Groupe Archambault, a Montreal based company that owns several small Quebecois
labels and Distribution Select, one of Canada's largest independant distributors,
have decided to take legal action against individuals that distributed material they
own or distribute without authorisation on the internet.
According to Groupe Archambault president and CEO Natalie Lariviere, Quebec based
labels have faired better than most labels, having lost 2.6% of their sales since 2000
compared to 28% in the rest of Canada. But they also wish to protect their upcoming
online music distribution service from further losses by both taking action against
individuals that distribute material online and by informing the Quebecois public that
online piracy is illegal and culturally unacceptable via the media outlets in Quebec.
There are currently three million people downloading music per week in Canada and piracy
is worstening because only 9% of those that pirate material recognise it as theft or believe
their actions are illegal, this according to a 2002 survey quoted by Groupe Archambault.
From the conversations i've had i'd have to agree and say most of them are quite confused about
what is and isn't piracy. This is quite apparent from the anti-RIAA rants in which they
claim the labels are sueing people for simply distributing material online, even material
that was authorised for distribution by indie acts and labels. But i've also recognised a larger
problem in some people - Many believe they are entitled to recordings, more than artists, songwriters
producers and lyricists are entitled to compensation. And they're quite willing to deprive these
people and local retail stores of their share simply because the record company obtains a
large share of the income.
Perhaps the record companies have done too good of a job portraying the music industry as
a glamorous fantasy but i'm puzzled as to why people are missing the operative word in the term
"music business" ; business. Like all businesses they invest for a return and in many
cases they hardly get money back, resulting in less royalties for the artists, etc.
As mentioned in my previous commentary, the music industry is definately to blame for some
loss revenue, a percentage of the reduction is sales being attributed to other factors like the lack
of material for the majority of their consumers and the price of certain CDs. But piracy
is still a major problem that should be addressed before it results in the alarming losses
like that in the states - Before CRIA, our version of RIAA, responds in an aggresive manner
Private Copying & Piracy
Another problem that rears its head is this misconception that people are already being compensated
for piracy with the blank media levy.
The blank audio media levy is paid by the manufacturers and importers of blank media like CD-R, CD-RW,
audio cassettes and a few other media mentioned in my previous article on the subject. It is not paid
directly from the consumer to the government appointed collective. And it is collected to compensate
individuals for "private copying", as defined and legalised in the Private Copying portion of our
Copyright Act. The document clearly states that "distribution, whether or not for the purpose of trade"
and "communicating to the public by telecommunication" is not considered "private copying". (REF : copyright
act, section 80, subsection 2 b & c)
An Eventuality / Accountibility
This Canadian precedent was in my opinion an eventuality ; A response to the
individuals who did not simply download material to preview it once or twice but in response
to those who choose keep material they haven't purchased to blank media instead of supporting our
artists by purchasing the material.
I personally believe that this pre-emptive strike against piracy within Canada is
unfortunately nessesary to protect our country's cultural interests. Yes, the labels should
have instituted their digital distribution systems years ago but legal actions like these
would have happened anyway, in order to protect whatever distribution methods they would
have had. And the public should be made aware that their actions have consequences
in our cultural industries.
The consumer is slowly getting what he/she wants so piracy is inexcusable : Universal
Music has reduced prices. Online purchases of recordings are making their
way into Canada. And the previous copy protection schemes are being reviewed and may be
rescinded for more consumer friendly schemes. We must act responsibly to avoid the
blank audio media levies on hard drives and memory cards,
as proposed by the Canadian Private Copying Collective in 2002,
and the problems
that the Americans are subjected to because of piracy.
Dismissed due to a lack of evidence relating to the actual distribution of the material in question. All appeals