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Canada’s Online News Act threatens information-sharing, the online ecosystem, and international trade –

On April 5th, Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez introduced Bill C-18, “An Act respecting online communications platforms that make news content available to persons in Canada”. The bill, dubbed the Online News Act, “regulates digital news intermediaries to enhance fairness in the Canadian digital news marketplace and contribute to its sustainability” by establishing “a framework through which digital news intermediary operators and news businesses may enter into agreements respecting news content that is made available by digital news intermediaries.” In a nutshell, this law forces digital news intermediaries, defined as any online communications platform “that makes news content produced by news outlets available to persons in Canada”, into negotiation with Canadian news companies to make those intermediaries pay to carry news content or any portion thereof (including audio, video, and seemingly mere hyperlinks) onto the intermediary’s platform. In its definitions section, the bill states that news content is made available if “(a) the news content, or any portion of it, is reproduced; or (b) access to the news content, or any portion of it, is facilitated by any means, including an index, aggregation or ranking of news content”.


This Canadian policy tracks closely with the recent Australian framework on news media. Like its Australian counterpart, which Project DisCo has extensively covered, the following will focus on four aspects of the Canadian legislation: procedural concerns, changes to the competitive landscape, trade harms, and copyright and related concerns.

First regarding procedure, the Online News Act requires the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to maintain a list of digital news intermediaries to whom this new enactment applies, giving certain intermediaries exemptions if they already have agreements with news businesses that satisfy certain vague criteria, such as providing for fair compensation, ensuring an “appropriate” portion of the money is used to support local, regional, and national content, and not allowing “corporate influence to undermine the freedom of expression and journalistic independence” (as phrased by its section 11). As was the case with the Australian law, the Canadian bill “authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting how the Commission is to interpret those criteria and setting out additional conditions with respect to the eligibility of a digital news intermediary for an exemption” (Summary-F). In other words, the CRTC and the government are given unilateral power to determine which companies may be exempted from this bill, and those who must follow it.

Second, the bill affects competition in this space, as it establishes a mandatory arbitration procedure to obtain a license to make  news content in general available online even when merely facilitating access to news “by any means, including an index, aggregation or ranking of news content“. Section 21 of the proposed legislation states that an operator of a digital news intermediary “must participate in the bargaining process with the eligible news business or group of eligible news businesses that initiated it.” Section 19, on the other hand, establishes the steps of this bargaining process:

(1) The bargaining process consists of
(a) bargaining sessions;

(b) if the parties are unable, within a period that the Commission considers reasonable, to reach an agreement in the bargaining sessions, mediation sessions; and
(c) if the parties are unable, within a period that the Commission considers reasonable, to reach an agreement in the mediation sessions and at least one of the parties wishes to initiate arbitration, final offer arbitration.

As was alerted regarding the Australian legislation, this bill would provide a great boon to major Canadian publishers, as it would allow these news companies to create a “hardcore cartel,” which “runs counter to all international recommendations that have agreed to limit exemptions to cartels as exemptions generally represent a harmful policy option for consumers.” Forcing parties to either reach an agreement or have one arbitrated for them risks the market economy and may foster a more concentrated news sector.
Third, the bill poses trade conflicts as it is likely targeted at U.S. companies. As noted above, the Canadian government would have unilateral power to designate which intermediaries would be subject to the new rules.  It is indicative from the motivation and legislative history of this proposal that the main targets are U.S. firms.  

Upon introduction, the Ministry of Canadian Heritage cited the online advertising revenues of “two companies” as justification for the legislation. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, Chris Bittle, even stated during the House of Commons Debates on May 13th that:

The way Canadians get their news has changed a lot. Many of us get our news through Google or Facebook, which is okay. There is nothing wrong with that, but the problem is that digital media platforms do not compensate media when they use their content. Advertising dollars have left Canadian media. In 2020, online advertising revenues in Canada were close to $10 billion, with Meta and Google taking 80% of those revenues.

During the House of Commons Debates, on April 6th, MP Patricia Lattanzio asked what the Canadian government was doing to provide a counterbalance to the claim that “hundreds of local news outlets have had to close their doors for lack of revenue, while the web giants literally have a monopoly on advertising revenue”. In response, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said:

The bill we have introduced will strengthen independent journalism across Canada. Web giants will compensate journalists when they use their content, while ensuring a transparent approach that protects the freedom of the press. This is essential for journalism, it is essential for all communities that rely on their local media, and most importantly, it is essential for our democracy.

