The Cultural Capital Project’s Response to “Shifting Paradigms,” the Report Provided by The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage: Remuneration Models for Artists and Creative Industries

In response to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage “Shifting Paradigms” report, for which we were one of the few non-industry participants, we feel that our evidence and perspective is not well represented. The spirit of our submission is lost in a report that, instead, prioritizes the status quo recommendations that were collectively put forward by music industry representatives and lobbyists.

To briefly summarize our submitted brief, “Putting Users and Small-Scale Creators First in Canadian Copyright Law and Beyond,” our project made the following recommendations:

1. Recognize that increasing market consolidation is at odds with a vibrant and diverse music industry:

  • Antitrust regulation should be pursued to protect a diverse marketplace, not just to ensure competitive pricing.
  • Increase public funding and support dedicated to smaller creators who are more likely to be squeezed out by market consolidation.
  • Increase collaboration with other governments recognizing the importance of protecting diversity

2. Recognize that user rights and the creative commons have value for Canadian creativity and culture and that these should be protected:

  • Retain limits to statutory damages for non-commercial infringement, so that individuals aren’t faced with undue fear of exercising user’s rights.
  • Protect the current notice-and-notice system and strengthen it to protect against misuse/spurious claims.
  • Continue rejecting industry sponsored proposals for site blocking and de-indexing, which disproportionately harm small producers and the general public, for the gains of only a few large industry players.  

3. Consider automatic rights reversions as a way to mitigate the ill effects of term extensions:

  • Copyright Act Amendment that provides for automatic rights reversions to creators after 25 years.
  • Clear language in the Copyright Act that prevents contractual override of rights granted in the Act.

4. Support vibrant arts communities through direct funding and policies other than applying new limitations via the Copyright Act.

  • Any device or user taxes that are implemented to support culture should be progressive and not unduly impact lower income citizens.
  • Increased public funding of new and emerging artists and labels, with fewer restrictions on label size and distribution, and lifetime caps for larger labels.
  • Increased support for local initiatives that support musicians and communities.
  • Support provincial and municipal models of funding and support that recognize the shifting nature of artist income streams

In response to “Shifting Paradigms,” we acknowledge that the report aims to understand the everyday situation of Canadian creators but replicates many of the status quo suggestions and interests of the industry representatives.

There are recommendations that urge tech companies and streaming companies to support the work of Canadian creators, which is in line with our efforts to stress the problems with industry concentration, but there is very little in the way of tangible policy suggestions that provide an indication that these corporations will comply.

The report places much focus on already established modes of protectionism, like Canadian Content for broadcasting and an emphasis on combating piracy, which makes the recommendations feel already dated and against the interests of everyday users. We worry that these recommendations are not in line with actual everyday technological and cultural practices of users. Further, they serve to reproduce and enhance Copyright protections to the benefit of industry and to the detriment of small-scale creators as well as everyday users/listeners.

The report suggests that all witnesses were in favour of the term extension to life plus 70 years when, in fact, this is something we argued against: “A term extension risks preventing a vital public sphere to the benefit of major record labels.” We recognize that CUSMA had been drafted and would be extending the term regardless but we would like to acknowledge our stance as being against the term extension as a productive and progressive move forward for the Canadian music industry, particularly in consideration of small scale creators and users.

We acknowledge that there is an artist protection provision in Recommendation 14, and this is one area in which our submission and brief is represented. However, we recommended a Copyright Act amendment that would make a rights reversion automatic, so it will remain to be seen how this recommendation is applied. We are concerned that if the rights reversion is not properly enforced, the situation will be one in which artist contracts are restructured to avoid this protection provision.  

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