Canadian record industry won't say what it wants

Michael Geist:
Last week, the Canadian Recording Industry Association appeared before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage with discussion that focused largely on copyright reform (media coverage of the appearance here). While copyright was the key issue, what was striking was CRIA's reluctance to actually specify what reforms it supports. That may sound unusual, but a review of recent public statements suggests that it is actually quite typical. In recent years, CRIA has become very reluctant to provide specific views on reforms, seemingly relying instead on the sort of backdoor, lobbyist-inspired meetings that are the talk of Ottawa.

The transcript has not been posted yet, however, a review of the unofficial transcript shows that CRIA President Graham Henderson provided no legal specifics in his opening statement. During questioning, he was repeatedly avoided responding directly when asked what his organization wants.

This is hardly the first time CRIA has avoided taking a public stand on specific copyright reforms. During last summer's copyright consultation, it was one of the only major copyright organizations that did not even bother with an individual submission.

Why does CRIA say virtually nothing specific about what it actually seeks? Based on lobbying records, perhaps it is because it saves its real comments for what takes place behind closed doors. There are 19 records of meetings for CRIA representatives with a wide range of government officials including Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore - the iPadLock Minister - from the period of August 2008 to February 2010 (or 19 entries over a 19 month period). Even the content of those meetings may be kept secret. A recent access to information request on a presentation by Barry Sookman on ISP exceptions in Bill C-61 to government officials in 2009 excluded virtually all substantive materials on the grounds that it "contains commercially valuable information."

Why Is CRIA Reluctant To Provide Public Specifics About Copyright Reform?


  1. For people that are so concerned about “commercially valuable information” they are quite public about how many billions they are loosing due to piracy.

  2. A wise man once said:
    You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes… you get what you need.
    I think we should call for suggestions on what the CRIA needs.

  3. A friend of mine reissued blues recordings from the 1920s and 1930s and was prepared to pay royalties if any of the singers ever turned up and pressed a claim. I don’t know that he ever had to do that. Sales were to a pretty narrow market of collectors.
    I saw him at the post office one day. He said, “Records had a hundred year run. That’s pretty good.”
    A longtime friend just issued an album without going through a record company. For a flat one time fee and no percentage of sales, a company makes the entire album and individual cuts available on the usual download sites. Times change, get over it.

    1. My father has been involved in helping get old music re-issued on CD before it is lost forever. As I understand it, everything recorded on 78’s is in public domain.

      Of course those laws may be a changin’…

  4. Does Canada have any sort of ‘government in the sunshine’ laws which make meetings between lobbyists and government officials public record?

  5. The last I heard, CRIA only represents PART of the Canadian record industry.

    In November of last year This Magazine reported that 30% of the Canadian music industry was made up of true Independents who had entirely bypassed the big media corporations that make up the CRIA.

    Pay indie artists and break the music monopoly — Legalize Music Piracy

    Among other things, many artists have realized independent production means they don’t have to give up their control of copyright to CRIA companies now that they can distribute their own wares online.

    CRIA only represents SOME of the Canadian recording industry.

  6. I wasn’t referring purely to a matter of copyright. My friend was more interested in providing some compensation to performers who probably realized little or none when the record was first made.
    Two old time blues fans would send postcards to general delivery in towns throughout the south in search of long vanished performers. One day they got a response that was for real. They couldn’t pack their recording gear into their car quickly enough.

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