CRIA Breaks From Creator Groups and Indy Labels On iPod Levy

Today is music day at the Bill C-32 committee as there will be two panels focused on music copyright issues. The first panel is the Balanced Copyright For Canada panel, comprised of CRIA (which backs the site as part of its strategy to “radicalize and activate” its base through social media as Graham Henderson described it earlier this month) and four of the site’s board members. The second panel includes SOCAN, ADISQ, GMMQ, and the SAC.

The BCFC panel should raise some interesting questions about what CRIA says publicly at committee or does in the courts and what it says behind closed doors. I recently obtained a document under the Access to Information Act summarizing comments made by Henderson to Industry Canada officials in a September 2010 meeting, several months after Bill C-32 was introduced. The meeting was a Chamber of Commerce event, so CRIA did not report it in its lobbying disclosures. The summary includes two notable positions that seem to contradict public action or words and suggest a split between CRIA and other creator groups, including the Canadian Independent Music Association.

First, Henderson tells officials that Canada is a haven for pirate sites and that tough laws are needed to close them down. This is nothing new, yet these comments came months after dozens of record labels filed court documents asking the courts to close down isoHunt based on current Canadian copyright law. The documents include a statement of defence that argues that isoHunt is not operating lawfully in Canada and a statement of claim that seeks millions in damages and a shut down order.

Second, in discussing format shifting, Henderson is said to have noted “his disagreement with some creator groups who are advocating for an associated levy on digital media storage devices.” Not only does his opposition to the extension of the levy put him on the opposite side of many creator groups, it even places him on the opposite side of fellow witness Grant Dexter of Maple Music, who is the Chair of CIMA, which has argued for an extension of the levy.

The opposition to extending the levy also contradicts comments Henderson made before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage last April. When asked about CRIA’s apparent opposition to the levy, Henderson told Bloc MP Carole Lavallee:

We do support levies like this. We are also a member of the CPCC through our membership in the NRCC. It’s not just artists who benefit. It’s independent labels, major labels, songwriters. A lot of people benefit from the levy, so I don’t think there’s an issue about the existing levy. Do we have an issue with levies that are targeted and focused on private copies made from those legally acquired? No, we do not have a problem with that.

CRIA followed up with a public statement:

Canada’s record labels have no issue with such levies when they are applied uniquely to private copies of legally obtained music. However, we do not support levies that effectively launder illegally acquired music into a legal format, where artists and other rights holders are paid a pittance.

Note that the proposals put forward on the iPod levy do not focus on “laundering” music, but rather proposes compensation for format shifting. CRIA has publicly indicated support for such a levy in the past and now privately indicated its opposition to government officials. Which position will it take today?


  1. Levies
    Once you buy a CD, it’s yours. You can listen to it wherever and however you like. Putting an extra tax on music players to cover what should be LEGAL format shifting is a scumbag move. You encourage piracy this way. The customer is right here. The more you increase the costs and add locks and protections, the more piracy you’re going to get.
    Same thing with movies, the more advertisements and previews and warnings about how you’ll go to jail if you pirate the current movie (that you bought), the more you push people to piracy. Pirates offer a better product.

  2. Sometimes, simple solutions are appropriate …
    Copyright proponents will tell you when you buy a CD/DVD you are only buying a licence to use the media as it was delivered. This may or may not be the case, but the reality of the consumer’s opinion is that it’s not. There is no reason the content industry could not sell such products with open shift and backup provisions. They could even have the option to add a few cents to the up front cost that a levy would have provided and pass that along directly to the creator. At least in this manner the administration and distribution of funds is not in question. This of course would mean less income for the labels and more for the creators.

    The argument that Rob put forward is correct, overbearing marketing only drives away legitimate customers to less intrusive and unencumbered sources. Provide products and services the public is asking for and infringement will decrease.

  3. This is nonsense
    They want to be compensated for format shifting? Really? They’re really doing their best to turn me into a pirate, aren’t they? If I want to take my CDs and rip them so I can put the music on my iPod, I have no idea why they should be getting any extra compensation. I already paid them for the music, I bought it without signing any contract limiting the use of *my* disc.

  4. Concerned Mother says:

    I’m fearful they think of mothers as soft targets for persuasion, and I’m also terrified they’d pull my emotional strings with such propaganda “tools” as “childnet”, for a “safe” internet.

    As a mother I think the biggest danger on the internet are the recording associations and their ambulance chassing lawyers who’ve turned predatory and actively hunt my children as a seperate business model.

    I also don’t feel they should have a place in my children’s school, and deeply question the terrifying ethical dilemma it brings forth. I don’t trust them because they think these actions are OK.

    I also don’t feel they’re trustworthy because they have a need to moderate the arena, which is just more censorship, and these seem to be the laws they’re lobbying for in Canada, which questions our very freedom en mass and puts us all in danger.

    I feel if they were truly in the right they wouldn’t have to resort to such underhanded psyops and public brainwashing. But I’m just a silly mother, what do I know, but what they tell me. *teehee*

  5. Jack Robinson says:

    New Rome’s using Bill C-32 for the sinister pupose of Ballot Box Piracy
    Having actually just heard on my local London radio station a pre-election ‘Public Service’ ad sponsored by Our Ministry of Doublespeak exhorting Canadians to support Bill C-32, lest the Evil Libs allow Big Kahuna U.S. control over our cherished (?) Can Con airwaves… I’m not only appalled by our Cardiganed Caesar’s crass contempt for the electorate he hopes to hi-jack… But will likely be giving my legally purchased copy of ‘V for Vendetta’ a serious boo for drastically needed Guy Fawkes inspiration.

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