My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) examines the recent resignations
of six leading Canadian independent record labels from the Canadian Recording Industry Association as part of a larger trend of pressure on longstanding industry associations. In that regard, the column discusses the CCTA's decision to disband and the likely pressure within the Canadian Association of Broadcasters.
I argue that the common link behind these developments is the Internet and new technologies, which have complicated businesses in many arenas by rendering it virtually impossible to garner industry-wide consensus on policy matters. The upheaval will lead to the formation of three types of business advocacy groups in Canada.
The largest Canadian companies will "go it alone" employing independent lobby firms and adopting company-specific policy positions.
Foreign companies will form associations with little pretense of representing a Canadian perspective. This is typified by the Canadian Motion Pictures Distributors Association, which bills itself as the voice and advocate of the U.S. studios, and now CRIA, whose board of directors is comprised exclusively of its president and executives representing the four major foreign multi-national labels.
The third group will be made up of smaller Canadian companies that cannot afford expensive lobby campaigns. They will form issue-specific coalitions and rally around smaller associations such as the CCSA and the Canadian Independent Recording Industry Association (CIRPA). The danger, as always, is that the interests of this third group, which best represents small and medium sized Canadian businesses, will be lost amid the noise from industry giants and foreign-backed associations.