Canadian Music Industry Confirms Once More That For Copyright Companies, Enough Is Never Enough

from the sounding-like-a-broken-record dept

One of the striking features of copyright is how over three centuries, it always seems to become longer, broader and stronger. Just as a matter of probabilities, you might expect copyright to become a little shorter once in a while, but strangely that doesn’t appear to happen. One consequence of the copyright ratchet is that the public is often cheated. Copyright is based on a bargain: that a time-limited, government-backed intellectual monopoly will be granted to creators in return for allowing the work to enter the public domain at the end of that limited period. Instead, what has happened repeatedly is that the copyright term has been extended before works enter the public domain, thus denying society its promised payback. If anything deserves to be called “copyright theft”, it is this.

The copyright ratchet is on display once more in a new op-ed Michael Geist has written for The Globe and Mail. He reports on some documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws, including a 30-page reform proposal from the Canadian Music Policy Coalition, an umbrella group representing 17 music associations. It’s a submission to the Canadian government regarding a copyright review that is currently underway in that country. According to Geist, the document calls for:

radical changes that would spark significant new consumer fees and Internet regulation. The plan features new levies on smartphones and tablets, Internet service provider tracking of subscribers and content blocking, longer copyright terms, and even the industry’s ability to cancel commercial agreements with Internet companies if the benefits from the deal become “disproportionate.”

You can read the full details of how the Canadian music industry wants to ratchet copyright up a notch or two in Geist’s post. With remarkable honesty, the report is entitled “Sounding Like a Broken Record”, and the familiar demands to make copyright longer, broader and stronger are indeed tiresomely repetitive and anachronistic. But what makes those one-sided proposals to demand more money from the public, while depriving them of basic rights like privacy and freedom of speech, even more outrageous is the fact that the Canadian music industry is thriving under the current legal framework:

The Canadian music market is growing much faster than the world average, with Canada jumping past Australia last year to become the sixth largest music market in the world. Music collective SOCAN, a coalition member, has seen Internet streaming revenues balloon from [Canadian] $3.4 million in 2013 to a record-setting $49.3 million in 2017.

Moreover, data confirms that music piracy has diminished dramatically in Canada. Music Canada reports that Canada is below global averages for “stream ripping”, the process of downloading streamed versions of songs from services such as YouTube. Last month Sandvine reported that file sharing technology BitTorrent is responsible for only 1.6 per cent of Canadian Internet traffic, down from as much as 15 per cent in 2014.

Since shrinking markets and increasing levels of unauthorized downloads are routinely used to justify a strengthening of copyright legislation, it seems only fair that the public should be allowed to argue that copyright law in Canada can be dialed back now that the reverse is taking place. But the music, film and publishing industries and their lobbyists would scream in horrified outrage if such a thing were even whispered. After all, everyone knows that when it comes to copyright, enough is never enough.

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Comments on “Canadian Music Industry Confirms Once More That For Copyright Companies, Enough Is Never Enough”

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Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Abolish Copyright

I’ve given up on trying to argue with abolitionists because of the abuse of their privilege by rightsholders. They’re too damn greedy and protectionist.

Which of their arguments has any merit? Genuine question.

Okay, let’s take a look:

It’s property – if that’s true it’s leasehold, not freehold since it’s supposed to sunset at some point.

Creators gotta live – if that’s true how come so many rightsholders aren’t actually creators?

Infringement is theft – if that’s true they wouldn’t still have the original, would they?

As a member of the public I’m appalled that they’re continually allowed to get away with outright lying. We need to push back and hard. If this comes up for legislation, let’s get on the phones and call our representatives. Pressure works.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Abolish Copyright

Creators gotta live – if that’s true how come so many rightsholders aren’t actually creators?

Also note the number of "rightsholders" that never benefit from those rights, don’t care or even know about them. When I email a friend, getting a copyright on that email is not an incentive. When people take photos of… well, everything (and all the time) these days… are they doing it to get copyright?

