Canadian Supreme Court Rules ISPs Not Broadcasters


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Is an ISP a broadcaster? The Canadian Supreme Court doesn’t seem to think so.

Canada’s Supreme Court, in a ruling this morning, says that ISPs are not subject to the same rules that broadcasters are. Cultural groups argued that since ISPs distribute content, they should be considered a broadcaster according to The Globe and Mail.

“An ISP does not engage with these policy objectives when it is merely providing the mode of transmission,” the court ruled. “ISPs provide Internet access to end-users. When providing access to the Internet, which is the only function of ISPs placed in issue by the reference question, they take no part in the selection, origination, or packaging of content.”

If the court had ruled in favor of the cultural groups, it would subject ISPs to levies that broadcasters currently pay. The money that the broadcasters pay go back to content producers in the form of grants to encourage the creation of the original Canadian content.

The case was filed by the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, Canadian Media Production Association and the Directors Guild of Canada and Writers Guild of Canada.

The groups said that they will continue to “press for solutions to ensure all those involved in broadcasting, including ISPs, have a regulatory responsibility to contribute to the Canadian broadcasting system.”