CRIA: ‘Canada = Deadwood’

After the CRIA’s study backfiring and the major fallout of the major Canadian labels leaving the CRIA on top of the formation of the CMCC which attempts to stop DRM and Canadian lawsuits, the CRIA recently decided to fight back in the media.

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

CRIA’s (Canadian Recording Industry Association) president Graham Henderson gave a speech which is available in the MP3 format as well as in an XML podcast feed (also available is a transcript of the speech in PDF format.)

In the speech, Graham Henderson first shows off PEW statistics which was followed up by the infamous Pollara study that was heavily criticized as well as debated between Michael Geist and Pollara.

Continuing in the speech, Graham Henderson argues that “Canad[ian citizens] operates in a moral vacuum.” and that Canada’s position on copyright is currently “just plain embarrassing.” He goes on to argue that “Canada… [fails] to set rules.”

During Henderson’s speech, he likened Canada to “Deadwood“, an HBO TV series. He argues that in the show, the town operates in anarchy and run by a bar tender and owner of a brothel. He made that a segue into Canada and internet culture. Graham said that it is “difficult to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys.” He then notes, “We remain mired in a state of creative anarchy when it comes to using the Internet.”

While it is obvious that the CMCC (Canadian Music Creators Coalition) has damaged the CRIA’s arguments when it comes to Copyright reform, he mentions a member of the CMCC ‘Stars’ while arguing how sales have severely suffered ‘for artists.’

While comparing Canada’s Internet culture to an anarchist society, he defends the WIPO treaties by stating, “WIPO is about choice.” Henderson says, “The digital Deadwood is about nothing remotely connected with choice.”

He then directs his argument over to the artist, Gwen Stephani and her track ‘Hollerback Girl.’ Many might remember the argument made two months ago in a news article that talks about the CRIA arguing how much file-sharing is hurting sales.

n goes on to argue the DMCA 2.0 was hailed by “tens of thousands of recording artists.” DMCA 2.0 was also largely and nearly unanimously rejected by Bloggers as well.

The speech continues with another reference from the Pollara study which claims that younger people won’t stop downloading until they are told to be stop. Graham Henderson asks, “But how do we ‘stop them’? I do not think [this] necessarily means [to sue them].” He then turns around and says, “Lawsuits may be necessary.”

A lot of criticisms towards the CRIA’s arguments have been gaining media attention. The most well known critics are Howard Knopf, Michael Geist, Russell McOrmond and CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic). Graham Henderson addresses the critics by arguing in favour of litigation stating, “mad scientists in their anti-copyright laboratories say [this will not work]” Henderson also comments, “…it is important for government to set the tone and send clear signals about what constitutes acceptable behaviour in a civil digital society.”

He made several comments on Canada on the international front, but a bulk of it was around the WIPO treaty. Graham brought his speech back to the WIPO treaty by claiming, “WIPO rules are by their nature measured and balanced – notwithstanding the nonsense emerging from the Deadwood saloons… Canadians will continue to steal other people’s property until we tell them it is wrong” On the other hand, a recent additional provision was touted as a “Podcast killing” provision. While Graham repeatedly stated that nobody is stopping content creators from giving away their content for free online, he never made mention of this.

Graham Henderson concluded his speech by asking, “Who do we want running this town anyway? The [bartender], or the guy with the badge?”

An article in The National Post commented on the events in general.

“Ever since downloading was popularized late last decade, record labels have been fighting it tooth-and-nail. Rather than adapting to the music distribution system of the future, the industry tried to shut it down, while continuing to sell CDs. By the time Apple finally took the initiative and dragged the labels into the 21st century with iTunes, fans had already figured out how to get their downloads elsewhere.”

While Apple did draw some attention ever since the announcement that they were keeping with the 99 cent structure, the DRM based business model in general is still criticized by Steven Page, member of the Barenaked Ladies and one of the leading voices of the CMCC (Canadian Music Creators Coalition). CMCC stated that “Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive”

Michael Geist commented, “Listening to the speech, you cannot help but be struck at the different visions of Canadian music. The CMCC, comprised of some of Canada’s best-known artists, looks at the Internet and the law today and sees opportunity and a thriving music scene. CRIA, on the other hand, looks at the Internet and the law today and sees deadwood.”

The question is brought up between the two sides of the debate; is Canada filled with brothel owners bent on anarchy and chaos who seek nothing more then ‘stealing other people’s property’? Or is the industry merely trying to act on behalf of stakeholders and just crying wolf whenever the climate for content changes?

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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