Post Tagged with: "music canada"

Ontario Music Fund Oversight Hits Sour Note: Gov Docs Discuss “Breach of Integrity”

Ontario Music Fund Oversight Hits Sour Note: Gov Docs Discuss “Breach of Integrity”

The Canadian music industry gathered in Calgary last weekend for the Juno Awards, the industry’s biggest awards gala that has grown into a week-long event. While the award show is the public face of the Junos, behind the scenes are years of negotiations with governments to provide millions in public funding.

With Ontario hosting the Junos twice in three years – Hamilton hosted in 2015 and Ottawa is slated to host in 2017 – the provincial Liberal government has committed to enormous taxpayer support. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports that according to internal documents recently obtained under the provincial access to information laws, that funding has sparked concerns within government departments due to the mushrooming budgets, inflated claims about the economic impact of the awards, and what officials have described as a “breach [of] the integrity of the objective grant assessment process.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the problems associated with the Ontario Music Fund (OMF), the provincial government’s flagship funding program for the music industry. The fund, which is administered by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), has doled out nearly $30 million in two years despite little public transparency on how the money has been spent and questionable claims about job creation.

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April 4, 2016 2 comments Columns
Harper Letter to Music Canada on Budget Day Confirms Copyright Extension the Product of Industry Lobbying

Harper Letter to Music Canada on Budget Day Confirms Copyright Extension the Product of Industry Lobbying

The government’s decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright observers by surprise, but not the music industry. I’ve posted earlier on their extensive lobbying efforts on the issue and how the extension will reduce competition, increase costs for consumers, and harm access to Canadian Heritage. The record of lobbyist meetings gives a hint of the reasons behind the extension, but a letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that I recently obtained suggests that it all it took was a letter from Music Canada President Graham Henderson to the Prime Minister.

The Harper letter was sent on April 21, 2015, the day the budget was tabled. It states:

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the copyright term for sound recordings. I have reviewed this material carefully, and share your view that the current term of copyright protection for sound recordings falls short of what is required to protect artists and ensure they are fairly compensated for their work.

Please know that, as announced today in Budget 2015, our Government will extend copyright protection for sound recordings from 50 to 70 years. The extension will be incorporated into the Budget Implementation Act, and will be in effect immediately upon passage of the legislation.

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May 15, 2015 21 comments News
Girl in Front of Beatles Mural by James Jardine (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/dbQUCt

Lobbying & Licensing: Behind the Recording Industry’s Campaign to Squeeze Out New Competitors

My recent posts on the government’s surprise budget announcement that it plans to extend the term of copyright protection for sound recordings generated considerable private feedback, with several industry sources suggesting that the change is not quite what it seems. In fact, despite painting the reform as an effort to protect the rights of artists, foreign record companies have been primarily concerned with eliminating new competitors who offer cheaper, legal public domain recordings of popular artists such as the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones.

From a consumer perspective, there is little doubt that the change will lead to higher prices for music. Multiple studies on copyright term extension for sound recordings have concluded that public domain recordings encourage competition between release companies and drive down the price for consumers. The songwriters are paid either way, but the consumers win with more choice and lower priced music.

My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that while some artists have lent support to the government’s proposed changes, the bigger story is what has been happening behind the scenes. As new public domain-based recordings began to appear at major Canadian retailers, foreign record labels adopted a two-pronged strategy: intense lobbying for legislative changes to lock down recordings for decades and blocking royalty payments to copyright owners to keep the new competitors out of the market.

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May 5, 2015 4 comments Columns
The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Visits the Canadian Film Centre by Canadian Film Centre (CC BY 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/oVePVb

The Power of Backroom Lobbying: How the Recording Industry Got Their Copyright Term Extension

The government’s unexpected budget decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings came as a surprise to most copyright watchers, but not the music industry lobby. Music Canada (formerly the Canadian Recording Industry Association) was ready within minutes with a press release, backgrounder, and quotes from musicians that were previously critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. How did the industry seemingly know this was coming?

The monthly lobbyist communications reports tell the story as beginning last fall, Music Canada registered lobbyist David Dyer met almost monthly with Patrick Rogers, the Director of Policy for Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover. The meetings began in November at roughly the same time as Universal Music began expressing concern about the Canadian distribution of public domain Beatles records. The lobbyist registry lists meetings on November 10, November 26, December 5, February 17, and March 18. In addition, there was a meeting with James Maunder, Chief of Staff to Industry Minister James Moore on November 28th, though it is clear that Canadian Heritage had the lead on the issue.

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April 28, 2015 32 comments News
amoeba records by Chris Frewin (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://flic.kr/p/5HrsCM

Competition Killer: Why the Copyright Term Extension For Sound Recordings Will Limit Consumer Choice and Increase Costs

As the negative coverage of the government’s surprise decision to extend the term of copyright for sound recordings and performances mounts (Billboard, National Post), it is worth remembering that it is Canadian consumers that will bear the costs with decreased choice and increased prices. I touch on this in my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version), but a more detailed discussion is warranted (see here, here, and here for previous posts on the proposed extension).

The question of competition and consumer costs was addressed in several leading European reports on intellectual property and term extension. The University of Cambridge’s Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law reviewed the economic evidence related to term extension for sound recordings, stating:

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April 27, 2015 10 comments Columns