Two of Canada’s largest music copyright collectives warned the Bill C-32 committee against digital locks, arguing that it was unrealistic to think that the implementation of digital lock rules would increase music industry revenues. While there is much to take issue with in the CMRRA and SODRAC submission, the following is not among them:
Contrary to the government’s public statements, it is unrealistic to expect that the other measures contained in Bill C-32 as initiatives to implement the WIPO treaties would result in an increase in online music revenues for authors and publishers and musical works that will be sufficient to offset the revenue losses documented above. In fact, these measures would be unlikely to result in any substantial increase at all in legitimate online revenues for the music industry.
This can best be seen by comparing the growth in sales of legal digital downloads of music in Canada with the corresponding growth pattern in the United States, where the WIPO treaties were implemented in 1998. Apple’s iTunes Music Store launched in Canada in December 2004, 18 months later than in the U.S. Since then, the rate of growth of online sales in Canada has every year been much more rapid than in the United States. Nielsen SoundScan data show that, between 2005 and 2010 the sale of paid, legal downloads of individual songs or single tracks increased by 914% in Canada, compared to 232% in the U.S. Digital album sales increased 1207% in Canada, compared to 431% in the U.S.
As a result, CSI fundamentally disagrees with the suggestion that the “modernization” measures in Bill C-32 are in any way necessary in order to improve the fortunes of the music industry.
I have been making the case for many years that Canadian digital music sales have been growing faster than the U.S. It is good to see that leading Canadian copyright collectives are paying attention.