The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel

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The New Corporation vs. Twitter

  • $14,300 Raised of $500,000 Goal

We have launched a constitutional challenge against Twitter and the Canadian government for failing to protect freedom of expression and democracy over refusal to allow ads about our Canadian documentary – The New Corporation.

The Lawsuit

Twitter Gone Rogue: Who governs content in Canada? Lawsuit from Joel Bakan and Sujit Choudhry argues democracy is under assault by Big Tech policies.

“The film is about the urgent need for more robust democracy and greater democratic control of corporations – including big tech. If Twitter doesn’t want people to know about this film, what else will it censor?” said Joel Bakan, writer, co-director (with Jennifer Abbott), and executive producer of The New Corporation, and part of the legal team.

Filmmaker, author, lawyer Joel Bakan – who was part of the the team behind the global documentaries The Corporation (the highest grossing documentary in Canadian history) and now is co-director and author of  The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel, is suing Twitter and the Canadian government in a landmark case to establish responsibilities of tech platforms.

“What needs to be protected is speech that lies at the heart of our democratic discourse: speech about ideas, speech about social justice and social injustice – what our Supreme Court has identified as very high valued speech,” says Bakan in an interview with Law Times

It all started when Twitter refused to let us buy and ad for the trailer for The New Corporation.  Twitter claimed the posts were too “political,” “sensitive,” and “inappropriate” to be promoted on its platform. The posts feature clips and voiceover from, among other notable commentators, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Michael Sandel, Vandana Shiva, Bill Gates, and Anand Giridharadas.

 The case is based on the claim that Twitter, because of its central role in Canadian democratic discourse, is legally prohibited from restricting political and social speech that causes no harm – such as The New Corporation post – in the same way that governments are.

Facts & Filings

Key Facts

  • During promotion for The New Corporation, which is a sequel to the multi-award-winning The Corporation, the top performing documentary in Canadian history, Twitter declined to allow posts of the trailer for the film to be promoted as ads.
  • No satisfactory explanation for the rejection was ever provided – Twitter simply claimed the posts were “political,” “inappropriate,” and “sensitive,” and thereby offended its policies.
  • The rejection negatively impacted the visibility of the film and its launch, and also had tangible negative effects on the film’s performance and brand recognition
  • Decisions about Canadian-running content were made out of California, calling into question Canadian content sovereignty.
  • The case is fundamentally different from Donald Trump’s case against Twitter – Canadian free speech law, unlike its US counterpart, and more like that in most other countries, accommodates free speech claims against non-government actors like Twitter, and does not protect incendiary, hateful, discriminatory and other types of harmful speech.

The Plaintiffs & Legal Team

The Legal Team

Leading the legal arguments are Sujit Choudhry and Joel Bakan, two Harvard-trained constitutional lawyers, both former Rhodes Scholars and law clerks to Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Joel Bakan

Joel Bakan is not only a constitutional lawyer, and an award-winning author and filmmaker. He is Co-Director of The New Corporation and author of the book. A Rhodes Scholar, he clerked for Chief Justice Brian Dickson of the Supreme Court of Canada. He is a professor of law at the University of British Columbia. 

“The film is about the urgent need for more robust democracy and greater democratic control of corporations – including big tech. If Twitter doesn’t want people to know about this film, what will it censor next?” – Joel Bakan

Sujit Choudry
Sujit Choudhry

Sujit Choudhry practices constitutional law, in Canada and globally, at Choudhry.law. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada. For over 20 years, Choudhry has been an advisor to constitutional reform, democracy support and peace processes, including in Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Libya, Myanmar, Nepal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Yemen and Zimbabwe. He has lectured or spoken in three dozen countries.  For nearly two decades, he was a full-time constitutional law scholar at the University of Toronto, NYU, and UC Berkeley (where he served as Dean).

The Filmmakers

ABout THE NEW CORPORATION, THE CORPORATION AND GRANT STREET PRODUCTIONS

The New Corporation, based on a book by Joel Bakan (published by Penguin Random House), was produced by co-plaintiff Grant St Productions, and was released in Canadian theatres and online platforms in 2020 to rave reviews. The film has been screened at festivals globally and aired by  broadcasters. USA release will be forthcoming in late 2021.  Community screenings can be arranged here, and screeners are available for media. A sequel to The Corporation (2003) by Mark Achbar, Joel Bakan and Jennifer Abbott, which is to date the highest grossing documentary in Canadian history and has had over 4 million views on YouTube over the past year.

The Ad Agency

Grant Street Productions
Cool World Technologies INc.

Founded in 2019 by award-winning impact producer and entrepreneur CEO Kat Dodds, Cool.World is a SaaS marketing, streaming and distribution platform for the film and cultural industries. The company was hired to do marketing for The New Corporation, holds non-theatrical distribution rights, and is a co-plaintiff.

Press

  • In tHe News

PRESS RELEASE: Twitter Gone Rogue: Who governs content in Canada? Lawsuit from Joel Bakan and Sujit Choudhry argues Canadian democracy is under assault by big tech policies

  • July 19, 2021
  • Cision Canada

The New Corporation filmmaker Joel Bakan and marketer Kat Dodds file charter challenge against Twitter censorship

  • July 19, 2021
  • The Georgia Straight

‘The New Corporation’ Producers Sue Twitter Over Political Ad Policy

  • July 19, 2021
  • Hollywood Reporter

Twitter, Canadian government sued by ‘The New Corporation’ producers over ad policy.

  • July 19, 2021
  • The Logic
  • July 19, 2021
  • The Globe and Mail

Canadian filmmakers file charter challenge against Twitter censorship

  • July 19, 2021
  • NOW Magazine

TELEFILM CANADA and the ROGERS GROUP OF FUNDS through the theatrical documentary program present
In association with CRAVE, a division of Bell Media
a GRANT STREET PRODUCTION IN ASSOCIATION WITH SCREEN SIREN PICTURES
A FILM BY JENNIFER ABBOTT AND JOEL BAKAN "THE NEW CORPORATION: THE UNFORTUNATELY NECESSARY SEQUEL"
ORIGINAL MUSIC COMPOSED BY MATT ROBERTSON SOUND DESIGN VELCROW RIPPER EDITOR PETER ROECK DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY IAN KERR, CSC
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER JOEL BAKAN PRODUCED BY BETSY CARSON AND TRISH DOLMAN NARRATED BY CHARLES OFFICER
WRITTEN BY JOEL BAKAN BASED UPON HIS BOOK "THE NEW CORPORATION: HOW 'GOOD' CORPORATIONS ARE BAD FOR DEMOCRACY"
Directed by JOEL BAKAN and JENNIFER ABBOTT

Produced with the participation of Ken and Reva Davidson

Visit the original film site