Copyright has not received much attention during the election campaign, but a recent survey by SOCAN raises questions about support for copyright term extension. The issue is particularly confusing in the case of the NDP, since it opposes the TPP (which would require term extension and keep works out of the public domain for decades) but it seems to be willing to entertain the prospect of copyright term extension. SOCAN asked whether the parties would be willing to extend the term of copyright to life of the author (or composer) plus 70 years. The NDP’s response:
The NDP welcomed the government changes in Budget 2015 to extend the term of copyright for performers. We understand there is now discrepancy between performers and songwriters. The NDP is committed to reviewing the Copyright Act in 2017 as the Act requires. We would look to make these key legislative changes in our first year of mandate. These are among the changes we would be looking into.
I’ve written extensively about why the term extension for sound recordings was bad policy driven by backroom lobbying. The NDP’s support for that element of the budget raises its own questions (the Liberals merely state that the extension enjoyed overall support from the industry).
But the NDP response suggesting a “discrepancy” between performers and songwriters misunderstands the term of copyright issue. The sound recording extension in the 2015 budget extended the term from 50 years to 70 years. The SOCAN request is to extend the term for songwriters and authors from life plus 50 years to life plus 70 years. In other words, the discrepancy is not what the NDP thinks it is. Songwriters already enjoy far longer terms of protection in most instances since they receive protection for their entire lives plus an additional 50 years. The NDP now says that it will look into further term extension changes and do so in the “first year of mandate”. Ironically, that lumps them together with the Conservatives, who will presumably do as well since the term extension is part of the TPP.