Creative groups welcome Copyright Act review announcement, stressing the need for meaningful reforms

On December 14, the Government of Canada announced that the Standing Committee on Industry will undertake the statutory review of the Copyright Act.

Creators have been eagerly awaiting this review, as it presents a vital opportunity for the government to stand up for Canadian creators, and ensure that they receive fair remuneration for their work in the evolving digital landscape.

There is reason to be optimistic that this review will bring reforms that benefit creators. In the government’s release, The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, spoke of the need to ensure Canadian creators are compensated fairly for the use of their work:

“Our government is committed to helping Canadian creators succeed and having great content easily discovered and enjoyed in Canada and abroad. This requires a copyright framework that works well in the context of our fast-paced digital world and provides creators with opportunities to get fair value for their work.”

The government release also notes that “it is critical for Canada to maintain a comprehensive copyright framework, one in which Canadian creators get fairly compensated for their work, users benefit from great choices and business can thrive.”

The announcement was widely welcomed by creative industry groups, including several supporting partners of the Focus On Creators coalition:

Importantly, amid the excitement and optimism there is also a sense of urgency to improve the current situation for creators. Many who congratulated Minister Bains and Minister Joly on the announcement also stressed the need for a full and meaningful review of the Act.

“Music creators, and all creators who depend on copyright, deserve a Copyright Act that protects their rights when their works are commercialized by others,” said Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada. “This is our chance to address the Value Gap threatening the livelihood of Canadian creators and the future of Canadian culture.”

Artist advocate Miranda Mulholland, who recently gave a keynote address in Ottawa on success in the digital marketplace to an audience that included political decision-makers, was also quoted in Music Canada’s release on the importance of strong copyright provisions:

“A modern copyright framework containing strong IP and copyright provisions is essential for an effective marketplace for music creators. This Copyright Act review is an important first step in ensuring artists and labels are able to earn a fair market value for their work. Canadian creators have been eagerly awaiting this review.”

Access Copyright’s statement touches on the importance of the Copyright Act review for authors and publishers:

“Access Copyright is pleased to see this important review underway. Since the Copyright Modernization Act in 2012, creators and publishers have experienced a drastic reduction in their income for the use of their work by the education sector. This important review heralds a critical opportunity to re-examine the role that copyright plays for both creators and users and address the Value Gap caused by 2012 amendments to the Act to ensure continued access to outstanding Canadian content for our classrooms.”

Access Copyright also drew attention to I Value Canadian Stories, “an initiative spearheaded by a coalition of associations across the creative industries who are calling on the federal government to restore fair compensation to creators and publishers for the use of their works by the education sector during this review.”

Eric Baptiste, Chief Executive Officer of SOCAN, called for Canada to assume a global leadership position on copyright:

“Canadian copyright legislation is lagging behind those of other G7 countries, and I hope that, through this review, Canada will want to assume a world leadership position on copyright, as it does on other issues. In a sector in turmoil, especially with the arrival of new ways to consume and listen to music, more than ever we need strong copyright protection to ensure that music creators and publishers are fairly compensated for their work.”

More than 3,600 Canadian creators have signed our letter to Minister Joly. Now that the review has officially been announced, it is more important than ever to urge the Government of Canada to put creators at the heart of future policy. If you’re a Canadian creator and haven’t yet signed our letter, please read it and sign if you agree.

As the review process unfolds, Focus On Creators will share new developments and any opportunities for Canadian creators to make their voices heard.

Federal Government opens consultations on reforming the Copyright Board of Canada

On August 9, the federal government launched consultations on reforming the Copyright Board of Canada. The goal of Copyright Board reform, according to the government release, is to “enable creators to get paid properly and on time,” and to “create new business opportunities in the current fast-moving economic environment.” The release also states that getting the Copyright Board system right would mean “more money for creators and users and less money being spent on legal fees.”

The announcement was made by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

The Copyright Board is an economic regulatory board empowered to establish royalties paid for the use of copyrighted works, when the administration of these copyrights is entrusted to a collective administrative society.  Royalty rates established by the Board include the reproduction of musical works, educational and private copying, public performance of music, and other rights that are vital to creators’ livelihoods.

“The Government of Canada recognizes the invaluable contribution of Canadian creators to our economy and society and is committed to ensuring fair remuneration for artists,” said Minister Joly. “Through these consultations, we seek concrete improvements to the Copyright Board that enable creators to efficiently access new, diverse and stable streams of revenue. I invite anyone concerned with these issues to engage in this important consultation.”

The announcement has been applauded by several Canadian creative industry associations, including Focus On Creators supporting partners.

“Music Canada applauds Minister Bains and Minister Joly for beginning these consultations on Copyright Board reform,” said Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada. “The time is right to modernize the Board, which will better support music creators and advance Canada’s innovation agenda. A more efficient and predictable regulatory environment will help spur growth for Canada’s cultural industries and the creative class.”

“The operation and resulting decisions of the Board are crucial to the development and growth of the music publishing industry in Canada”, said Canadian Music Publishers Association Executive Director Margaret McGuffin. “The Canadian Music Publishers Association has long agreed with the need to make the Board’s tariff-setting process as efficient and effective as possible, especially at a time of profound change in the digital world.”

“CIMA is encouraged to see the government taking action,” stated the Canadian Independent Music Association in a release. “CIMA has advocated for the Copyright Board to become more nimble and anticipatory, and render decisions in a timely manner. We advocated for changes that would ensure that the Copyright Board of Canada be optimally configured and provided with adequate resources in order to render fair and equitable tariff decisions in a timely manner – a process that is more closely aligned with ever-evolving technology and the planning cycle of the Canadian music industry.”

“We fully agree with the need to improve the Copyright Board’s efficiency and transparency. We believe that this undertaking will benefit all of its stakeholders,” said SOCAN’s CEO, Eric Baptiste.

“Access Copyright has long supported the need to ensure that the Copyright Board’s tariff setting process operates in a timely and efficient manner,” said Roanie Levy, CEO & President of Access Copyright. “This consultation provides a welcome opportunity to pursue meaningful reform that will promote the expedient approval of certified tariffs and also encourage users to comply with those same tariffs.”

“Canada’s professional authors support any review of the Copyright Board that modernizes and makes more efficient the protection of creator rights in an innovative market,” said John Degen, Executive Director of The Writers’ Union of Canada. “We look forward to advancements in the enforceability of Board decisions, and we commend Ministers Joly and Bains for launching this process.”

The consultation will run until September 29th. To take part in the consultation, interested parties can share their views by emailing CBconsultations@canada.ca.