Are CRIA and the MPA-Canada Now Opposed to Canadian Content Rules?

This week, the government was formally included in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations with the next formal round scheduled for New Zealand in early December. I’ve written extensively about the copyright implications of the TPP as leaked versions of the intellectual property chapter and demands from U.S. copyright lobby groups point to a significant re-write of Bill C-11. Areas targeted for reform in Canada include ISP liability, statutory damages, and extending the term of copyright.

An additional issue has begun to attract increasing attention as the same lobby groups seeking copyright reforms have also put dismantling Canadian content regulations on the table. The IIPA, the lead lobby group for the movie, music, and software industries, told the U.S. government:

IIPA strongly believes that the TPP market access chapters must be comprehensive in scope, strictly avoiding any sectoral carve outs that preclude the application of free trade disciplines. We note that several market access barriers cited by USTR in its 2012 National Trade Estimate report on Canada involve, for example, content quota requirements for television, radio, cable television, direct-to-home broadcast services, specialty television, and satellite radio services. It should be possible to address such barriers to trade in the TPP, and thus augment consumers’ access to diverse content, while promoting local cultural expressions.

Many concerned with Canadian culture have reacted with alarm as the U.S. government has focused on potential changes to television and radio content requirements, classification systems for movies, and online video.

The lobbying effort by the IIPA also raises the question of where the Canadian branches of those organizations stand since CRIA (or Music Canada) is closely aligned with the RIAA and the MPA-Canada solely represents the U.S. movie studios. CRIA has previously found itself on the opposite side of cultural groups on issues such as private copying and the merits of Bill C-11. With the parent associations now arguing for trade agreements that could target Canadian content requirements, do CRIA and MPA-Canada share the same views or are they now opposed to the policy position of the RIAA and MPAA? As David Farrell noted earlier this week, the issue has met with “stony silence from the music industry, musicians and other parties with vested interests in the topic.”


  1. I just cannot believe that organizations such as the CRIA or MPA-C would put the needs of corporate America ahead of Canadian creators … can you?

  2. Easily solved
    Just follow the money…and the amounts. Corruption is just a matter of time and how high the numbers get.

  3. mr. geist, perhaps you could do a piece on what canada actually stands to gain from being involved in the TPP. As a canadian I have no clue why we’re even participating in these talks, and everything I hear is another way canadians are being screwed over.

  4. Indeed
    Agree with last comment – what’s in it for us? Or is this just a scheme of our Dictator Elect – Stephen Harper

  5. Nothing in it for 99.99% of Canadians. All the ‘free’ trade deals are designed to increase the profits of multinationals. Local culture and local food are all to be merged into the lowest global commodity price. It’s all very sad and I feel powerless.

  6. Copyright Term Extension
    How come we hear nothing in the mainstream press about the copyright term extension of yet another two full decades?

    From the rightsholders’ point of view this is of course obvious: there is no intellectual property tax, so having “catalogs” on the shelf for 20 years, 50 years, 70 years or 200 years all costs the same: nothing. Zero cost and unlimited upward potential, who wouldn’t invest in that?

    In the mean time it will take another 20 years for the first vinyl recordings to become available for everyone to freely share and enjoy, and to adapt and “make your own” and freely share that, if you so desire. You will also have to delete 20 years’ worth of e-books from your readers… and wait 20 years to get them back. Project Gutenberg Canada will lose many man-years of work.

    Am I the only one that thinks we shouldn’t just hand our culturale heritage back into Corporate Ownership?

    Don’t forget that CETA is trying the same thing (nothing changes for the Europeans, they already have life + 70(!) years).

  7. Well,
    Since pretty much all of the Canadian content producers pulled out of CRIA, they now have no voice within that group to push for the CRIA to push for Can-Con.

    I do, however, find it rich that the IIPA is pushing for the removal of CanCon, since they have effectively managed to make it very difficult for a non-US artist, especially one that is not represented by an IIPA member company, to get airplay in the US.

    Richard, Seb, there is some information out there on the TPP. Just be careful to get the information from many different sources. A number of the sources present the information with a slant based on their political views (for instance, focusing on a single issue that they agree or disagree with), which to me does us a dis-service since it makes it much more difficult for us to form our own views. In the same way that I tend to look at a number of different media outlets for information, to get a better picture of what is happening I find it useful to blend a picture; the outlets tend to print information that they want the population to know, glossing over what they don’t consider important or won’t sell papers or doesn’t fit with their narrative. This occurs across the political spectrum.

  8. “Since pretty much all of the Canadian content producers pulled out of CRIA, they now have no voice within that group to push for the CRIA to push for Can-Con.” -Anon-k

    I thought the reason they pulled out was they had no voice

  9. Dwight Williams says:

    The Real Can-Content Creators
    Also that they felt they were being used as window-dressing by the American megacorporations involved. Thus, they reorganized into their own lobby group independent of the US lobby group.

  10. Sure Crockett….
    …. we lefties have been saying that for years 😉

  11. @db, Dwight Williams
    I am not disputing what you said, however as non-members they have no standing within the CRIA, unlike what they had before. If they were still members of the CRIA, then at least they would have the right to demand to be heard; if the CRIA leadership refused to hear their own members then that is a different problem.

