Are ISPs “Broadcasters”? Canada Will Find Out.
In Canada, the regulatory agency charged with overseeing broadcast distributors, Internet service providers,and telephone services is the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission – the CRTC. You might think of them as the Canuck FCC.
The CRTC has been seeking to redefine Internet Service Providers in Canada as “broadcasters”. They lost lower court battles to do so. Lost appeals court battles to do so. Now, they have their day in Canada’s Supreme Court.
What is this aboot?
If ISPs are defined as broadcasters, they will have to contribute to the creation of Canadaian programming, the way other broadcasters (television, radio) do. Some of their oversight comes in the form of regulation (rates, etc), which they do in the case of broadcasters. Some simply as monitoring the sector, such as ISPs. They want that to change, apparently so they can collect fees from the ISPs.
Back in July of 2010, the Federal Court of Appeal in Canada sided with the ISPs:
“Because ISPs’ sole involvement is to provide the mode of transmission, they have no control or input over the content made available to internet users by content producers and as a result, they are unable to take any steps to promote the policy described in the Broadcasting Act or its supporting provisions,” said the decision. “Only those who ‘transmit’ the ‘program’ can contribute to the policy objectives.”
Of course, CRTC is pursuing this to the highest levels, so today it goes before the big wigs. We’ll see where they come down.