Graham Henderson, the head of the Music Canada (formerly the Canadian Recording Industry Association) wrote a blog post late last year lamenting musicians’ earnings, a situation he blames on the Internet allowing a few to “amass staggering, unprecedented wealth” while musicians toil for tiny incomes. Leaving aside the facts that the Canadian music industry experienced increased digital sales last year (while sales declined in the U.S.) and that the Ontario government is handing out tens of millions of tax dollars to the industry, Henderson now says the government needs to step in and regulate the Internet. According to Music Canada, government support must be complimented by:
judicious and reasonable regulation of the internet. The actions taken by courts in other jurisdictions have very reasonably required ISPs to block websites that are almost entirely dedicated to the theft of intellectual property.
In fact, Internet regulation and blocking websites are not the only music industry target. Last week, Music Canada appeared before the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, where it cited Google as a problem:
the federal government has done a lot to help us in our battle against illegal sources, but they could certainly do more. One of the biggest problems we have is that consumers cannot find legal services on Google. Type in: “Carly Rae Jepsen”; pick your song; press â€œsearch.â€ You would have to look to page 7 of the results to find iTunes. Before you get there, you have six and a half pages littered with illegal sites which are constantly being taken down and constantly being put back. With government support, maybe we can urge intermediaries to actually do something to help consumers find legitimate sources, because I think they’d like to.
I tried replicating Henderson’s claims regarding Google and arrived at much different results. Searching for Carly Rae Jepsen and the song Call Me Maybe, the very first result was a music video posted by Jepsen’s label which receives royalties and has a link to the iTunes version for purchase. Other top results include Jepsen’s own website (with links to iTunes sales of her songs) and licensed streaming versions of the song, which all appear before “infringing sites.”
With digital sales on the rise in Canada and copyright reform now complete, regulating the Internet, blocking websites, and manipulating search results is the last thing government’s should be mandating. Yet it seems that is precisely what the music industry once again has on its mind.