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The cultural sector mobilizes around copyright reform

CCA Bulletin 5/11

February 3, 2011

 

Just the Facts

Earlier today, the Canadian Conference of the Arts (CCA) participated in a press conference held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to make public Canada’s Cultural Industries’ joint statement on Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act. The statement is signed by 88 national and provincial arts service organizations from all arts and culture disciplines. Bill C-32 is currently the object of study by a special legislative committee of the House of Commons.

The joint statement brings together an unprecedented coalition of organizations from the arts and culture industries representing writers, performers, actors, illustrators, musicians, composers, publishers, poets, playwrights, producers and songwriters who are all urging Parliamentarians to make changes to Bill C-32. This coalition is part of a $46 billion industry that employs more than 600,000 Canadians and that, as often stated by Heritage Minister James Moore, contributes twice as much to the GDP as the forestry industry.

On February 1, the CCA appeared in front of the committee to state its position on the bill, and over the coming weeks and months, more arts and culture organizations will have the opportunity to explain their views. This could change if this bill follows its two predecessors Bills 60 and 61, and dies on the order papers because of the launch of a federal election. Arts organizations presenting to the committee will press for specific amendments to make sure that the revised Copyright Act protects artists’ and creators’ exclusive intellectual property rights and their right to equitable remuneration for the use of their works.

The CCA recognizes that parts of Bill C-32 obviously respond to the needs of one particular market in the cultural sector – that of larger companies and multinationals – but that the same remedy cannot be applied to over 42% of Canadian artists and creators who are self-employed. This is why the CCA urges Parliamentarians to either amend the offending articles or delete them altogether so as to pass the part of the bill that suits the needs of some, without ignoring the realities and hurting the interests of so many Canadian artists.

The general position of the cultural sector on Bill C-32 as it stands is that it weakens the core principles of copyright law that have historically ensured a healthy environment for creators, producers, distributors and consumers of Canadian cultural content. It will compromise Canada’s competitiveness in the global digital economy and undermine the economic future of creators of Canadian content. Artists argue that the proposed changes in the bill reflect a lack of understanding of the structure of creative industries in today’s rapidly evolving digital economy. Parliament needs to amend the legislation and salvage C-32’s positive provisions. Canada’s hopes for a vibrant and innovative digital economy are only as strong as its protection of intellectual property, the raw material of the knowledge economy, and C-32 as it stands is a step back, rather than a step forward.

The financial consequences of passing Bill C-32 as it now stands will amount to a loss in revenue for Canada’s arts and culture industries of at least $126 million per year. These are losses that creators and their families cannot afford. And this figure is only based on quantifiable losses: lost opportunities to monetize re-use of content could also have a significant negative impact on the livelihood of creators.

At a minimum, the joint statement signatories would like to see the following revisions made to Bill C-32 before it passes:

Delete all sections in the bill that would eliminate existing revenue streams for creators and copyright owners, including those that:
  • legalize, without compensation, certain types of reproductions, e.g. broadcast reproductions, private copying onto digital audio recorders;
  • provide for education exceptions without compensation to the copyright owners of educational materials for primary and secondary uses of their works;
  • allow the exploitation of works in other ways without permission or compensation to the creator, e.g. user-generated content (i.e. the YouTube or “mash up” exception).

Add the following:

  • the “three-step test”, to comply with Canada’s international treaty obligations (i.e. to qualify as an exception or a limitation to copyright protection, the use of works must be limited to certain special cases, not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work, and not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the author);
  • a visual artists’ resale right, to align Canada with our trade partners (i.e. ensure that visual artists share in the profits made from subsequent sales of their work);
  • a notice and takedown regime applicable to ISPs, to more effectively address online copyright infringements and piracy.
What can I do?

For more information on the impacts of Bill C-32 on Canadian creators, arts and culture industries and collectives, please visit www.c32jointstatement.ca to read the full statement.