Facebook blocks links to Canadian media after law passed requiring them to pay

Originally published at: Facebook blocks links to Canadian media after law passed requiring them to pay | Boing Boing


So would BB fall under this legislation to pay news sites for linking to the news?


The bill says:


6 This Act applies in respect of a digital news intermediary if, having regard to the following factors, there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between its operator and news businesses:

  • (a) the size of the intermediary or the operator;

  • (b) whether the market for the intermediary gives the operator a strategic advantage over news businesses; and

  • (c) whether the intermediary occupies a prominent market position.

That’s more than slightly vague; but I’m guessing that the BB Data-Hegemons are somewhat smaller than the intended targets. The bill includes a requirement that a list of applicable entities be maintained; but that list doesn’t exist yet; and it was presumably impolitic to just scrawl “PAY UP ZUCK; also I see you there Pichai” on the actual text of the law.

List of digital news intermediaries

8 (1) The Commission must maintain a list of digital news intermediaries in respect of which this Act applies. The list must set out each intermediary’s operator and contact information for that operator and specify whether an order made under subsection 11(1) or 12(1) applies in relation to the intermediary.


Just to be clear, the blocking hasn’t yet been put in place, but will begin “over the next few months.”


I guess BB might want to be cautious about linking to small community newspapers though.

The whole thing is almost incomprehensible in its dumbness. Equivalent to a law telling Google Maps they can’t include the addresses of fast food chains in their search results.


However, google ony tends to post the location, directions, and reviews. They’ll almost always have a link to the webpage for where you are going, and unlike a newspaper, google really only is giving you directions, not serving you the food itself.

Sure though, equivalent.


Couldn’t Canada just make a law saying Facebook can’t block the news?

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If Canada has issue with FB excerpting larger portions of stories than is good they are free to change their laws regarding fair use to limit the size of excerpt allowed. But charging simply to link to a web address is antithetical to the internet itself.


I had reasons (tough comm-link issues) to use FB around 2011-2014 but not since then – I’ve better wireless connections in my current location. How necessary is FB for its users?

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BREAKING NEWS: Garbage Meta products are garbage.


Similar laws were brought in to Australia, though they functioned different (and tended to favour larger players)

Pay to link obviously makes no sense, and the people who demanded it most loudly were the Murdoch types

I believe, though I don’t understand all the details, there is some shitfuckery on Facebook’s part though, with how it manages certain embedded content (through various mechanisms it parasitises the ad revenue from the outlets that provide news on it like instant article).
Of course, best as I can tell the outlets never did have to agree to that bargain, but then you just end up with another monopoly problem, particularly in regions where Facebook is the user interface for many if not most internet users.


This is Facebook playing chicken, and they’ll back down the same as they did when Australia and the UK enacted similar laws. Google also made a bunch of threats and backed down.

That said, this law is a bit of a mess. First of all, it isn’t “pay to link”. The intent is to stop social media giants from reposting the entire contents of CBC articles, which they have been doing. Basically stealing content so they can host their own ads. Facebook wants to have a “news” arm but doesn’t want to have actual reporters or pay for wire services, so they’re just ripping content from elsewhere.

The problem isn’t the intent of the law, but rather how it is written. Right now it’s really vague, and nobody is too sure exactly who it applies to and what constitutes blurbing (legal), linking (legal) and ripping (not legal).

The other part of the law not discussed here yet is the promotion of Canadian content. They’ve expanded the part of the CRTC charter that requires media companies that operate in Canada to promote a percentage of Canadian content to Canadians, or pay into a fund for Canadian media if they don’t. This system has historically worked well to protect us from the American juggernaut, and is the reason we have gems like SCTV, Corner Gas, and Kim’s Convenience. However, whether this idea can be applied to streaming content is a very unclear thing, and implementation will be difficult.

I think this was a good thing to attempt. I think this first law is probably not going to cut it though. This will be revisited to get the details right.


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