YouTube, TikTok say streaming bill fails to protect creators

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Ottawa –

Online broadcasting giants YouTube and TikTok are asking Canadian senators to take a sober second look at their online streaming bill, which they say will cause major harm to Canadian digital content creators.

TikTok CEO Steve DeAyer said at a Senate committee meeting Wednesday night that the federal liberals’ bill C-11 not only fails to protect digital creators from regulation, it causes collateral damage to them.

He said the Senate should more explicitly exclude user-generated content from the bill, which is designed to modernize Canadian broadcasting legislation and bring online streaming platforms into the fold.

He said senators should also consider rules on how Canadian content is determined, saying that much content Canadians create on TikTok would not qualify as such.

De Air, the company’s director of public policy, said the burden could end up on users to prove they were Canadian, meaning that “established media voices and cultural voices” with more resources could end up front of the line. Government Affairs in Canada.

YouTube CEO Janet Patel told senators that the bill gives too much discretion to broadcast regulators in Canada to make demands around user-generated content.

It said the ruling that a regulator can consider whether someone directly or indirectly earned revenue from content would affect “effectively everything” on the platform.

“This is a global precedent,” said Patel, YouTube’s head of government affairs and public policy.

And she warned that if other countries followed suit, Canadian creators, whose YouTube views come in 90 percent from outside the country, would have a harder time noticing. “There is nothing like this in the world for open platforms. It really puts the international audiences of creators at risk.”

Patel also warned that the regulator could request changes to the company’s algorithms, echoing concerns raised by music streaming giant Spotify during a hearing last week.

This fear is based on commission testimony from Ian Scott, chair of the Canadian Radio, Television and Communications Commission.

Scott told senators in June that the regulator could require platforms like YouTube to “manipulate” their algorithms to achieve certain results.

At a meeting last week, Nathan Wisniak, head of artist and brand partnerships at Spotify for Canada, said the impact on the way the platform generates recommendations for individual listeners would conflict with its raison d’être and could create negative feedback for the songs being played. recommended.

“Requesting services to repeatedly bias recommendations against listener preferences strikes at the fundamental trust we have built with our customers,” he said.

Some Quebec senators have dismissed the notion that requiring an algorithm to drive users toward Canadian content is too bad.

Senator Julie Mayville Dechen said the bill would require companies to choose means to make Canadian artists discoverable. Do you have other than algorithmic means of promoting Canadian content? I asked Patel. “why are you afraid?”

For his part, Senator Rene Cormier noted while using YouTube that the algorithm was recommending English-speaking music to listen to after Quebec artist Ariane Moffat, who repeatedly dropped his name. “I’m trying to understand why you can’t continue with the same kind of music that I’m already listening to,” he said. “Why was I directed elsewhere in the recommendations?”

Patel said YouTube is all about “you,” and that its users train the algorithm to meet their needs — so she recommended that Cormier “know” the platform what he’s looking for. “We definitely want to give it to them,” she said when Canadians come in search of Canadian content.

Although De Air said TikTok was working to “democratize discoverability,” Bernadette Clement, an Ontario senator, noted that “it’s not a democracy if people don’t know how algorithms work.” Patel and De Air responded by saying that their companies provide source code and raw data to researchers.

The streaming companies are recommending specific changes to the bill’s language that they say will allay their concerns.

In June, before Parliament’s summer recess, the House of Commons passed Bill C-11 with more than 150 amendments. The Senate decided not to rush it and instead take a more thorough look this fall.

If senators decide to amend the bill, it will have to be sent back to the House of Commons for approval before it becomes law.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 21, 2022.

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