Canadian Law

Canadian Labels Settle Lawsuit

Four of the major labels in Canada have settled a class action lawsuit against them for the unauthorized use and distribution of recordings, as well as unpaid mechanical and video royalties.

EMI Music Canada Inc., Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada Inc. and Warner Music Canada Co. have agreed to pay approximately $47.5 Million dollars to songwriters and music publishers that had not been compensated the use of their works in certain compilations and live recordings.

The class action lawsuit alledged that the labels had distributed over 300,000 works without authorization or compensation, fifty of which whose copyright is owned or partly owned by the estate of Chet Baker, the renown jazz trumpet player, arranger and composer.

According to January 10th, 2010 press release, the settlement will be distributed to the plaintiffs via the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), and Société du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs au Canada (SODRAC).

Interesting Move by Quebec Government

Appearently it is the Quebecan provincial government’s opinion that the recession can be counteracted by higher sales taxes.

Today the provincial sales taxes in Quebec went up 1% to 8.5%. And another 1% hike is scheduled on New Years Day 2012.

I guess they got this brilliant idea from the provincial governments of Ontario, BC and Nova Scotia, who all hiked and/or extended their taxes in July.

In my opinion these additional taxes hinder our recovery.

They burden smaller retailers, who will probably consider this the last nail in their coffin, and force larger retailers to cut expendatures and staff.

It is obviously counterproductive.

Ontario’s Eco Fees Confuse Consumers

If you’re an ONtario resident and you’re confused as to why you’re paying for eco-fees, then you’re no alone.

According to a December 23rd, 2003 article in the Ottawa Citizen, people are still getting sticker shock, having believed these fees were discontinued in October.

The problem is that the government actually said they would be discontinueing the expansion of these fees, which means some items are still being subjected to these fees, some under different programs.

For example, tires are still being subjected to eco fees under the Ontario Tire Stewardship program and electronics like televisions are subject to eco fees via a program operated by the Ontario Electronics Stewardship.

What the Government of Ontario refrained from implementing was a second phase of eco fees, on fluorescent tubes and bulbs, aerosols, portable fire extinguishers, mercury-containing devices, and corrosives, such as acidic cleaning products, drain openers, pool and spa chemicals, masonry products and paint remover.

The remaining first phase results in eco fees on :

* Household paints and coatings and their containers
* Solvents, such as thinners for paint, lacquer and contact cement, paint strippers and degreasers, and their containers
* Used oil filters
* Oil containers of 30 litres or less
* Single-use, dry cell batteries
* Automotive antifreeze (engine coolant) and related containers
* Pressured containers, such as propane tanks and cylinders
* Fertilizers and their containers
* Pesticides, including fungicides, herbicides and insecticides, and their containers

Additional information on the eco fees can be found at makethedrop.ca and stewardshipontario.ca.

Liberals Respond To iPod Tax / Bill C-32

It appears that the Liberal Party do not support the so called iPod Tax after all, according to a press release found on their web site.

Like the conservatives they do not see any future for such levies. The Liberals would rather “introduce a new Private Copying Compensation Payment of $35 million to be transferred to Canadian artists each year, through the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC)” according to the press release.

The funds for this compensation, for “uncompensated downloads”, would not come from ISPs or from a levy, the party having recognized that the consumer wants neither.

They also recognized the bill’s digital locks provision restricted the consumer’s ability to make personal copies of material they’ve purchased and would alter this provision to allow copies for personal use.

The other general alterations they propose are the clarification of the definitions of “fair use”, specifically the education use and “mash-up” provisions. They want educational institutions to qualify for the exemption.

Bill C-32 has been referred to a Legislative Committee headed by Gordon Brown, MP for Leeds—Grenville (Ontario).

Please contact your local Member Of Parliament to voice your comments and concerns in regards to the proposed amendments to the Copyright Act.

Thank you.

ACTRA Wants Hard Drives/Mp3 Players Levied

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists has asked the government to not only extend the private copying levy to Mp3 players but want hard drives levied and the fair dealing exemptions for educational institutions provisions dropped.

In a press release issued on November 16th, the organization claims that Bill C-32 “rips millions of dollars from creators’ pockets”. And in a November 5th press release they also state “Institutions pay the full cost of desks, computers and teacher salaries, why would they not pay for the content deemed valuable enough to use in their classrooms?

Well, according to the Private Copying amendments the items currently being levied are primarily used as recording media. Mp3 players failed to be levied because they were not technically recording media and hard drives and flash drives failed to be levied because they were not primarily used to copy audio recordings.

Has the situation changed since the last rulings ? No.

ACTRA may claim that Bill C-32 “isn’t good for consumers” but if the Copyright Act were altered to enable the levying of devices like Mp3 players and hard drives, the consumer would be paying significantly more via the manufacturers and importers of these devices.

One only has to review the exorbitant rates the Canadian Private Copying Collective had applied for on the levied media in the past to know that the Canadian consumer is secondary.

Does $21 per gig on mp3 players sound consumer friendly ? How about $2.27 per recordable/rewritable DVD ? Those were the requested rates for 2003/2004, as published in the March 9th, 2002 Supplement of the Canada Gazette (Supplement, Vol. 136, No. 10).

These proposed levies are in no way good for the consumer because it opens the door for additional levies on other products.

ACTRA not only represents radio artists but performers in film and television. And their November 16th statement they claim the film, television, video game and book industries would also face losses because of Bill C-32 :

If Canadian cultural industries are to keep producing films, TV programs, video games, music and books, we can’t afford a bill like C-32 that rips millions of dollars from creators’ pockets“.

The devices on which films, TV programs, video games and ebooks are recorded, downloaded and/or displayed are not currently levied and Bill C-32 calls for an ability by Canadian consumers to perform backups of some of this material.

What will be levied next ?

Even Rolling Stone gets it !

Rolling Stone Magazine has openly criticized the record executives in the United States in a statement published in the magazine, according to Icanhasinternets.

In this statement, entitled “A Big Fat Thanks To Record Execs”, Rolling Stone Magazine states that because of their actions “millions of kids will stop wasting time listening to new music and seeking new bands”. And I tend to agree with them.

The internet has great potential as a promotional medium and heavy prosecution only hinders progress.

Yes, it isn’t perfect. But with a bit of work and investment it can become the new “radio” or “music television”.