For the past two mornings, CBC Radio's Business Network has featured an asynchronous debate between myself and CRIA's Graham Henderson. The Henderson interview [Real] includes claims that it is the failure to reform copyright law that is to blame for industry woes. Henderson adds that Canadians have a developed a culture where they won't pay for music and therefore investors won't invest in the Canadian music industry.
My interview [Real] hits on many of the points I've made in postings over the past few months:
- Digital downloads actually grew faster last year in Canada in 2006 than they did in the U.S. or Europe. While Canada starts from a smaller base, that reflects the fact that iTunes only arrived here in late 2004.
- The digital download figures fail to account for the revenues from the private copying levy. Throw in the $30 – 40 million collected last year alone and the amount that Canadians are paying for digital music becomes very significant.
- CRIA's push for copyright reform continues its ill-advised emphasis on DRM and anti-circumvention legislation. The industry is shifting away from this as consumers don't want music that won't play on their iPod or allow them to transfer between devices. Moreover, Sony rootkit-type cases cause real damage to the industry's reputation and drive fans away.
- CRIA is increasingly isolated within the Canadian market. Last year, the major Canadian indie labels left CRIA and the CMCC provided a new voice to many of Canada's best known musicians. In fact, according to documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, last year eleven professional organizations representing most Canadian copyright holders in the music industry, including songwriters, composers, performers, record producers, and publishers, wrote to Ministers Oda and Bernier to reject CRIA's new opposition to the private copying system and to "express their reservations concerning the legal protection of technological measures used to limit access to, or reproduction of, musical works."
CRIA's insistence on focusing on copyright as the source of its problems – along with its continual derision of Canadian policy and the motives of Canadians – is genuinely difficult to understand. Even more difficult to understand, notwithstanding the well-documented fundraising issues, is why the government keeps granting it unparalleled access.