    Picture it this way. Would the NDP allow a member of the CPC a voice at a party policy convention? Would they even let them in the door? What would happen if they refused to allow a member in good standing of their own party to make their opinions heard at the convention?

    Therefore, since the CRIA does not represent CanCon producers, why the devil would we expect it to push for CanCon rules? Frankly, I’d be far more surprised if they did push for those rules.

  12. monster beats pro says:
  13. Lets be clear…
    The article is written as if the TPP was the most dangerous thing ever invented and that America is out to destroy Canada. Lets not exaggerate the issues at hand, as it does us a disservice to actual discussion. The TPP would “criminalize and fine online actions” but only when those actions violate the law. To take issue with that is like saying “police will arrest you and throw you in jail!” when in reality, the back story there is that the police perform those actions to protect the community at large. If you want Canadian artists and culture to succeed, just as American want American artists and culture to succeed, copyright and anti-piracy laws are your best bet. Moreover, America and Canada have always had common interests and have a long standing partnership. To suggest that this is an American take over is ludicrous. In every trade negotiations, there are stronger stances, partners or issues at play; certainly this instance is no different. However, I sincerely doubt that US corporations hope to damage Canadian culture. Many Canadian artists are beloved in America and are large players in our “hollywood” scene: Ryan Reynolds, Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, Rachel McAdams, Avril Levigne just to name a few. Let’s not skew this issue as America pushing its own agenda. This is an effort on behalf of many nations hoping to establish larger, more efficient and safer trade regulations. It’s important not to lose sight of that.

  14. Byron Miller says:

    Canada bowing down to USA lobby pressure
    This all sounds to me like the Big Boys in the USA are attempting to strong arm and take control of Canada’s copyright laws and then reach across the border with the USA laws to police our internet activity and charge us. If Canada/government/Harper does not stand against this the Canada/USA border might as well be taken down and just make Canada another US state. The USA has bullied its way for so many years they feel entitled now to just move in and take over wherever it pleases. It seems to be a One Way street for the USA. If it comes down to the USA copyright laws been enforced in Canada and the USA policing my internet, I will just disconnect my Internet service and go back to reading more books and listening to the radio. I don’t want the USA breathing down my neck every time I log on to the Internet and have them spying into my computer to see if I have accidentally downloaded anything they can take me to court for or fine me. Our own Canadian government is selling us out to the USA and giving them power over Canadian citizens.

  15. Bruce the Moose says:

    Consider the shoe on the other foot
    Remember the mandated forced removal of the ‘The Nashville Network’ from Canadian cable systems by the CRTC in the early 90’s? The Yanks were very upset.

    What would happen if the USA decided to stop playing Canadian artists on US radio and American internet stations? What if USA record companies decided to not distribute, promote and sell Canadian music in the States?
    What if Viacom and HBO and CBS, ABC, Disney etc decided to stop licensing American productions to Canadian cable/ satellite companies?

    We all know what the result would be. No more Biebers, Twains, Rush, Jepsons making it big in the States.
    Also, the “walled garden” model of CanCon in place today would crumble like a deck of cards.

    Canadians would cancel their cable tv services enmasse and seek an alternative means of getting the Amercan content they crave. Either through gray/black market means, or yet worse for you guys, the Americans can set up a new distribution system to allow Canadians to LEGALLY pay and subscribe to their content by paying them directly, rather than through Bell or Rogers.

    You guys should stop being so smug. If the Canadian CRTC can and always has controlled American content coming north to Canada, what makes all of you think the Americans can’t and won’t do the same by restricting and controlling the amount of CanCon going South?

  16. @Friday
    While I’m sure “snub Canada” isn’t the wording they use in their internal documents, there’s two problems with your arguments:

    1) “only when those actions violate the law.” Absolutely correct. Trouble is, they don’t tell us specifically what “those actions” are. For example, is quoting half a sentence from your post considered “copyright infringement?” Under fair use, no. But there’s much talk about whether anything remotely close to fair use will exist in TPP. And without fair use, then yes that one line would be technically copyright infringement. You could potentially have myself, this website and probably even Michael Geist himself thrown off the internet, potentially fined, and potentially jailed. Just for one quotation. Will it be that bad? Maybe. Will it be enforced? Possibly. At the end of the day the problem is -we just don’t know-.

    2) “However, I sincerely doubt that US corporations hope to damage Canadian culture.” No. They seek to increase their profits — at the cost of -ALL- cultures if need be. The US will be just as bound by this as Canada if it all goes through. The two differences being that the US already has most of these copyright measures in place and that the US has first class status in negotiations (and generally the power and arrogance to force whatever they want on other nations through these agreements — their only real stopping point is when the other nations threaten to pull out entirely.) But even in the US, this will cause some serious headaches, especially if fair use is not included or is severely hamstrung in comparison to current US standards, as sounds likely. Remember this isn’t even the US government making this deal — its purely a deal between trade groups and corporate lobbyists. The US government is (or at least was.. haven’t heard in a while) fighting just to see the document the same as us Canadians are.