As content creators await the passing of Bill C-11, some say it’s still too ambiguous

It’s been years since he’s sat in a classroom working on how a bill would become law, but over the past few months, Nathan Kennedy has taken an unexpected crash course in politics as proposed online streaming legislation It is being passed by the House of Commons and the Senate.

The Hamilton, Ont., content creator found himself forced into parliamentary proceedings over the potential impact of Bill C-11 on his livelihood.

“I want to understand what the implications are for me more broadly, whether it’s on TikTok or YouTube, because it impacts my business, the people I do business with, and my ability to attract sponsors in international markets,” Kennedy said. force.”

He is known as @newmoneynate to his 600,000 followers across various platforms.

In 2021, he started making enough money talking online about personal finance that he quit his full-time job as a regional manager.

Bill C-11 is awaiting a final vote in the Senate and could become law within the next few weeks.

But even after nearly a year of debate and revisions, some content creators say the proposed law is so vague that they can’t vouch for what it means for them.

“The government has failed to provide the industry with any meaningful information about the practical application of this proposed law,” said Kai Hutchence, CEO of Regina-based Massive Corporation Game Studios.

“They said a lot, but most of it was very vague. They didn’t provide a clear example of what they would do on a given platform.”

Hutchence relies heavily on YouTube to promote digital products to international clients.

The bill would require big tech companies that offer online streaming services — such as YouTube, Netflix and Spotify — to contribute to and improve discoverability of Canadian content, making CanCon easier to find through search engines, apps and websites.

If companies fail to comply, they could face severe penalties from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which will enforce the new rules.

“A lot of people have an existential fear of being in some sense constrained by some governing body,” Kennedy said.

“There’s also collateral damage — called creators — that could be affected by this.”

Over the past year, it has become common for content creators to seek advice from each other. Some have flown to Ottawa to speak with lawmakers. Others even considered moving to the United States.

Google Trends, a website that tracks popular searches, shows that interest in Bill C-11 has increased over the last year, with people asking if it passed and why it wasn’t good.

The creators say there is disinformation about what it all means, and that the debate has been politicized, with some opposing the changes branded as conservatives.

“The anxiety (the bill) is causing among creators cannot be underestimated,” LGBTQ content creator JJ McCullough said from his Vancouver home.

“I think one of the things that a lot of (internet) creators feel deeply is that they don’t want to live in a regulatory framework that regulates television and radio in this country.”

Like McCullough, some who have built careers on the Internet say they did so in a free-enterprise model that worked and didn’t need fixing.

“I became popular by making content that people wanted to watch, simple as that. It’s the only way you can be popular on YouTube,” said McCullough, who expressed his concerns about the law to parliament.

“The success or failure of the content we hope to produce depends on the tastes of a global audience, not Ottawa’s perception of the right type of content for Canadians to consume. We find this very paternalistic, political, ideological and condescending.”

Kennedy worried that discoverability requirements would affect his business model. If his videos don’t meet future CanCon standards, he said they could be deprioritized by tech companies.

“A lot of times, if you don’t do well domestically, you may not be successful internationally,” he said.

Hutchins said the whole process showed him that government “has become completely impersonal.”

“The people in power do whatever they want. There’s no process to involve us,” Hutchence said.

Kennedy said he has accepted the bill will pass, but he still wants the CRTC to work with content creators before it begins regulating the internet.

“It does make going to the U.S. more attractive,” he said.

“People don’t really see content creators as a career, and if there are better career opportunities in the US, then I have to think about that.”

—Mickey Djuric, Canadian Press

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