The Copyright Board of Canada is currently conducting hearings on a proposed online music services tariff and I dropped by the hearings this morning to hear the conclusion of the questioning of CRIA Graham Henderson. Henderson, who was joined by Sony BMG counsel C.J. Prudham, had several noteworthy things to say about file sharing lawsuits, P2P usage in Canada, and the growth of online music sales. First, Henderson described the strategy of suing alleged file sharers as both a "pillar" and a "last resort." He stated that CRIA is holding off launching further lawsuits while the copyright reform process is active. He also acknowledged that the effectiveness of lawsuits as a deterrent was open to question, noting that there needed to be a large number of lawsuits to represent a credible threat. Moreover, those most likely to file share, the 15 – 24 age group, were also viewed as the biggest risk takers who might not in any event respond to the lawsuit threat.
Second, Henderson was asked about CRIA's persistent claim that the OECD has identified Canada as the largest per capita file sharing country. Following a series of questions, he acknowledged that the OECD data suggested that Canada and the U.S. had roughly the same number of file sharers on a per capita basis. He believed, however, that Canadian file sharers were much more active P2P users.
Third, and most incredibly, Henderson was asked about the growing success of the fee-based online music market and new data that shows continuing success of online sales. He responded by stating that he had not seen such data. The questioner was puzzled, noting Nielsen SoundScan has music download sales reports. The response from the President of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (who earlier this year told the Canadian Club that Canada is "out in the cold" in building digital markets)? He hasn't read the Nielsen reports.