Canadian Content in a Digital World is an extremely important consultation process initiated by the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage. As I have reported previously, by opening up many laws and their respective boards, we have an opportunity right now, to equalize what was lost through the evolution of digital distribution. However, this revisit presents imminent danger, as those who utilize digital content and those who profit from it, are also welcome to present their wish list. A detailed presentation by the CFM is imperative, as well as joining other organizations of like minds, in order to counter the demands of a profit-focused industry. The deadline for written submission was November 25, and the following is a short summary of our full brief.
This consultation should lay the foundation for the regulatory and policy tools and financial support needed to ensure that Canadian professional musicians thrive in the digital environment now and for the years ahead.
1) Amend the definition of “sound recording.” The current definition of sound recording in the Copyright Act needs to be amended so that performers can collect royalties when their recorded performances of music on the soundtracks of audiovisual works, such as TV programs and movies, are broadcast or streamed on the Internet and when they are presented in movie theatres. Also, we recommend ratification of the Beijing Treaty.
2) Remove the $1.25 million royalty exemption for commercial broadcasters. Amending the Copyright Act to remove this unnecessary exemption for commercial radio would add millions of dollars’ worth of royalties for recording artists.
3) Expand private copying to include new copying technology. In the course of this consultation, the government should undertake to prepare the necessary legislative changes needed to update the private-copying regime to reflect advances in digital copying technology.
4) Reform the Copyright Board. Improvements to the operations and practices of the Copyright Board, which are procedural and regulatory in nature, need to be addressed and implemented as soon as possible.
5) Reduce piracy in the digital world. Our cultural policies and laws must offer a practical response to piracy that better aligns with how Canadians consume content, and that helps Canadian professional musicians and other content creators succeed in a digital, global market.
6) Value Canadian content. Valuing culture through up-to-date legislation, funding innovation and creativity, and education is “key to having a strong society, a vibrant democracy, and to promoting Canadian cultural content to the world.”
7) End runaway post-production. We urge the Minister of Canadian Heritage to make changes to the CAVCO qualifications in order to disincentive domestic media producers from using offshore musicians to record scores for Canadian movies and television programs created by Canadian musicians in Canada.
8) Continue funding for musicians. We encourage the federal government to continue to support the Canadian music industry through a series of direct and indirect measures.
9) Update Canadian content regulations. We urge the government to work with the music community to transition content quotas and the MAPL designation from an analog to a digital world.
10) Support venues for live performance. The federal government needs to work with provincial and local governments to ensure that there is adequate funding to support venues where recording artists can perform live.
11) Improve music education. We recommend that governments at all levels work together to improve music learning in our public schools.
12) Support export of Canadian musicians. We ask that the government follow through with its commitment, made in the Music Industry Review, to improve funding and support for Canadian musicians touring domestically and internationally.
While a thoughtful and comprehensive submission is essential, we continue to lobby Ottawa, attend Department of Heritage seminars/panels, and push hard to ensure the government recognizes that the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada is the only voice they should consider when inviting input from musicians in the artists/creators sector of this country.