New Parliamentary Report on Copyright Act Reform Offers Significant Recommendations to Improve Payment for Musicians

Following months of consultations and fact finding, the federal government’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage tabled in the House of Commons its Shifting Paradigms report as part of its study on Remuneration Models for Artists and Creative Industries to propose recommendations related to the statutory review of the Copyright Act. While having a few reservations, both SOCAN and Music Canada have reacted mostly favourably to the report’s recommendations.

In the extensive report, which can be read HERE, the committee details 22 recommendations for the government that it believes would improve remuneration models for artists and creative industries and make it fairer and easier for creators and arts industries to be paid fairly in the digital era while also promoting and protecting Canadian artistic content.

The report was based on testimony from dozens of creators and representatives from Canada’s creative industries, as well as broadcasters, digital services, and other key commercial users and distributors. It addresses weaknesses in Canada’s Copyright Act, identifying elements that have not kept pace with technology in the music marketplace. Among its key recommendations is addressing Canada’s broad “safe harbour” laws, eliminating or narrowing exemptions from the Copyright Act that prevent creators from being fairly compensated, combating modern forms of piracy (like stream ripping) and strengthening the enforcement of Canada’s copyright laws.

While the report examines and lays out recommendations for a number of arts industries, including music, writing and publishing, film and TV, and visual arts, the music industry is addressed extensively. A number of music representatives are specifically quoted throughout, including artist advocate Miranda Mulholland, Music Canada CEO Graham Henderson, Paul Novotny of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada, Jerry Cans band member Andrew Morrison, and more.

The recommendations are (more detailed explanations for each recommendation are found in the report):

Recommendation 1
That the Government of Canada increase its support for creators and creative industries in adapting to new digital markets

Recommendation 2
That the Government of Canada develop mechanisms by which streaming services will develop and promote Canadian content.

Recommendation 3
That the Government of Canada create educational materials to raise awareness of copyright provisions and artist remuneration for consumers.

Recommendation 4
That the Government of Canada create educational materials to raise awareness of copyright provisions as well as artists’ rights and responsibilities under the Copyright Act for artists and creators

Recommendation 5
That the Government of Canada review the safe harbour exceptions and laws to ensure that Internet service providers are accountable for their role in the distribution of content.

Recommendation 6
That the Government of Canada increase its efforts to combat piracy and enforce copyright

Recommendation 7
That the Government of Canada pursue its commitment to implement the extension of copyright from 50 to 70 years after the author’s death.

Recommendation 8
That music streaming services be regulated like other Canadian music services

Recommendation 9
That tariffs for online music services be reviewed by the Copyright Board to ensure royalty payments provide fair compensation for artists.

Recommendation 10
That the Government of Canada amend the radio royalty exemption found at section 68.1(1) of the Copyright Act so that it applies only to independent and/or community-based radio stations.

Recommendation 11
That the Government of Canada amend the definition of sound recording found in section 2 of the Copyright Act to allow sound recordings used in television and film to be eligible for public performance remuneration

Recommendation 12
That the Government of Canada review, clarify and/or remove exceptions contained in the Copyright Act, ensuring that any exception respects section 9 of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, to which Canada is a signatory.

Recommendation 13
That the Government of Canada meet international treaty obligations (including Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement, and World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty).

Recommendation 14
That the Government of Canada amend subsection 14(1) of the Copyright Act so that it reads “from 25 years after assignment.”

Recommendation 15
That the exception for charitable organizations in subsection 32.2(3) of the Copyright Act be clarified to apply strictly to activities where no commercial monetary gain is intended.

Recommendation 16
That the Government of Canada extend moral and economic rights to audiovisual performers.

Recommendation 17
That the Government of Canada amend section 34.1 of the Copyright Act to deem the screenwriter and director the co-owners of copyright and co-authors of a television or cinematographic work.

Recommendation 18
That Government of Canada amend the Act to clarify that fair dealing should not apply to educational institutions when the work is commercially available

Recommendation 19
That the Government of Canada promote a return to licensing through collective societies.

Recommendation 20
That the Government of Canada review, harmonize and improve the enforcement of the statutory damages for infringement for non-commercial use in section 38.1(1) of the Copyright Act.

Recommendation 21
That the Government of Canada harmonize remedies for collective societies under the Copyright Act.

Recommendation 22
That the Government of Canada establish an artist’s resale right.

After the report was published, SOCAN released a statement saying that, after first reading, it “is satisfied with the Committee's recommendations, particularly with respect to extending the term of copyright protection (Recommendation 7), better regulating certain exceptions (Recommendation 15) and also creating a Resale Right in Canada (Recommendation 22).”

"Now that the report is tabled, we hope the responsible ministers will take note of the recommendations and implement them in the near future," says SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. "These recommendations reflected an effort that transcends partisan affiliations and represents a growing consensus for the need to strengthen the growth of the Canadian creative ecosystem."

SOCAN does say, though, that it regrets the lack of a recommendation to make the private copying regime technologically neutral – “an omission even more incomprehensible, since the demand was commonly shared by all players in the music community,” the organization says.

“I applaud the members of the committee for listening to the voices of artists and the businesses who support music and for taking these critical first steps toward addressing the Value Gap in Canada,” says Music Canada President and CEO Graham Henderson. “The Committee’s report provides a series of thoughtful and concrete recommendations to address the underlying causes of the value gap. Many of the recommendations will significantly and immediately improve the lives of artists and our industry.”

The report’s recommendations on music specifically call for limiting the Radio Royalty Exemption to only community and/or independent stations. The report also calls for amending the definition of “sound recording” in the Copyright Act so that recordings used in television programs and films would be eligible for public performance royalties.

“Today’s report moves Canada into a leadership role in the international effort to close the Value Gap and address the harm being done to creators everywhere by overly broad safe harbour laws,” adds Henderson.

“As a working musician, I am glad to see the Heritage Committee has given such careful consideration to improving the copyright framework supporting the music industry in Canada. The recommendations in this report would go a long way in restoring the musician’s middle class,” says Eon Sinclair, a JUNO Award-winning bassist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and a founding member of the Canadian band Bedouin Soundclash. Sinclair is also a member of the Music Canada Advisory Council.

“In order for these recommendations to make an impact on the music community, they must become law,” concludes Henderson. “Music Canada looks forward to working with the Government to reform the Copyright Act as soon as possible to reflect the Committee’s recommendations.”

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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