Saturday, July 09, 2011

CRIA Renames and Rebrands Itself as MUSIC CANADA: What's in a Name?

The Canadian Recording Industry Association (“CRIA”) has renamed and rebranded itself MUSIC CANADA. According to CRIA’s President, Graham Henderson, in a Billboard article:
"CRIA has been very focussed on copyright reform for many years and we fully expect that our efforts will be rewarded with a modern copyright framework in Canada," Henderson told Billboard. "But our role is also evolving and it was felt that in order to best support our members as they rebuild the marketplace, we needed an invigorated brand and direction.”
CRIA now has a newly redesigned website called (with a dot-com and not dot-ca URL as Michael Geist was quick to tweet). The website is now very similar in key respects to that the RIAA, CRIA’s American counterpart. MUSIC CANADA says:
Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization that promotes the interests of its members as well as their partners, the artists.  Those members are:

EMI Music Canada
Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc.
Universal Music Canada Inc. 
Warner Music Canada Co.
These are, of course, the Canadian subsidiaries of the worlds’ four largest multinational record companies. Few would regard these companies as “Canadian”, other than in name and for certain legal purposes. Their ultimate ownership and control lie elsewhere. 

MUSIC CANADA also says that “In addition to the members listed above, we also provide certain membership benefits to some of Canada's leading independent record labels and distributors which include....” a dozen far less well known companies. Nettwerk, the currently most prominent Canadian indie, is notably not on the list. Also absent are other important and even legendary Canadian indies, such as Anthem, Aquarius, and True North.

Some readers may recall that, in 2006, CRIA had to be told, under protest, to notify its “B Class” members that it would not be representing their interests in a certain Copyright Board proceeding. As the Federal Court of Appeal succinctly wrote: 
Following CRIA’s decision that it would no longer represent certain of its members (“the B Class members”) before the Board in this proceeding, the Board ordered CRIA to send a notice to its members saying that it had been instructed by the Board to advise them that it would not be representing the B Class members in the proceeding before the Board and that this was CRIA’s decision, not the Board’s. CRIA challenges the validity of this order on three grounds...
Third, CRIA submits that if, contrary to its submission, the Board has the power to make the kind of order that it made in this case, it exercised its power unreasonably. We do not agree. It was, in our view, perfectly reasonable for the Board to seek to assure itself that the B Class members were made aware that CRIA had decided not to represent them and that their interests could therefore not be taken into consideration when the Board rendered its decision on the proposed tariff.
It is extremely rare for the Board to get involved in the internal affairs of collectives - but it did so in this case. CRIA unsuccessfully sought reconsideration of the Board’s order and then judicial review, i.e. “appeal” in the Federal Court of Appeal. However, the Court upheld the Board and forced CRIA to appropriately notify its indie “B Class” members. Here is a much more detailed background to this decision from my blog in 2006.

CRIA’s rebranding efforts are hardly new.  Last year, I noted that:
It’s kind of interesting, though hardly surprising, that the so-called “Balanced Copyright for Canada” coalition has finally admitted that “thelead funding source is the Canadian Recording Industry Association” (i.e. CRIA).  
A few years ago at the Fordham conference, a prominent international content industry lobbyist, in a funny Freudian slip, referred to CRIA as the “Canadian Recording Industry of America.”
I wonder if the so-called “Balanced Copyright for Canada” coalition will admit that it is, at the very least, ironic that its name is arguably confusingly similar to that of the Balanced Copyright Coalition (“BCC”) (which I started in 2007) which morphed into the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright (“BCBC”).
All in all, it will be interesting to see if CRIA’s new name, new website, and new dot-com domain name result in CRIA now being regarded as taking a greater interest in Canadian artists, Canadian labels, and Canadian public policy issues - particularly copyright law - from a significantly more Canadian perspective.

Other recent notable “rebranding” efforts in the collective and trade association world include:

The NRCC (Neighbouring Rights Collective of Canada) rebranding itself as “Re:Sound”. Interestingly, the colon punctuation mark in the name prevents it from being used “as is” in any URL or filename.

Then, of course, there’s CANCOPY, which became increasingly referred to as CAN’T COPY. Perhaps that was part of the reason why it changed its name to ACCESS COPYRIGHT, which some have possibly assumed to be an inspiration for the name for this blog.

What’s next?


PS - CMPDA is now MPAC. See here.


1 comment:

  1. What's next? Maybe 'Music Canada of America.'