Further, the  standards provided by the law regarding to whom it would apply are not clear and could be used to target specific companies, doing far more harm than good. For instance, the bill’s section 84 states that the Governor in Council may make regulations “respecting the factors set out in section 6”. For reference, section 6 is the one that defines in which instances the law will be applied:

This Act applies in respect of a digital news intermediary if, having regard to the following factors, there is a significant bargaining power imbalance between its operator and news businesses:

(a) the size of the intermediary or the operator;

(b) whether the market for the intermediary gives the operator a strategic advantage over news businesses; and

(c) whether the intermediary occupies a prominent market position.

This leaves such regulation dangerously at the whims of the dominant political party, who can choose to benefit or hinder certain agents in the sector by changing the factors that determine the law’s application. Targeting new rules to only a subset of intermediaries that originate from the U.S., excluding domestic competitors, conflicts with  Canada’s current international commitments (under the WTO agreements and the USMCA), which prohibit less favorable treatment to a digital product in the territory of another Party, and forbid arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on trade.

Fourth, the proposed legislation invokes serious concerns regarding international copyright commitments.  As DisCo has long argued, the display of a short excerpt of a news report, which is among the broad types of “news content” that the Canadian government wants to charge Internet intermediaries for, may violate the Berne Convention’s mandatory quotation right. Berne Article 10(1) states that:

It shall be permissible to make quotations from a work which has already been lawfully made available to the public, provided that their making is compatible with fair practice, and their extent does not exceed that justified by the purpose, including quotations from newspaper articles and periodicals in the form of press summaries.

However, the Online News Act goes even further than previous ancillary rights frameworks by including text that blatantly disregards Canada’s international obligations by stating in section 24 that “for greater certainty, limitations and exceptions to copyright under the Copyright Act do not limit the scope of the bargaining process.” In other words, potentially legal uses of content that could be made by Internet intermediaries and their users, even something simple like sharing a hyperlink, are curbed by this new law. The public loses as a result, as they might suddenly see the possibility of accessing and sharing content on the Internet be greatly diminished.

Moreover, it is made clear by Canada’s international obligations that limitations and exceptions to copyright allow the limited usage of news content by third parties. Nevertheless, in order to yield to the whims of its news publishing industry, who wishes to have a bigger sway in how their content is shared online, Canada attempts to disregard intellectual property rights in a bill whose main purpose is to regulate the market in detriment to free competition. This is a blatant attempt to legislate around international copyright commitments because, ultimately, the Online News Act intends to “provide copyright-like protection and remedies to something [the way news is shared] that is conventionally viewed to be outside the scope of copyright” (as per Project DisCo’s explainer on ancillary rights). As a result, this undermines conventionally guaranteed rights of users and third-parties alike by removing the effectiveness of limitations and exceptions to copyright.

Fundamentally, this is a flawed law that, if passed , would greatly impair digital services and limit the ability of the general public in Canada to share news content on the Internet. It is also clear that this law is targeted at U.S. companies and does not have a clear set of rules that determine its application, which blatantly violates Canada’s competition and trade obligations. If Canada’s extensive trade obligations, meant to prevent such situations, do not deter it from passing laws like this one, other countries might follow-suit and endanger the integrity of the Internet ecosystem.

Some, if not all of society’s most useful innovations are the byproduct of competition. In fact, although it may sound counterintuitive, innovation often flourishes when an incumbent is threatened by a new entrant because the threat of losing users to the competition drives product improvement. The Internet and the products and companies it has enabled are no exception; companies need to constantly stay on their toes, as the next startup is ready to knock them down with a better product.

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US women’s basketball dominates on international stage – KRQE News 13

