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Canada Is Threatening Content Freedom Worldwide

Bill C-11 has Canadian YouTubers running scared

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Canada is making history and not in a good way. In May, the country north of the largest internet user base passed a new law known as Bill C-11. It's also being referred to as the Online Streaming Act. But what is it?

Bill C-11 is an amendment to Canada's Broadcasting Act and was passed on April 27, 2023. Essentially, it creates rules for online content creators in Canada and brings them under the jurisdiction of Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). One of the things it could potentially regulate is user-generated content (UGC). The fallout from this law could be tremendous.

Image source: Pexels

Why is Bill C-11 Controversial?

The bill primarily targets audio-visual content-producing platforms like YouTube and TikTok. These platforms allow content creators from anywhere in the world to publish their content, and that content is delivered to viewers through platform algorithms. The more of a certain type of content a user watches, the more likely they are to see more of that type of content. Canadian bureaucrats are afraid that home-grown Canadian content producers could get drowned out by content creators from other places. You know, like America.

So what's the answer? According to Canadian officials, the answer is to regulate those platforms to encourage more Canadian content within the borders of Canada. In a word: Nationalism.

On the face of it, it seems like this regulation would benefit Canadian content creators within Canada, but many creators think it will actually hurt them. The BBC explains why very clearly. One of the problems is how the CRTC plans to judge what is Canadian. Evidently, it's based on a points system that would force content creators to prove they are Canadian enough to benefit from the proposed changes. If one was born in Canada, for instance, moved to another country as a child, and did not return to live in Canada as an adult, would that count against the individual creator? No one knows.

The rules haven't actually been determined yet because those details are still being worked out by the CRTC.

How Bill C-11 Could Create a Snowball Effect

That's just one problem. There are many other issues with Bill C-11, one of which is that other countries are considering similar legislation. Both Australia and the UK are considering legislation that would promote content created by native content creators. The problem is that these laws could artificially place content in front of viewers who might be more interested in content produced elsewhere. It would also discriminate against content creators who are not of a particular nationality.

In other words, we're talking about legalized censorship.

Algorithms are bad enough. I've got my issues with them. I talk about those issues in my book Web3 Social: How Creators Are Changing the World Wide Web (And You Can Too!). On top of the issues the algorithms already present, laws like Bill C-11 will put those algorithms into the hands of government bureaucrats to control as opposed to the companies that program them. Again, I've got issues with the algorithms, but these kinds of laws not only violate the rights of viewers and content creators, but they also violate the rights of the platforms to build their own systems in a way that makes the most sense for them and their users. They are triple whammies!

What's the solution?

How Content Creators Can Get Their Freedom Back

As a viewer, you can use a virtual private network (VPN) to make it appear that you are attempting to access streaming content from anywhere in the world. If you're an American, for instance, and you want to watch your favorite Canadian content producer, whose content may not be accessible in Bulgaria while you're vacationing there, you can simply use a VPN to log onto your favorite streaming service from a server in Canada. No one would be any the worse for it. But what can you do if you are a content creator and you want a broader viewership?

In that case, VPNs may not be the best solution. Using censorship-resistant technology, however, would be.

Where do content creators find that technology? For starters, you can read my book. Or, you can check out these 7 censorship-resistant technologies that will allow you to present your content to new audiences anywhere in the world.

  1. Hive - Hive is a decentralized blockchain that allows content producers anywhere in the world the ability to post censorship-resistant content and monetize it. The Hive ecosystem includes four different video platforms, each with its own distinct advantages and culture. For instance, 3Speak allow content creators the ability to upload videos, build communities around their content, and tokenize those communities. Both content creators and viewers can earn for their contributions. Vimm is a Web3 video platform for gamers and independent content creators. Skatehype is a dedicated platform for skateboarders to share photos and videos. Hive-Tube is a peer-to-peer streaming media protocol that gives content creators more control over their content as well as distribution of their content. By installing the Hive-Tube plugin onto your web server, you can distribute your content widely without fear of censorship and syndicate it to the Fediverse.

  2. PeerTube - PeerTube is an open protocol that allows content creators the ability to create their own platforms. If you have a large audience, you can migrate your audience with you, create your own platform, and allow anyone in the world to watch your content. You can also establish your own monetization channels. The best part is it's free.

  3. Odysee - Odysee is a YouTube alternative that allows content creators to monetize their content while earning LBC tokens. Like a true YouTube alternative, Odysee has many categories of video content, such as Pop Culture, Lifestyle, Spooky, Gaming, Tech, Comedy, Music, Sports, and More. You can import your existing YouTube videos and sync your account to YouTube so that future videos you upload automatically upload to Odysee. This will allow anyone with access to your YouTube channel the continued ability to watch you on YouTube while allowing everyone else to view your content on Odysee.

  4. DTube - DTube is another decentralized YouTube video content alternative that allows creators to earn the native cryptocurrency DTC.

  5. Theta - Theta is an esports and online gaming video content platform.

  6. DLive - DLive is a YouTube alternative with multiple categories that allow content creators to earn Lemons, the native cryptocurrency. Popular categories include Education, Games, News, Mature, Family, Politics, Art, and more.

  7. Livepeer - Livepeer is another protocol that allows content creators the ability to build their own platforms. If your content is niche, you might consider this type of protocol, particularly if you have a large audience and there are other creators within your niche. Join together to create your own platform.

Not all of these technologies use cryptocurrencies, so if you have an aversion to crypto or don't like it for some reason, there are decentralized YouTube alternatives that don't involve crypto. If you build your own platform, you don't have to include cryptocurrencies. You can monetize your content in other ways. On the other hand, many cryptocurrencies can be traded, or sold, allowing you to "cash in" your earnings and convert it to your native currency. This can often be done at a very low cost and in the blink of an eye.

If you're a Canadian content creator concerned about how Bill C-11 will impact your income, viewership, and content distribution, I encourage you to read my book Web3 Social and begin to take your freedom into your own hands.

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