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False Positives Adventures in Technology, SciFi and Culture from Toronto

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Canadian Musicians call for ANOTHER update on copyright law

Via CTV.ca . (I saw this on the Telly) Also here's the same news reported by the CBC and Canada.com

There were a few intersting quotes that stood out for me, 1)implying the the Canada Copyright was out of date and "third world";2) the industry is being destroyed.

Some of Canada's best-known musicians appeared on a different stage Wednesday -- Parliament Hill -- to band together and lobby politicians to toughen up Canada's outdated copyright laws.

The musicians say the industry has hit a low note because of Internet piracy and bootleg CDs. The musicians, who included Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy and rocker Tom Cochrane, say the Copyright Act, which was drafted in 1908, is ill-equipped to address the issues of the 21st century.

"We're basically like a Third World country right now, with our copyright law," said Cochrane.

Graham Henderson, who heads the Canadian Recording Industry Association, says the Act has massive loopholes. He says it's damaging the industry, the economy and the careers of artists.

"Downloading, file-swapping, peer-to-peer networks -- these are all euphemisms for piracy, pure and simple. It is devastating to the Canadian music industry.''

Henderson says the recording industry has seen music sales drop almost $500 million in just a few years. That's about a quarter of a million records a month.

The industry tracked illegal downloads of the Tragically Hip music for one month. They found 2.8 million attempts to download the music, compared with 1,000 legal purchases through the online music store Puretracks.

Cochrane says their fight is not about money; it's about what's right.

"I don't want the press to spin things like: 'Here's rich Jim Cuddy and rich Tom Cochrane coming along to make more money.'" Cochrane said. "We're here because it's a right, it is stealing."

Marianne Goodwin, a spokeswoman for Heritage Minister Liza Frulla, said the minister met early Wednesday with representatives of the musicians and discussed the issue.

Goodwin said her office is working on copyright reform as recommended by a joint report from the Heritage and Industry departments. The plan is to seek authority from cabinet this fall to begin drafting amendments.

But Prof. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law and a law professor at the University of Ottawa, disagrees with the musicians that there's a problem with music downloading.

He says millions of music lovers don't download and doubts online music swapping is putting much of a dent in the industry.

"File sharing is certainly here to stay and the lawsuits and attempts at new legislation are attempts to put the toothpaste back in the tube."

There is a discussion thread over on Digital Coypright Canada, from which I've gleamed a few interesting facts, here and here:

  • Althought the orginal Copyright act in Canada dates from 1908, it was it was updated as recently as the spring of 2004, and had made major changes made in 1997 because of recording industry lobbying (this is when downloading of music from P2P networks became legal in Canada, as well as creating a levy on blank media that goes to the industry).

  • It's claimed that music sales may have dropped by a third in a few years, but most of that drop was in 2001-2002, when sales of just about everything dropped dramatically.If we look at the most recent sales statistics, we see that Canadian CD sales have been increasing (by 2% in 2003-2004), not decreasing. Also various other reports on the impact of downloading have questioned the music industries claims

Maybe the real reason for all of this (via Canada.com): The artists, members of the Music in Canada Coalition, also noted that the three-year, $95-million Canada Music Fund expires this year. They called on Ottawa to provide long-term sustainable funding to the music industry.

But it's not about " rich Jim Cuddy and rich Tom Cochrane coming along to make more money."

Category:CopyRight

Update: from November 26 2004 "UK Music Industry Sees Record Sales" via SlashDot.org : "Despite the claims of gloom and doom from the BPI (the UK equivalent of the RIAA) the BBC is reporting that 'UK record companies are celebrating their best ever year for album sales, with a record 237 million sold in the 12 months to September...also said sales of single tracks were up thanks to the availability of legal download services.' It looks like music sales will continue to climb if the customers get something they like. The article also discusses adding music downloads to the charts."


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