritize Canadian content.
  3. Canadian commercial initiatives: regulation could encourage commercial initiatives online that showcase Canadian content through, for example, grants, training and networking, or tax incentives.
  4. Search displays: Google, for example, does not seem to have a category of Canadian books in its Google book search. Google's search engine also makes it very difficult to find specific Canadian content, such as Parliamentary records, that it does occasionally have in its database. The government could spur such features along thorough encouraging partnerships, for example, that would see Canadian organizations work with Google to make such features available.
  5. Canadian digitization initiatives: Regulation could very much encourage the digitization of vast amounts of Canadian materials, including the Parliamentary records, archival records, music, and more. The IMSLP is a Canadian initiative to make public domain music scores available online. The project has a competitive advantage over sites hosted elsewhere; it can make more public domain music available because Canada has held fast to its relatively shorter term of copyright protection of life + 50 years. This is an excellent example of how Canadian law can improve online access through regulation - not only to Canadian content, but to all kinds of content.
I think the Heritage Committee should start with 5 (quite important) and work its way down to 1 (not so important?) when it considers ways to encourage Canadian content online.


  1. Google is right.

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