The Musicians Chime in on Copyright

Today is World Intellectual Property Day.

Just in time for our Copyright Week, a who’s who of Canadian Music announced yesterday the formation of the Canadian Music Creators Coalition.

They are a strong force:

Barenaked Ladies,
Avril Lavigne,
Sarah McLachlan,
Chantal Kreviazuk,
Sum 41,
Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace),
Dave Bidini (Rheostatics),
Billy Talent,
John K. Samson (Weakerthans),
Broken Social Scene,
Andrew Cash
Bob Wiseman (Co-founder Blue Rodeo)

What is interesting from a copyright perspective is that they are articulating an artist-based, rather than label-based view of copyright:

We are a growing coalition of Canadian music creators who share the common goal of having our voices heard about the laws and policies that affect our livelihoods. We are the people who actually create Canadian music. Without us, there would be no music for copyright laws to protect.

Until now, a group of multinational record labels has done most of the talking about what Canadian artists need out of copyright. Record companies and music publishers are not our enemies, but let’s be clear: lobbyists for major labels are looking out for their shareholders, and seldom speak for Canadian artists. Legislative proposals that would facilitate lawsuits against our fans or increase the labels’ control over the enjoyment of music are made not in our names, but on behalf of the labels’ foreign parent companies.

It is the government’s responsibility to protect Canadian artists from exploitation. This requires a firm commitment to programs that support Canadian music talent, and a fresh approach to copyright law reform. Canadian music creators have identified three principles that should guide the copyright reform process.

1. Suing Our Fans is Destructive and Hypocritical
Artists do not want to sue music fans. The labels have been suing our fans against our will, and laws enabling these suits cannot be justified in our names. We oppose any copyright reforms that would make it easier for record companies to do this. The government should repeal provisions of the Copyright Act that allow labels to unfairly punish fans who share music for non-commercial purposes with statutory damages of $500 to $20,000 per song.

2. Digital Locks are Risky and Counterproductive
Artists do not support using digital locks to increase the labels’ control over the distribution, use and enjoyment of music or laws that prohibit circumvention of such technological measures. The government should not blindly implement decade-old treaties designed to give control to major labels and take choices away from artists and consumers. Laws should protect artists and consumers, not restrictive technologies. Consumers should be able to transfer the music they buy to other formats under a right of fair use, without having to pay twice.

3. Cultural Policy Should Support Actual Canadian Artists
The vast majority of new Canadian music is not promoted by major labels, which focus mostly on foreign artists. The government should use other policy tools to support actual Canadian artists and a thriving musical and cultural scene. The government should make a long-term commitment to grow support mechanisms like the Canada Music Fund and FACTOR, invest in music training and education, create limited tax shelters for copyright royalties, protect artists from inequalities in bargaining power and make collecting societies more transparent.

More at their Press Release and their five page Policy Paper


  1. Put me on the list! Hey, I give gangs of my music away. I think it’s the artists responsibility to make a living off the music. If they were more creative and in control, we wouldn’t be running the show like it’s a big business.

    One point…I don’t think the record companies are our friends though. I look at them more as a tool.