Music Industry

So, what does it mean ?

As you may have heard the Conservative Party was elected as a majority in Canadian Parliament yesterday, the New Democratic Party having been elected into the opposition. And you must be wondering what next ?

Well, it obvious that copyright reform will likely be on the agenda shortly.

When the election was called Bill C-32 died whilst it was being reviewed by a legislative committee, the legislation’s digital lock provisions having been a major issue.

Had Bill C-32 passed, consumers in Canada would have been able to make private copies but would not have been able to circumvent copy protection to do it.

This meant that the counsumer would again be subjected to the whims and experimentations of the film and music distributors, who in the past had attempted to impose digital locks that kept people from copying material, even for personal use, to the extent that it caused security issues (i.e Sony BMG’s rootkit).

Basically Bill C-32 appeared to give the music and film industries an ability to disable private copying whenever it suited them, independently from the democratic process, whilst possibly giving them the ability to impose additional levies to conform to several World Intellectual Property Organization treaties. And of course this didn’t bode well with the Canadian consumer, who refused to pay the exhorbitant rates proposed on iPods/mp3 players and were wary of RIAA style copyright litigation.

Format shifting, the ability to copy copyrighted material from one medium or device to another, will probably remain a major issue in the forthcoming new copyright reform bill. And i’m hoping we have progressed on the issue.

The majority of consumers simply want more control in regards to the accessibility and portability of the content they purchase. They should not be subjected to obtuse allegations of piracy nor should be subjected to levies or taxes on devices on which they store legally purchased material.

Royalties are obtained from this legally purchased material, some of which is dependant on the existance of devices that enable the consumer to access this material.

For example, if it weren’t for iPods and mp3 players the consumer would not be purchasing music downloads from legal distributors, who pay royalties to rights agencies.

Levies on such devices may sound good to some artists but in reality it would result in fewer purchases because the consumer would eventually be presented these extra costs by the manufacturers. After all, the WIPO treaty ratifications would have resulted in additional levies for foreign content, resulting in prohibitive costs for the consumer.

This may be being sold as a compensation scheme for artists and composers but in reality quite a large amount of levies collected from the sale of blank audio media failed to be distributed from the current levy.

According to the Canadian Private Copyright Collective ‘s financial highlights, only $183,301,000 of the $284,878,000 collected from 1999 to 2009 was distributed. And nearly 11% of the monies collected were used as expendatures by the collective itself.

One can only guess how much of these levies would remain available for distribution if international copyright owners were to get levies. But is clear that all of these schemes would be quite costly to the consumer.

In March 2002, the CPCC had requested a rate of $21 per gig, as publisized in the Canada Gazette, and the Copyright Board had decided on a rate of $15 or $25 per device in December 2003 until having their decision overturned by the Federal Court Of Appeal, twice.

I certianly hope both the Conservatives and New Democrats appreciate the fact that this is not the time to hinder the sale of consumer products by introducing costly levies that fail to be distributed to the artists and composers.

Myspace For Sale / Delicious Sold

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that News Corp. is hoping to sell Myspace for $100 million.

According to the paper, three potential buyers are interested in the social networking site : private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, Redscout Ventures and Bebo owner Criterion Capital Partners.

Meanwhile Yahoo has managed to sell Delicious, its bookmarking service, to Youtube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen Yesterday for an undisclosed amount.

Google Videos Moving To Youtube

According to a recent blog entry, Google is moving their video content to Youtube.

This means people who have uploaded content to Google will be given an option to download this content durring the migration, as well as information on how to migrate this content to Youtube.

The previously published deadline, which was April 29th, 2011, has been reversed and the content will remain accessible for the time being.

IMSLP Attacked By UK Music Publishers

The International Music Score Library Project was knocked offline temporarily this week by a DMCA complaint by the Music Publisher’s Association (UK).

Appearently they had attempted to impose EU copyright laws on this Canadian site because the IMSLP had published Sergei Rachmaninoff‘s “The Bells, Op.35“, a score that is considered public domain in Canada and the United States.

This score had been originally published prior to 1923 and in countries where copyright is limited to 50 years after the death of the composer the material is public domain. In 1993 the European Union had adopted a term of 70 years instead of 50, resulting in a complaint in regards to this specific composition.

This incident has resulted in alot of discussions online in regards to Canada’s attempts to reform copyright and our conformity to international law.

Many Canadians are concerned that the European Union’s music publishers are attempting to impose their terms in Canada, the IMSLP having been previously subjected to a takedown in October 2007 by European classical music publishing firm Universal Edition over numerous compositions. And Canada is currently in talks with the European Union in regards to a free-trade pact, which includes discussions on intellectual property.

HMV Canada For Sale ?

The CBC has reported that HMV Canada may be sold by Maidstone, England based HMV Group PLC to pay for a $200 Million dollar debt.

The company claims that they have not discussed the sale to a potential buyer yet.

Government Fails. Bill C-32 is Dead

The Copyright Modernization Act has died because of today’s non-confidence vote.

Bill C-32 had been proposed by Tony Clement, the Minister of Industry, and had referred to a Legislative Committee headed by Gordon Brown, MP for Leeds—Grenville (Ontario).

Hopefully it will be re-introduced minus some of the more questionable Digital Lock restrictions.