The IFPI, the global RIAA, this week released its annual Recording Industry in Numbers report that tracks global record sales. In its release, it chose to target two countries – Canada and Spain – for declining sales and linked those declines to copyright law. As it no doubt intended, the IFPI release succeeded in generating media coverage, including two Globe and Mail stories (here and here) that dutifully reported that Canada was perceived a piracy haven and was being criticized (again) by the global recording industry.
Yet it doesn't take much digging to see that the IFPI targeted the wrong country. Canadian sales declined by 7.4 percent last year. That is obviously bad news for the industry, but it is almost identical to the global average of 7.2 percent. In other words, far from a piracy outlier, Canada was actually consistent with declines around the world. Moreover, while the IFPI chose to target Canada, the reality is the declines were far bigger in the United States (10.7 percent) and Japan (10.8 percent) yet neither country is described as a piracy haven. The IFPI data also shows that Canada was ahead of the curve on digital music sales growth. Canadian digital sales grew by 38 percent last year, while globally the number was 9.2 percent (the U.S. grew at 8 percent, below the global average).
Of course, none of these data points helped advance the agenda of painting Canada as a piracy haven, so they are conveniently ignored. Look for more of the same later today when the U.S. government releases it annual Special 301 report and implausibly claims that Canada is one of the world's worst copyright outlaws.