In other words, if copyright disappeared or were radically changed tomorrow (eg. requiring explicit paid registration, much shorter durations, forbidding DRM), what harm would we see? Would "regular" people even notice anything bad?

Kal Zekdor (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Abolish Copyright

There are a lot of problems with copyright as it is, but entertainment as a business would certainly not exist if it were to be abolished. Without copyright we’re thrown back to a patronage model, and while that can work ok for small projects without a lot of costs, crowd funding of larger projects has been a mixed bag. Like most people, I don’t want to speculate on whether or not a production can deliver what’s promised, I want to know what I’m getting what I paid for. That means shifting the uncertainties to speculative investors, who rightly demand payment for the risks they take.

There are undoubtedly a lot of problems in the entertainment industry, exploitative contracts, phony accounting, poor treatment of workers, rampant sexism, etc., but, fundamentally, entertainment as a business is here to stay, and entertainment as a business depends on copyright.

That said, if you haven’t turned a profit after 14 years, you’re not going to. There’s no need for copyright terms to be so long, the incentives work just fine with reasonable copyright terms.

(I’m not going to get into copyright as applied to software, here. That’s a whole other thing.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Abolish Copyright

entertainment as a business would certainly not exist if it were to be abolished.

That’s a ridiculous statement, contradicted by your next sentence. There are alternate models available. Yes, they’re a mixed bag. Still, crowdfunding projects have raised large amounts of money even with the small minority of people willing to take that risk.

To go back to the question of "what harm would we see", budgets might decrease, maybe making "big budget blockbuster" movies impossible. But television worked for years "without copyright"—technically they had it, but it was common to have no recording or wipe the recordings. That model is straightforward to apply to crowdfunding without much risk: "we’ll keep making new episodes until the time the show becomes unprofitable". If you walk around a comic con, you’ll see no shortage of people willing to pay.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Without copyright we're thrown back to a patronage model

A publisher decides what works to publish, demands the copyright, and pays royalties reluctantly.

A patron supports the creator to create new works, and does not demand the copyrights to be assigned to them. Also, patrons do not worry about who seen the works for free, or demand unique access to works because what they are supporting is the creation of new works.

Whether someone tries to go the publisher route, which is difficult because of publisher selectivity, or to go down the patronage route, they will likely have to produce several works before they earn any money. With the patronage model, self publishing works for free viewing starts the building of a fan base, and gains the feedback a creator needs to develop their art with no risk. Doing so when seeking to go down the publisher route risks alienating the early fan base when the latter works go behind a paywall on a different distribution channel.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Addendum

I forgot, but possibly the most important distinction between a publisher and a patron is that the publisher is looking to make a profit from the already created works of a creator, while a patron is simply supporting a creator in the creation of new works. The publisher looks for a profit from selling copies, the patron is not looking for a financial return.


why do i care aobut copyright

i wont live 80 years as is ….so it never benefits me a person in society so why bother abiding by it…


until its reasonable term rates this will only get worse and nothng you do will help…

the war on society continues

oh and lets have a good talk about the rapists and sickos that are not only in movie and film but tv

will trudeau govt enable rapists and sickos ….

tune in next week

That One Guy (profile) says:

'Millions? Only MOST of the control? Bah.'

As stories like this highlight maximalists seems to strongly believe that if they aren’t getting approximately all the money in existence(their product being the most valuable possible of course), and all of the control, then it will never be enough.

