World Intellectual Property Day

Today is World Intellectual Property Day which means that rather than focusing on creativity or on policies that meet the needs of creators and users, we get a private function for MPs and Senators on Parliament Hill sponsored by Senator Joseph Day, where the RCMP will display counterfeit batteries and unsafe extension cords as part of the continuing attempt to conflate health and safety counterfeit concerns with copyright.  It means we get an op-ed from the U.S. Consul General in Toronto claiming that failure to ratify international treaties (ie. the WIPO Internet treaties) costs jobs and can compromise safety.  And it means we get a major press release from CRIA touting declines in physical CD sales (digital sales were not available) with claims that counterfeiting and P2P are the major reasons behind the declines. 

Needless to say, there is:

  • no mention of the tens of millions of dollars collected through the private copying levy that arguably covers those P2P downloads
  • no mention of the most recent Canadian Heritage Music Industry Profile which focused on the growth of sales of Canadian artists since 2001
  • no mention of the Canadian Heritage sponsored study that distinguishes between the health of the music industry and CD sales while placing much of the blame on the industry itself
  • no mention that Canadian digital music sales growth was double the rate in the U.S. last year
  • no mention that Canada has more online music stores than the U.S. when measured on a per capita basis
  • no mention that the CRIA member strategy of relying on DRM is being quickly abandoned
  • no mention of the changes at the retail level that even the Wall Street Journal points to as a critical reason for sales declines.

That is because World Intellectual Property Day has become little more than a lobbyist day with creators, users, and the facts once again getting lost in the process.

Update: A further point that came to mind while discussing the CRIA release with a reporter – it is worth asking whether the new CRIA data is somewhat skewed by the departure of the six major indie labels last April.  Those labels have enjoyed significant commercial success and one wonders whether comparing 2006 first quarter data (which included the indies) and 2007 first quarter data (which does not) has contributed to the year-over-year decline.

Update II: Coverage of the CRIA release from CTV and the Globe's Jack Kapica


  1. Hi,
    Your article in BBC was very interesting, Thank you 🙂

  2. What do you expect from the jackals at CRIA? I mean, seriously, they’re so far out of touch with reality that I almost expect Graham Henderson to be making visits to Earth from whatever planet he’s from just to drop off another of these pooplets, er, I mean press releases.

  3. the HendersonYadaYada
    Most amazing that Graham\’s bosses continue to put up with all this B-S. Notice another new PR guy for info contact. Let\’s see, is he the 4th or 6th in recent couple of years? Perhaps the CRIA labels one day might wake up and smell the coffee, i.e. when your spin doctors routinely get spun out by the rhetoric schloccka, maybe it\’s time to build a better mousetrap?

  4. David Canton says:

    Its frustrating to see this, especially when the Director General of Wipo’s message for World IP Day says “Our theme this year is encouraging creativity. … Encouraging creativity – rewarding the creative, innovative talents on which our world and our future are built – these are the ends which intellectual property serves.”

    [ link ]

  5. CRIA on falling CD sales
    Off topic regarding “Dropping CD Sales” article that quotes you and your site.

    One of the things that CRIA, the RIAA, and all the other cronies seem to forget is:

    A percentage of their falling sales are caused by people like me who specifically search for non-CRIA-sourced entertainment. I do this because of their terrible track record when it comes to understanding their customers. They deserve to lose sales, and I am doing everything I can manage to ensure they do.

    I need not get into the specifics of the track record, as I’m sure you’re very familiar with their voluminous sins. I’m sure I’d hit a character limit if I tried to reproduce them here.

  6. World Intellectual Property Day huh. What’s next, Halliburton Day?

    The next madman who wants to takeover the world should forget about Poland. Get some lobbyists and start a record company instead.

  7. Indipendent Music
    I run a radio show and one thing I specifically do is play as much non-RIAA (same as CRIA at this point) music as I can. I do this deliberately for a number of reasons – one of the bigger reasons is my protest against RIAA’s ideology.

    I also go as far as playing unsigned artists a portion of the time because they don’t get enough attention on FM radio anyway. Since I’m a big fan of Creative Commons, most of the musicfrom unsigned sources are part of the Creative Commons movement.

    Not only is the music from RIAA getting worse, but the non-RIAA music is getting better. I’m personally doing everything I can to syphon music fans from the RIAA fanbase to non-RIAA music and prove why non-RIAA music is better anyway.

    Been fed up with RIAA for years.

