CIPPIC Says CRIA Headed In Wrong Direction

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) was disappointment in the Canadian Recording Industry Association’s (CRIA) characterization of parts of two national polls it released today.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

David Fewer, Staff Counsel for CIPPIC stated “We welcome CRIA’s attempts to put estimates to file-sharing, but to draw conclusions about the impact of file-sharing on creativity, innovation and economic harm to major-label music companies without even mentioning Canada’s private copying regime just doesn’t tell the full story. Between 2000 and 2004, the music industry collected over $127 million dollars from levies designed to compensate the music industry for private copying of music by Canadians. The industry wants to have its cake and eat it too.” The CRIA claims that since 1999, it has suffered over half a billion dollars in lost sales. At least, that is according to the poll conducted by Pollara, a company that worked for the CRIA. They also claim that the activity is caused mostly by younger Canadians.

David continued, “CRIA’s own figures show that Canadians’ #1 source of music downloads is peer-to-peer. We should be talking about ways to make this technology work to the advantage of both Canadian artists and music fans. Instead, we see a continuation of the major labels’ strategy of vilifying young people and suing customers.”

According to the poll, Canadians between the age of 12 and 24 years constitute 78% of the downloaded music content despite the fact that they make up for a mere 21% of the Canadian population.

CIPPIC also questioned CRIA’s suggestion that downloading is responsible for recent declines in record sales. Mr. Fewer points out, “This has simply not been proven. There are many other likely reasons for revenue decline, including fewer albums released, increased competition from other forms of entertainment (i.e. DVDs), and general economic conditions. Indeed, recent studies show that file-sharing can actually lead to increased sales, as fans test tracks online before purchasing CDs. It is telling that CRIA did not release figures on this particular issue.”

According to the poll, Canadians between the ages of 18 to 29 years are much more willing then any other age groups to download software, cheat on exams and even shoplift according to a poll conducted by Environics. 27% of younger people, according to the survey, would consider cheating on a test as opposed to the 10% of the general population. 6% of younger Canadians said that they would leave a store without paying for an article of clothing compared to the 2% of the general population.

President of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) Graham Henderson who commissioned the polls said, “Not only does music file-swapping harm artists, but it also points to an erosion of respect for intellectual property that threatens Canada’s economy and values at the core of our society,” Graham Henderson added while referring to plagiarism in schools and Universities, “The ‘if it’s there, it’s free’ thinking extends far beyond entertainment products and software to ideas themselves.”

A 2005 survey of 600 UK music fans, reported in the Guardian Online, (July 27, 2005) found that those who illegally share tracks over the internet also spend four and a half times as much on digital music as those who do not. Recent research out of Japan by a Keio University Economics Professor concluded that “Winny”, the most popular P2P application in Japan, has had no effect on CD sales in Japan. In fact, the study found that P2P allows consumers to discover new music and so promotes music sales. For more on these studies, see CIPPIC’s FAQs on file-sharing, at the CIPPIC website.

Mr. Fewer is also troubled by CRIA’s unexamined claim that ever increasing intellectual property rights support Canadian competitiveness and innovation. “We encourage innovation by giving Canadians the opportunity to do build on existing knowledge, not by frustrating researchers and entrepreneurs with ever-tighter copyright laws. CRIA wants to eliminate essential user rights that enable research into digital security and software inter-operability. If Canadian policy makers are serious about seizing the Internet’s potential to secure future economic growth, we should focus on creating opportunities for Canadian artists and innovators, not choking them off.”

Meanwhile, the CRIA tabled a bill via the Liberal Party of canada known as Bill C-60 to tighten controls over copyright. Experts including, but not limited to people associated to CIPPIC criticizes the bill for failing to protect the public interest and that it’s primary goals is to protect special interest groups.

The University of Ottawa hosted a summit Thursday on Bill C-60, with representatives of both Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage, the two departments jointly responsible for the legislation.

Among the Pollara findings:

12 to 17 year olds are the most likely to strongly agree that “artists are too rich already so downloading won’t hurt them.”

37 per cent of respondents used a CD burner to record music within the last six months, up from 18 per cent in 2001.

The Environics findings suggest:

60 per cent of Canadians aged 18-29 are willing to download music from the Internet without paying for it, compared with 29 per cent of the general population.

half of young people believe it’s all right to illegally download music because others do it too.

Pollara’s findings are based on a national telephone survey of more than 1,200 Canadians aged 12 and over between June 24 and July 12.

The firm says the results are accurate to within plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 out of 20 times.

Environics polled just over 1,000 Canadians aged 18 or over by telephone, and another 1,043 Canadians online in May 2005.

It says the findings are accurate to within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 out of 20 times.

The CIPPIC shot back against the CRIA’s finding by drawing up their own annalysis of the report. The CIPPIC official website published on their official website:

“CRIA’s language is most telling:
– number of times “illegal” or “illegally” mentioned: 16
– number of times “private copying” or “levy” mentioned: 0″

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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