Manitoba Music Industry Association Shuns CRIA Stance on Copyright

It may be history repeating itself. When CRIA pushed for Bill C-60, many Canadian labels who were, at the time, members of CRIA, broke away from the organization, saying that they were against suing music fans and against the blanket ban on circumvention. Recently, during the round table in Saskatchewan on the issue of copyright, the Manitoba Music Industry Association, distanced themselves from the stance of the CRIA in favour of the stance presented by the Canadian Music Creators Coalition.

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

It’s becoming one of the fastest ways to isolate oneself in the copyright debate. All you have to say is that you are for suing internet users, for a blanket ban on digital lock circumvention and for restricting fair dealings. While one may get a sympathetic ear or two, a vast majority of stakeholders will not share that viewpoint. In fact, there a few stakeholders looking at the US style copyright law and merely looking at fair use as a way of expanding fair dealings (fair use is actually broader than fair dealings currently).

Comments made by the Manitoba Music Industry Association drew particular interest at a recent Saskatchewan copyright round table. The comments are available in MP3 format and can be heard at around the 50 minute mark. While advocating alternative business models and obtaining new streams of revenue, the MMIA argues, “We find ourselves in the Manitoba music industry more aligned with some of the creators coalitions and independent music groups and less aligned with CRIA and the RIAA. Our members are generally speaking are not interested in anti-circumvention laws, they are not interested in suing fans. No one from our membership is going to go out and sue fans because they copied some of their music. What they are interested in is finding ways of monetizing the creative content.” (Hat tip Michael Geist for transcript excerpt)

This isn’t the first time entities in Canadian music have stepped away from the CRIA stance of anti-circumvention laws and suing music fans. In response to the lobbying power of the CRIA which pushed the government to have file-sharing lawsuits be brought into Canada (of which CRIA still suggests that they want to easily file lawsuits against alleged copyright infringers on their Free Music Myths page – 4th myth from the bottom, first paragraph) and to introduce anti-circumvention legislation, Canadian record labels and artists broke away from CRIA. Some of those that broke away formed the Canadian Music Creators Coalition which formed to defy the CRIA stance on file-sharing lawsuits and DRM in 2006. As a result, CRIA lost a vast majority of its credibility as it was since seen as little more than a foreign organization with the word “Canadian” in its name.

That was long before Jamie Thomas was fined $1.92 Million for sharing 24 songs and Joel Tenenbaums $675,000 fine for sharing 30 songs. If anything else, those fines, particularly the Thomas fine, has only served to horrify Canadians and cement the need to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial uses or to flat-out reject file-sharing lawsuits altogether.

Up to now, there’s a long-running theme of disallowing a blanket anti-circumvention legislation, being very cautious around file-sharing lawsuits, finding alternative streams of revenue and pushing for (at this point, it’s a cliche in the consultation) a balanced approach for copyright legislation. The push to tighten copyright laws has primarily come from organizations who are mostly influenced by foreign interests or are organizations that operate on behalf of foreign interests. The push against this viewpoint has come mainly from Canadians, Canadian businesses, Canadian content creators and organizations that are primarily Canadian. In terms of public opinion, the CRIA stance has further disintegrated in the copyright consultation.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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