  8. They made their bed…
    Thank you! Thank you for calling them on their crap. I’m so tired of hearing out of touch artists and music industry professionals complaining about this for years on end because they missed the boat 10 years ago. I worked in the music industry in the 90’s and found the growing use of the internet, realaudio and mp3 exciting! The possibilities! Artists could create their own online representation which they would have full control over! They could get exposure and interest in their music by sharing song samples. They could sell tshirts, cd’s, etc by mail order via the net. The possibilities for record companies were pretty obvious and exciting too. Instead of seeing possibility the industry panicked. They could have created on-line record stores to sell the music of their artists and saved money on distribution costs. Instead of artists having to come up with a full album of music they could record a song a month or 6 songs every 6 months or only when they had a really great song worth recording! Less pressure, better music, fans don’t have to buy an entire alblum just to get one or two songs they like. The record companies could have led in the creation of digital audio players. Expecting too much I guess. They had just squashed the very cool DAT (digital audio tape). Instead they just complained and fought it until people had to take things into their own hands and create websites like Napster. Now we are stuck with I-Tunes and limits to how many times a song can be copied! What!! Just not realistic when most people are using portable digital music players and new greater, bigger, better ones are coming out every few months. The music industry missed the boat and we’re paying for it the most. They are making MORE money. The bottom line is they are losing control and power and they don’t like it. I could go on and on about the evils of the major labels and unfair record deals and artists that walk right into the traps but I’ve ranted enough. Thanks again!

  9. The last RIAA/CRIA music product I bought was Favourite Worst Nightmare by The Arctic Monkeys. It a Domino release but licensed to Warner Bros. for North America. It was Domino’s decision to license to WB for marketing purposes and I’d have no real choice but to line WB coffers, unless maybe I ordered direct from Domino’s web site…

  10. Can't give it away says:

    The other thing they don’t mention is that the biggest reason for the decline both in Canada and the US is the terrible product that doesn’t appeal to the large majority of the population. To me it is clear that the reason for the decline is that the product is terrible and appeals to a very narrow consumer base. Most of the top 40 is dominated by rap music and new alternative rock that has limited to no appeal to the majority of (aging) consumers with disposable income to buy the product. The consumers that that type of music appeals to has probably already purchased an electronic version of the music for their portable device. Plus that demographic has limited disposable income to buy the music. Not to mention that most of the so-called “artists” now a days are nothing more one “hit” wonders so who is going to shell out $15 for a CD with one good song? Where are the artists that sold millions of CDs like in the 80’s and 90’s. When was the last time Madonna, Springsteen, Prince, etc etc sold millions of CDs? Now they are lucky to go platinum. That combined with CDs lasting longer and not needing to be replaced as often and it is no surprise to anyone except the RIAA and the CRIA that CD sales are dropping. But it’s easier to blame downloading and piracy so that they can get their levys added to blank CDs so they can still make money while putting out a poor product. Wake up RIAA/CRIA and politicians. More taxes is not the answer to declining CD sales. A better product is.

  11. Should expect BIGGER major sales drops!
    Honestly at our house we can NOT think of one absolutely blow you away music release in the last few years… When was the last time you went to a party or out to dinner and someone heard some music that was absolutely a “stop you in your tracks music selection?” and everyone said “Wow, I’ve simply GOT to go get that?” Most people you ask simply can’t answer this question.

    Ergo, the flow of innovation and breakthrough innovation at the major music labels has quite literally DRIED up. Their ONLY business plan is their litigious business, andit is a well-established primary enterprise that involves lobbying to regain world-domination of music, an impossible goal but one that all the lawyers at the helm know will at least pay THEM until there is no money left to pay them, i.e. after that last lawyer stands (and falls).

    It’s a classic story of tragedy for anyone studing business economics in either a macro or mico sense. An immense shame that now 8 years past Napster the ENTIRE landscape of mainstream entertainment companies remain so focused on what they perceive as a threat (instead of an opporunity) and on blaming and touting, so muchso about why they “can’t”… that they simply don’t even bother to place any evidence in the marketplace of music that even suggests that “can” any longer. It’s a tale of a change in orientation, a change in an entire industry’s purpose. As a result the (major’s) previous purpose, or mechanism, to get really good music out into the world no longer exisits.

    8 years or so ago the world entered a would-be “dark era” in the history of music and like the dark ages we still have good music being produced by very creative, independent, individuals. But there is simply a complete and utter dis-connect between their Art and any mechanism to get it into the mainstream. They have to do it their selves, or devise a NEW system. We are witnessing the emergence of a new system, new models, and a LOT of fantastic “economic creativity” as a result.

    As a result… a Q1 drop of 35% in sales? Really, should this percentage reported by the major labels be significantly larger? With NOT one “gotta have it” item of music out there, after such a LONG time… we should expect even bigger drops.

  12. The industry has to answer a few questions… Who copies music nad who buys it? When I was young, I copied music from FM radio the music vidĂ©os from TV. When I got a real job, I didn’t have time to waste copying, I started buying. I’m sure if the industry compared music targeted at younger audiences (who have little money) to music targeted at older people (who have a job, more money, and no time to waste copying), the industry would see a huge difference. But if they insist on targetting younger audiences, it’s their choice.

