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Canadian Music Industry Seeks New Fees, Content Blocking, and Right to Renegotiate Deals Despite Generating Record Digital Revenues

The global music industry released its annual report this week with data that shows an industry successfully transitioning to digital services. The Canadian market is particularly strong as revenue growth far exceeds global averages. Despite the success, behind the scenes the industry is calling on the government to implement radical copyright reforms that include creating new levies to cover smartphones, requiring Internet providers to block services and report activity back to the industry, and even the power to require renegotiation of commercial deals it no longer thinks are fair.

The industry frequently complains about revenues, but the undeniable reality is that there is more money coming into the industry. The Globe and Mail notes:

Total Canadian recorded-music revenue grew even more last year, up 14.4 per cent to US$439-million – in large part thanks to 68.8-per-cent growth in subscription streaming revenue, totalling US$161-million.

While the IFPI, the global industry association, does not provide individual data for all markets, it is clear that Canadian services are growing faster than the U.S. and most world markets. The IFPI report says North America wide revenues grew 12.8 per cent with Canada at the high end of the market. Moreover, Canadian subscription streaming revenues are growing faster than the U.S. (the U.S. is up 59.6 per cent). In fact, the Canadian numbers also beat most European and Asian markets. These growth numbers are consistent with SOCAN’s record revenues, which confirms that creators are benefiting from marketplace developments.

The industry data leaves little doubt that Canada is a global success story in digital music sales. Yet despite the commercial success, it is trying to convince the government that copyright laws need to be overhauled with changes that would increase costs for consumers with mandated payments, mandate content blocking, and reshape commercial deals.

For example, the industry is now calling for new fees to be set by the Copyright Board on all smartphones and tablets to compensate for personal copying. The revival of the so-called “iPod tax” would today go far further than just digital music players, as the coalition is asking the government to amend the Copyright Act to allow for fees to be imposed on all devices. It also wants to extend the term of copyright, require ISPs to block unauthorized commercial uses, report network activity to the industry, and create a mechanism requiring Internet services to renegotiate licensing agreements where ISPs derive “disproportionate” revenues and benefits.


  1. I always hear the industry grumbling at the top of their voices, but what is the corresponding situation with singers and songwriters? Do we have evidence that they are benefiting?
    And if not, is that perchance the publishers not paying them ?(;-))

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