Canadian Copyright Collective Calls It A Day After 15 Years Of Failing To Make Payments To Rights Holders

from the taking-down-the-industry-from-the-inside dept

Organizations fronting for rights holders repeatedly claim to have the best interests of those they represent at heart, but in reality, their efforts are largely self-serving. Lobbying, lawsuits and the pursuit of nominal fees through legislation is expensive work. The theory is that the monies collected by these efforts will make its way to rights holders, but as we've seen time and time again, the collected funds are either dumped back into the vicious circle of lawsuits/lobbying or disbursed to those running these agencies. Very rarely do creators see any sort of payment from these efforts, and the few that do are usually making healthy incomes already (the top 5%).

Michael Geist details the decade-plus of failure of one of these agencies. The Educational Rights Collective Canada (ERCC) was formed in 1988 1998 for the sole purpose of collecting royalties for the educational copying of broadcast programs for the classroom. Fifteen years down the road, it's asking the Copyright Board of Canada to put it out of its misery.

The ERCC, which includes the CBC as a founding member, asks the Copyright Board to effectively put an end to its tariff as it admits that it has never distributed any money to rights holders and is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.
Fifteen years of pushing for tariffs and not a single cent was passed on to the creators. During this same period, the ERCC managed to rack up nearly $1 million in debt. Its creditors are expecting to collect no more than 5% of the outstanding debt, most of which the ERCC amassed in its quest to institute copying tariffs. Canada's new copyright bill, C-11, greatly expands the royalty-free copying educational institutes can do, eliminating the ERCC's reason to exist.

The debt will now be absorbed by its creditors and the ERCC's clientele find themselves in the same financial position they were in 15 years ago. Rights holders should be taking a long, hard look at the institutions supposedly representing their interests. Many of these continue to throw good money after bad in hopes of extracting fees for nearly every use of copyrighted material. The purpose these organizations are supposed to serve -- divesting funds to rights holders -- seems to fall very low on the list of priorities.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    Crystal clear

    So let's just review copyright as it turns out today:

    1) Artists aren't paid based on their work or efforts, but labels are entitled to the money

    2) Every collection agency works to say that copyright can pay them, but the screw over the artists.

    3) The creativity in copyright comes in the licensing portion where the artist lose more money which the copyright holder gains.

    4) This is supposedly a better system over the last 40 years than reducing copyright terms to 0 minutes and having artists decide how to promote themselves based on new avenues of revenue and diverse platforms to express themselves.

    The only real theft going on is that of the copyright holder in exploiting the artist and stealing their innovative works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Jeff (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 8:30am

    Pedantic Math error

    1988 - 2013 is 25 years?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    When taking that said hard look at the thing they should put down the funny glasses though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 9:57am

    Getting the obvious question out of the way:

    15 years of collecting money, not a single cent handed over to the people they were supposedly collecting the money for, and they end up a million in debt...

    What exactly happened to all that money they were collecting?

    I can only think of two possibly explanations for something like that, either the group was seriously corrupt, shifting the collected funds to other people/groups(like say, themselves), or they were so incompetent that every single one of them would have failed the most basic economics class, and were such abysmal failures at handling money that they'd have been unsuitable to run a lemonade stand.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:01am

    Re: Getting the obvious question out of the way:

    The pirates snuck in and stole all the monies with their galleons and skallywags.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    justok (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:06am

    Re: Pedantic Math error

    Those missing years were lost to piracy

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Pedantic Math error

    That's what the press release would say. Those years were actually embezzled by the agency's agents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Baron von Robber, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:11am

    Hmm

    OOTB blather in 3....2....1....

    .....
    .....

    ?

    Where's OOTB?

    Ah a note from the RIAA/MPAA:
    "It is policy that paid shills for the RIAA/MPAA are given non-paid holiday days off. OOTB will return to his regulary scheduled nonsense next week. Enjoy a non-trolled week and a prosperous New Year."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Rattran (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:16am

    Re: Pedantic Math error

    It was founded in 1998, it's a simple typo. Which is much less fun than than idea of them losing almost a million dollars and 10 years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Re: Pedantic Math error

    Whoops. I have fixed the date.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 10:48am

    Re: Getting the obvious question out of the way:

    Or, they failed to sufficiently shake down the education institutions to cover their basic salaries. Most of all it seems like an independent organisation siezing an opportunity to make money off education institutions, but in no way gathering enough to pay for the enforcement.

    To me, it sounds more like the same problem as DRM: You use a large amount of resources to fight a problem with far too little positive impact to pay for itself (or, in some cases, even pay for the hit to reputation)!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Getting the obvious question out of the way:

    I think the correct answer to that is someone there should be criminally charged for something, they've got to have violated some laws on at least some of these things.

