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ISPs Are Not Broadcasters, Says Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Internet providers are not broadcasters for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act when they simply transmit content to subscribers, reports Michael Geist. The court noted:

The terms "broadcasting" and "broadcasting undertaking", interpreted in the context of the language and purposes of the Broadcasting Act, are not meant to capture entities which merely provide the mode of transmission. The Broadcasting Act makes it clear that "broadcasting undertakings" are assumed to have some measure of control over programming. ... 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. The term "broadcasting undertaking" does not contemplate an entity with no role to play in contributing to the Act's policy objectives. Accordingly, ISPs do not carry on "broadcasting undertakings" under the Broadcasting Act when they provide access through the Internet to "broadcasting" requested by end‑users.

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