If they’re not getting all the money, then they might as well be getting none. If they don’t have complete control over the market, then they might as well have no stake in it at all. So obsessed with total control and all the profits anything less will never be enough, showing why ‘just a little more, just a few tweaks to the law to ‘protect creators’ more’ should always be refused, because it will never be enough.


more statistcs

google how many internet accounts canada has and you will see as they drop massively so does everything

so in a 1.7 trillion economy music streaming is 49 million
the cdr levy used ot get them 46 million ten years ago

are cdrs stillmade how much is that gettign themnow 0?

there has not been any music in last 15 years i’d even consider buying even if there was no piracy and i honestly cant remember last time i downloaded music ….its all just garbage….

the streaming is form old music when the rights were not 80 years and people actually had to get off there butts and make music for a living , now you just put out tons a trash and get whatever streams and radio pays you.

same for movies and tv ….garbage

seriously game a thrones is good is it?
its soft core porn with a bunch a bad writing….
walking dead….kill me already….

im finding myself going back to classics more and more cause the new shit is just that SHIT

David says:

Posthumous copyright extensions are fraud

The whole idea of copyright after creators’ deaths is that creators care more for what impact they have on the world’s gene pool than on the world’s meme pool. The copyright crime syndicates constantly get copyright prolonged posthumously, altering an already made deal with the creators and changing its conditions, purportedly for the benefit of creators’ heirs (never mind whether creators did care one whit about them).

That is fraud, bereaving the creators of their choice of impact on the world and breaking the deal they actually have made with the princes of the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

As piracy grows Techdirt opposes limiting thefts in any way.

**Here’s a HOOT for new readers: Techdirt / Masnick supposedly “support copyright”!!!** Yes, that used to be asserted here. In 8 years I never saw any evidence of it, let alone Masnick directly stating so, but the usual fanboys, who defend the site and seem to know every detail, would trot that.

But what you’ll see here every day here is just derision of any actual attempts to defend content that costs money, and to get some income from it.

In the US Constitution, a Right to EXCLUSIVE CONTROL is stated: Techdirt opposes that Right in every bit of practice, asserts that anyone can monetize content, it can be “shared” without limit on file hosts / torrent sites, and those who paid to make it can just wish up a “better business model” if want any income!

The actuality of Techirt is PRO-PIRATE, period.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Why do copyright fanatics care about media after they are dead?

If I live 5 years more to the age of 72 some copyrighted material will begin to enter public domain. Buddy Holly died when I was 5 so I would have to make it to 77 for him. Many of the artists I listened to as a teenager are still alive so the clock hasn’t even started on the life + 70 years. My son is 33 so it is likely even he won’t live to see a lot of them enter public domain. As insane as it is that only our grandchildren for many of us will be able to legally download a Beatles song they are pushing for life + 100 years. Why do they give a shit about copyright that mostly won’t expire until long after they are gone?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why do copyright fanatics care about media after they are dead?

Why do they give a shit about copyright that mostly won’t expire until long after they are gone?

Because the labels want old recordings to disappear, rather than enter the public domain to compete with new recordings. Just like Hollywood has allowed many old films to rot away in their vaults, so that they cannot enter the public domain.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why do copyright fanatics care about media after they are dead?

I’m not going to let old TV series & movies keep me from watching new ones. As far as music, I have a huge collection of 50’s, 60’s & 70’s music. From what little exposure I get to newer music since I retired I am unlikely to buy anything new. When I was still working, occasionally I would hear something on the radio I liked & buy the CD but that time is long over for me. No one is ever going to top the greats like Beatles or Fleetwood Mac for me anyway.

Anonymous Coward says:

“The more you tighten your grip, Governor Tarkin, the more systems will slip through your fingers.”

The general public already doesn’t respect copyright and tightening it up still more won’t make people respect it any more.

“If anything deserves to be called ‘copyright theft’, it is this.”

I’d say that’s a poor term. But if you accept that copyright is a contract for ideas and creative works being property. The basis of that contract is that the ideas actually belong to the society and culture to which they are born and the artist merely borrows them for a time. Then it stands to reason that “intellectual property theft” is the correct term and the perpetrators are actually the copyright holders by repeatedly refusing to release their borrowed ideas back to the public good, NOT the public for ignoring what amounts to a broken social contract.

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