    -Criminally misrepresenting themselves (by failing to pay a single cent to the people they claimed to represent)

    -Extortion/theft of money that didn't belong to them in the first place. (How much money in royalties/settlements was paid to them that was intended to go to the authors of the actual content?)

    -Possibly part of their mismanagement that got them so badly in debt is that some of the money was being stolen/embezzled. (That deep in debt while failing to pay a single cent to the rights holders says their financial books need a close look at)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    LAB (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re: Pedantic Math error

    According to Statistics Canada data, there are approximately 15,500 schools in Canada:

    10,100 elementary
    3,400 secondary
    2,000& mixed elementary and secondary


    Enforcement would be no joke.
    Sounds like a lot of work to talk to that many institutions at least once a year (that is being very conservative). Without seeing the books, I don't know.

    1 million dollars over ten years = 100,000 dollars a year
    lets say a staff of 4 at an annual salary of 20,000= 80,000
    lets add rent, electricity, business expenses etc. That could easily eat 20 grand in a year.seems pretty easy to see how they could be 1 mil in debt...

    or

    they could be stealing all the money they collected for only nefarious and under handed reasons.........
    My bet would be a mixture of both.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:36am

    You can honestly say that this company grifted of the works of the copyright holders.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:40am

    Re: Getting the obvious question out of the way:

    According to them they never collected more than 10k per year from the tariffs, so the real question is--how in the hell did they keep getting loans without showing the ability to repay them?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Keroberos (profile), Dec 30th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Re:

    Not just from the copyright holders, since they claim they received less than 150k from the tariffs which is what should have been payed to the rights holders, but have 850k in debts which they accrued for doing absolutely nothing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 12:51pm

    yo

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Getting the obvious question out of the way:

    Re-read the story. Third sentence. "but as we've seen time and time again, the collected funds are either dumped back into the vicious circle of lawsuits/lobbying or disbursed to those running these agencies."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 1:49pm

    no one is in the least bit interested in getting any monies at all for the artists. all they are interested in is using the lack of obtaining monies as an excuse for trying to nail file sharers even more than they are normally. as stated, any monies that is collected goes in fess to the 'institution' concerned, so that yet another 'top exec' can get paid a $million+ per annum. the havoc that is wreaked is all but covered up, as is the total heartache of bankruptcy that these so called collection agencies enjoy throwing at ordinary people! i have not, as yet, heard of a single artist, label or studio being destroyed by file sharing, with many cases of the opposite being reported, particularly the increase in fan base of the lesser known artists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Pedantic Math error

    Your math is assuming that the didn't receive any money over that 10 year time. Since they were receiving the tariffs and I'm assuming some other licensing fees, there is a lot more money to account for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 5:00pm

    Copyright enforcement's best and brightest. Shock, horror.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 7:52pm

    Re: Re: Pedantic Math error

    I'm sure they will be back arguing that the "pirates" took the money (and by pirates we're talking about teachers and students here)...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2013 @ 11:19pm

    think of the children

    so a collection agency managed to pinch million+ out of the education system and then borrowed more money from the bank, million+. Caused extra burerocracy in the education system. They collect X dollars schools need to find Y dollars to gather and track those X dollars.

    So budget to teach children has X + Y dollars trimed off, now the collection agency goes belly up owing even more.

    white collar crime, no penalties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 2:30am

    Answer me this, copyright shitrolls.

    So what have consumers, getting products legally, been actually paying for?

    Why would I pay money to support the artist, only for the artist to not get the money, and when that happens, I get called a pirate because the artist isn't seeing a significant profit from the venture?

    Why would anyone pay for the privilege to be called a pirate?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    CN, Dec 31st, 2013 @ 4:14am

    Collection agency economics

    but as we've seen time and time again, the collected funds are either dumped back into the vicious circle of lawsuits/lobbying or disbursed to those running these agencies.

    Collection agency economics is sort of like having solar panels indoors, lit by lights shining on the panels. These lights get power from the panels.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Dec 31st, 2013 @ 6:24am

    Shell Game.

    Seems a lot like the shell companies set up in Hollywood to make movies look unprofitable. They collected a bunch of money, and it went somewhere. Now the cashflow is down so they're abandoning this shell rather than have to re-inject money to pay their debts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 8:05am

    A message to Vendors who sell to collection societies

    If you are a vendor that sells anything to a 'copyright collection society' or 'copyright collective' then read this.

    Either don't do business with them, or only do business on a cash basis.

    This one going bankrupt and sticking you with at least 95% of the bill should be a lesson.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 8:18am

    Again, the "everyday good of copyright" in action, my friends. OOTB is noticeably absent here. I was expecting howls of derision and cries of "Anomaly!"

    But then, there's not an everyday good of copyright, is there?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This