Thursday, June 25, 2015

Shameful Behaviour of Music Canada

Graham Henderson, President

Here’s Music Canada’s “campaign” pitch:
Send an email to the Chair of the Copyright Board of Canada re: Tariff 8
Send an email to newly-appointed Copyright Board chair Justice Robert A. Blair, urging him to facilitate the prosperity of Canadian cultural businesses rather than impede it by recognizing the value of the Canadian music industry for all Canadians.
To Justice Robert A. Blair, Chair of the Copyright Board of Canada

Here’s the text of the letter that Music Canada urges people to send to Justice Blair, with a convenient online “tool” to facilitate the transmission:

Dear Justice Robert A. Blair,

Congratulations on your recent appointment as the chair of the Copyright Board of Canada.  Under the previous leadership of the Copyright Board one year ago the Tariff 8 decision to provide creators with rates 90% lower than those they had negotiated commercially.

This decision discards years of agreements freely negotiated between digital music service providers and the music industry and sends a message to the world that it does not value music as a profession.  This is inconsistent with Canadian values. 

These rates were unprecedented globally – they are one of the world’s worst royalty rates for non-interactive and semi-interactive music streaming.
One year later Tariff 8 decision remains a serious setback for the music community in Canada, for artists and the music companies who invest in their careers.  This decision has created a regulatory precedent that ignores the reality of the marketplace and will continue to harm the business climate in this country and create a market uncertainty.

Today Canadian recorded music digital revenues and physical revenues combined only represent half of revenues fifteen years ago.  I urge you in your new position to make decisions that recognize the value of the Canadian music industry for all Canadians, and to create tariffs that pay creators fairly. Canadian creators should not be paid less than their contemporaries around the world.

As you begin your mandate please consider how the Copyright Board can facilitate the prosperity of Canadian cultural businesses rather than impede it. 

The Copyright Board is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal. Parties make their case. If they don’t like the result, they can seek judicial review.  It is NEVER acceptable to “lobby” such a tribunal in any way, and especially reprehensible to write lobbying letters to its Chair. This is an insult to the Board and its distinguished new Chair, Justice Robert A. Blair.

Music Canada, despite its mis-descriptive name, actually mainly represents the interests of the big three non-Canadian multinational record companies:
·         Universal Music Canada Inc.
·         Warner Music Canada Co.

Music Canada and those who oversee it should be completely ashamed. This campaign should, and no doubt will, backfire badly.

This may be a high point in hubris for Music Canada, following its windfall lobbying success for sound recording and performers' copyright term extension. But this is a low point in so-called “advocacy” in Canada.


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