Canadian creative coalition disappointed by Supreme Court ISP decision

Segments of Canada's creative community are expressing concern following the Supreme Court ruling yesterday which maintained that Internet service providers are not broadcast undertakings.
February 10, 2012

It’s business as usual for Internet service providers after the Supreme Court of Canada said they are just pipes, and not broadcasters. But it’s a decision that has left segments of Canada’s creative community expressing disappointment with the legal ruling.

“The principles of the Broadcasting Act continue to be sound but, with this decision, their application remains inconsistent,” a coalition of Canadian actors, directors, producers and screenwriters said in the wake of the high court decision, announced yesterday (February 9).

The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the coalition of an Federal Court of Appeal ruling that ISPs cannot be considered “broadcasting undertakings” under the terms of the Broadcasting Act.

Had the high court sided with the coalition, the CRTC could compel ISPs to subsidize the production of Canadian online content.

That won’t happen now that the Supreme Court upheld the lower court decision and ruled ISPs are not bound by CRTC regulations because they transmit content, and don’t modify or control it.

“An ISP does not engage with these policy objectives when it is merely providing the mode of transmission,” the high court said in its ruling.

At the same time, the coalition resolved to “press for solutions to ensure that all those involved in broadcasting, including ISPs, have a regulatory responsibility to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system.”

(From Playback Daily. Photo: MarcVanDerChijs / Flickr Creative Commons)

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.