CMCC views clash with CRIA views on Copyright

The CMCC (Canadian Music Creators Coalition) are making new waves with their recent comments about a record breaking year in digital sales in Canada.

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

The new argument says that because music sales have never been greater, there is no need to push for legislation that makes it easier for record companies to file lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers and make it illegal to bypass DRM (Digital Rights Management).

Matching a facelift to their own website, the CMCC issued a press release that says, “According to Nielsen, Canadian sales of music downloads grew an eye-popping 120% in 2006, well ahead of the 80% growth in Europe and 65% growth in the United States. Overall music sales grew 10%.

Despite this growth, recent Canadian Press reports indicate that the major foreign music labels continue to pressure the federal government to move forward with radical changes to Canada’s Copyright Act.

Major label representatives have consistently said that the only way the industry can survive is by making it easier to sue music downloaders and by providing legal protection to so-called “digital locks.” The member artists of the CMCC — the very artists copyright laws are designed to protect — aren’t convinced.”

The new movement comes a little less than a week after an Access to Information Act request from Michael Geist revealed that CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association), one of the major proponents to anti-circumvention and restricting copyright laws in Canada, was found to have private meetings with the minister of Heritage on a monthly basis – a recent one to discredit the start-up of the CMCC.

The press release continues: “The CMCC sees the 2006 sales numbers – and the continuing success of the private copying scheme – as a sign that there’s no need to change Canada’s copyright laws to enable record companies to sue our fans,” explained Barenaked Ladies front man and CMCC co-founder Steven Page. “Our music download market is growing faster than those in the US and Europe. To us, that seems like evidence that the Canadian government should focus on empowering Canadian musicians and protecting Canadian consumers from potentially harmful technology.”

“The industry seems to say that if you don’t support suing downloader’s you support giving music away for free,” Page continued. “That’s simply not true. In fact, there are numerous third-way alternatives out there. Changes to Canada’s copyright laws should reflect where our music business is going rather than looking back to where it has come from. Propping up old business models that favour multinational record companies’ interests ahead of those of Canadian artists just doesn’t make sense.”

While both sides of the copyright debate have been pushing opposing views for months, rumours circulated (originating from a Canadian Press story) back in mid-January that the Copyright reform bill was imminent. Unfortunately for some, the rumours turned out to be false, but it didn’t stop the publication of a controversial Globe and Mail article which had many users leaving comments citing that it was nothing more then a PR move by multinational companies.

With either side continually butting heads, another report on ‘The Hill Times’ suggests that it’s the controversies and the polarised sides delaying the copyright reform bill. It also suggests that the ministers are considering a “Fair Use” provision – the same kind of “Fair Use” seen in the United States.

The move comes when, for the second time, political attack ads raised copyright questions. Some say it’s legal to use short movie clips because it’s a form of criticism which is mentioned in the fair dealings provision already in place in Canada. Those opposed say that the political party did not obtain permission from the broadcasters; therefore, it’s copyright infringement. It is because of such questions being raised that some are becoming hopeful that Fair Use might be brought into Canada.

Unfortunately, the rumours, as shown in the Hill Times article, suggest that the bill will not come until after the spring budget bill. It’s that bill that some speculate could easily topple the government and, once again, put the country into another election. If that happens, the copyright reform bill would also, like Bill C-60, die on the order paper. The difference is that the Canadian public won’t get a chance to see what the new reform bill will look like.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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