The Canadian music industry gathered in Calgary last weekend for the Juno Awards, the industry’s biggest awards gala that has grown into a week-long event. While the award show is the public face of the Junos, behind the scenes are years of negotiations with governments to provide millions in public funding.
With Ontario hosting the Junos twice in three years – Hamilton hosted in 2015 and Ottawa is slated to host in 2017 – the provincial Liberal government has committed to enormous taxpayer support. My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) reports that according to internal documents recently obtained under the provincial access to information laws, that funding has sparked concerns within government departments due to the mushrooming budgets, inflated claims about the economic impact of the awards, and what officials have described as a “breach [of] the integrity of the objective grant assessment process.”
Earlier this year, I wrote about the problems associated with the Ontario Music Fund (OMF), the provincial government’s flagship funding program for the music industry. The fund, which is administered by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), has doled out nearly $30 million in two years despite little public transparency on how the money has been spent and questionable claims about job creation.
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Earlier this month, the British Columbia government unveiled a new $15 million music fund to support the local music industry. The fund matches a similar Ontario initiative that has doled out nearly $30 million over the past two years with a commitment from Premier Kathleen Wynne to make the Ontario Music Fund a permanent program to support the industry.
The millions of taxpayer dollars earmarked for the music industry represents a major success for the industry lobby, which shifted several years ago from focusing on digital copyright reform to identifying new sources of government financial support.
My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that despite the industry accolades, the Ontario program suffers from a surprising lack of transparency with virtually no public information on how the money is actually spent. Moreover, according to documents obtained under provincial access to information laws, the Liberal government has exaggerated the impact of the first round of funding with the creation of relatively few new full-time positions and limited international investment in the province.
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Leslie Chan has a great primer on open access in Academic Matters.
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Last week, I posted a 2008 election copyright pledge that focused on three commitments for copyright reform – respecting both creators and consumers, ensuring that any reforms do not undermine or weaken user rights such as fair dealing, and committing to full public consultations on any reforms before introducing a bill and inclusive hearings once tabled.
The initial reaction to the pledge has been very strong. I am pleased to advise that the Green Party (as a party) has agreed to the pledge. In addition, the following NDP MPs have added their names as supporters:
- Charlie Angus, New Democrat MP, Timmins-James Bay, ON
- Olivia Chow, New Democrat MP, Trinity-Spadina, ON
- Libby Davies, New Democrat MP, Vancouver East, BC
- Michael Byers, New Democrat Candidate, Vancouver Centre, BC
- Anne Lagacé Dowson, New Democrat Candidate, Westmount, QC
- Phil Brown, New Democrat Candidate, Nepean-Carleton, ON
- John Chan, New Democrat Candidate, Calgary Centre-North, AB
- Tyler Kinch, New Democrat Candidate, Calgary Centre, AB
It is great to see the momentum behind a commitment to fair copyright reform in Canada (and note that Angus has just issued a press release focusing on NDP opposition to C-61). With just under two weeks until the election, there is still time to raise the issue with local candidates. Raise it today in your riding and let me know if you receive any responses. I'll post an updated list next week. The pledge again:
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