    Looking at the bigger picture, people use some fixed part of their income for entertainment. Hasn’t it occured to them, people may be using a bigger part of that amount on XBOX/PS3/WII, DVD, and HDTV these days?

  13. A Stallmanesque Troll says:

    no mention of reality at all
    Also there is:

    *no mention of the many artists whose work is made available via these new media who have no corporate affiliation or who encourage the use of new media.

    *no mention of the fact that the WIPO treaty would grant control over many generic terms, including potentially some like “” as “property”, by abusively extending trademark law.

    *no mention of the fact that P2P and other less-traceable channels of distribution serve political and social critics to distribute leaked documents or commentary that is chilled off the public web.

    *no mention of the argument that the phrase “intellectual property” is a misleading propaganda mirage invented to convince people that copyright, patent and trademark and various other fields of law are somehow all similar and protect similar public interests (which they do not) – see Richard Stallman or even the Wikipedia commentary on this.

    *no mention of abusive potential of civil and criminal laws to get identifying information of critics of repressive regimes or corrupt individuals or groups within democratices – adding a copyright notice would be all that is required to gain the right to track down and harass anyone who even quoted from secret documents.

    *no mention that the people who crack DRM schemes are of such greater technical skill than the losers who waste their careers inventing them, that nothing “the industry” has ever said about the “uncrackability” of these schemes has ever proven to be anything but a lie. In other words, 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0 and Blu-Ray is no better.

    *no mention that extraordinary economic opportunities await all those countries that ignore WIPO and instead create very robust regimes of legal protection for online political speech, online personal and business networking, and creative collaboration, so as to attract all the services into that country to host the whole world – India could try this for instance.

    *no mention that the ICANN regime and other centralized controls on the Internet have totally failed to assure quality, e.g. collapse of and similar messes, by failing to require robust failover facilities. And that DRM schemes also often fail for the same reasons – Microsoft “software” even deletes tracks for which it “can’t find” the licenses seemingly at random.

    *no mention that people in less consuming countries regularly have their creative or collective works stolen and “protected” in higher consuming countries that control the world’s legal system, and the rightful creators never receive any benefit from it, and are sometimes even harassed for continuing to use it or trade it to others for rightful gain.

    *no mention of the total failure of all legal regimes to impose themselves on the Internet if they do not become knit into its basic protocols and convince the users that these laws and rules are in their own best interests.

    *no mention of who’s paying these creeps doing the talking.

  14. A Stallmanesque Troll says:

    Creativity requires rewards, not an obli
    “Our theme this year is encouraging creativity. … Encouraging creativity – rewarding the creative, innovative talents on which our world and our future are built – these are the ends which intellectual property serves.”

    Here are ten real ways to do that:

    10. Abandon all DRM as a failure.

    9. Cease to use the bogus term “intellectual property” at all. Make narrower arguments for very specific measures to prevent very specific abuses no one supports, such as selling bad DVD copies for profit, pretending they are from the original DVD publisher.

    8. Follow the music industry’s lead as revealed at the Grammys: Create funds and educational and excellence programs for the young creators who haven’t got any money but require early training.

    7. Adopt rational, strict, UK-style limits on copyright laws rather than the endlessly extensible US limits. “Nineteen Eighty Four” can now be rewritten to suit the modern age, and that’s a good thing. Say so.

    6. Devote ALL the same money now being wasted on DRM, propaganda, lawyers and spin doctors to the direct support of serious efforts to create archives of the entire public domain. Gutenberg,, and especially those projects that document all species and languages on Earth. Make extremely clear that a rich public domain is the tap root of all creative privately owned work.

    5. Make it easy and legally advantageous to contribute to the artists who created the work, and let the artist (not their lawyer) add their personal appeal to give more to cover the many excellent and effective people who help them make their work possible. At least this will answer the question of how many users feel an ethical obligation to pay the artist.

    4. Include paid authors on services like and payperpost in any interventions on behalf of writers, even if they barely participate. This encourages the writers to think of themselves as creators and to identify with commercial creators. Intervene to improve the writers’ contracts on these services, as the Writers Guild of America already does for others.

    3. Invest in rapid expansion of paid user-generated-content to the countries where most genuine and abusive violations now occur, including China. Negotiate very attractive payment and freedom of speech terms with the government, and apply the strategy as above.

    2. As an incentive to governments of poor countries to comply, make very attractive offers to them to intervene to protect creators in their own country who are becoming known abroad, extending cultural exports and reducing the “cultural imperialism” of the USA.

    And as a big stick:

    1. The entertainment industry can get behind [ link ] and others who are pushing for higher and stricter standards to protect online journalists and anonymous sources they rely on, and some means to arbitrate conflicts of political speech versus other laws. By doing this, they can then argue very successfully that the actual creators of original works require similar arbitration facilities and legal support that forces those making derived works or distributing copies to somehow ensure the creators gain if those others gain.