On 17 February 2021, Conservative Senator Claude Carignan introduced a private members bill, S-225, “An Act to amend the Copyright Act (remuneration for journalistic works)”. This bill proposes to amend the Copyright Act to provide Canadian journalistic organizations with a right to remuneration for the distribution of their journalistic works on digital platforms, such as Google and Facebook. It also proposes to amend the Copyright Act so that the related remuneration is managed by a collective society. As provided in the bill’s preamble, the bill recognizes that:
- … journalism is important in a free and democratic society;
- … there are a number of excellent Canadian journalism organizations;
- … the massive influx of digital platforms and of social media in general has shaken up and disrupted advertising revenue for traditional media, thus threatening their survival;
- … it is commonplace for social media to supply their sites with the journalistic work generated by traditional media; [and]
- … it is essential that a certain equilibrium be re-established by creating a right to remuneration for journalistic works and, thus, a right to royalties for those works.
Bill S-225 has only passed first reading. At the moment, it remains to be seen what later iteration of the bill will look like and how much traction this bill will gain. We continue to watch as the bill goes through the legislative process.