KRQE NEWS 13 – Breaking News, Albuquerque News, New Mexico News, Weather, and Videos
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by: DOUG FEINBERG, Associated Press
Posted: Oct 1, 2022 / 12:54 PM MDT
Updated: Oct 1, 2022 / 01:04 PM MDT
by: DOUG FEINBERG, Associated Press
Posted: Oct 1, 2022 / 12:54 PM MDT
Updated: Oct 1, 2022 / 01:04 PM MDT
SYDNEY (AP) — A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart are keenly aware of the legacy of success they are part of with the U.S. women’s basketball team.
They don’t plan on letting the incredible run end any time soon.
“I don’t think we’re showing signs of stopping, that’s for sure,” Stewart said. “We have a lot of people are entering their prime or are in their prime.”
Wilson and Stewart helped the U.S. to a fourth consecutive World Cup championship Saturday with an 83-61 win over China, setting a record margin for a gold-medal game.
“Everyone knows that when you come here, when you wear USA across your chest the (pressure) that comes with it,” Stewart said. “It’s just embracing that. All the legends before us and what they’ve done, how they’ve won. Each team is different and we need to make our imprint on history.”
This team left its mark on the World Cup as one of the most dominant teams in the Americans’ storied history, winning four straight gold medals and 30 games in a row in the tournament. Next up for this group is the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The Americans will be trying for an eighth consecutive gold medal there.
“This is something that’s special to us. It’s not lost on us what’s been done since 1996. I hear about it all the time,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said. “What I wanted to do is make sure this journey was fun. Because I think there’s some times when you have pressure to win or the perceived pressure, it takes the enjoyment out of it.”
What started with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi has now been passed down to Wilson and Stewart. With Alyssa Thomas the oldest player at 30, the domination could continue for years to come.
“It’s been an incredible journey just to continue to lay that foundation down like so many of the greats in front of us have,” Wilson said. “Now it’s our turn to step up and be in that situation.”
The U.S. (8-0) finished the World Cup averaging 98.8 points — just short of the mark held by the 1994 team that averaged 99.1. They won by an average of 40.8 points, topping the amount by the 2010 team.
“Maybe around the world they kind of looked at it and said, ‘Hey now’s the time to get the USA,’” Reeve said. “I think what we showed is that our league, the WNBA and professional basketball players in the United States are really, really good.”
As they’ve done all tournament, the Americans did it on both ends of the court, playing stellar defense as well as using a high-powered offense.
The game was a sellout with nearly 16,000 fans — the biggest crowd to attend a women’s World Cup game since the inaugural tournament in 1953 in Chile.
“You can’t say people don’t support women’s basketball,” Stewart said of the crowd. “If you look at all these people in this arena tonight. There was a lot of people cheering for us and against us, but they’re here watching women’s basketball.”
While the U.S. will be the heavy favorite to win the gold in Paris, there are new teams emerging. China won its first medal since the 1994 World Cup, and Canada reached the medal round for the first-time since 1986.
“I think every team will learn from this experience. You gain a lot of knowledge in the World Cup,” Reeve said.
___
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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New York Liberty, WNBA players populate World Cup rosters – The Associated Press – en Español

SYDNEY (AP) — New York has long been known as a melting pot, a city of diversity.
That moniker also works for the city’s WNBA franchise, the New York Liberty, which has seven players competing in the women’s World Cup for five different countries.
Overall, there are 27 players in Sydney who competed this season in the WNBA, plus a few others like Lauren Jackson, who either played in the past or were drafted but haven’t competed in the league yet.
Before the U.S.-China game, Betnijah Laney and Han Xu exchanged a hug. The two Liberty players are on opposite teams a few weeks after their WNBA season ended with a playoff loss to Chicago in the opening round.
“That’s one of my favorite parts about the New York team, we are so international and we’ve got such great talent from all over the world,” Australian Sami Whitcomb said. “I think that represents our fan base as well. It’s really amazing to come here and still get to see your teammates.”
Laney and Sabrina Ionescu are with the U.S. Han is playing for China. Bec Allen and Whitcomb are with Australia along with New York coach Sandy Brondello and her husband Olaf Lange, who lead the host nation. Draftee Sika Kone is on Mali and fellow draftee Marine Fauthoux plays for France.
“It’s really cool to have teammates here and compete against each other. It’s a great experience for all of us,” Laney said. “It’s definitely something that’s pretty cool to have the diversity and to come together. It does extend to our fan base.”
Whitcomb said that the Liberty players talked about the potential of them all coming to Sydney for the World Cup.
“How fun it would be to have so many of us over here and we were all going to see each other,” she said. “We didn’t know how many people would make the teams, so it’s amazing.”
All the teams are staying in the same hotel near the arena. Whitcomb said the Liberty teammates have been getting coffee with each other in between games.
“It just goes to show we’re very international that’s for sure,” Brondello said. “To get two players on the USA team that’s always hard to break into but I’m proud of those two. They’ve worked so hard to get there and you know the Aussies go without saying but Han is doing a great job as well.”
There’d be an eighth Liberty player in the tournament, but Marine Johannes got hurt right before it began.
New York isn’t the only WNBA team well represented in Sydney: Seattle has five active players as well as Jackson. The Storm’s coach, Noelle Quinn, is an assistant with Canada. The Chicago Sky and Las Vegas Aces have four players each.
The players all also share a common dining room for meals, giving them chances to interact off the court.
“I’m happy to see my teammates playing in the World Cup,” Han said. “Before I only had two teammates but now I have a lot of them on different teams and it’s nice to see them around.”
___
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Zelenskyy calls Russia a state sponsor of terrorism; Biden calls on U.N. to stand with Ukraine – CNBC

Zelenskyy calls Russia a state sponsor of terrorism; Biden calls on U.N. to stand with Ukraine  CNBC
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