Canada's New Copyright Bill A Blow to Artists

[Retransmission of AFM & Actra Press release]

“Half the Bill is missing”

Toronto – Canadian performers are relieved to see the government finally take steps to bring Canada’s copyright laws into the 21st Century but are alarmed that artists are being left out.  

Canada’s new copyright bill, introduced today by Ministers Clement and Moore, is intended to make Canada compliant with the 1997 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Internet Treaties.

“We’re happy to see that after 13 years of embarrassment on the world stage we’re finally catching up to international norms by becoming WIPO compliant,” said Stephen Waddell, ACTRA’s National Executive Director. “But overall this bill is a real blow to artists.”

ACTRA and AFM Canada have been calling for a made-in-Canada bill that balances the ability of Canadians to enjoy creative content wherever and whenever they want while making sure creators are compensated.  However, the new bill leaves creators out in the cold by legalizing format shifting and private copying without building on existing royalty systems so that income flows to artists.  

“I welcome any changes to Canada's laws that make it easier for people to access and enjoy my work when and where they want while at the same time allowing artists to make a living,” said the Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn.

“How is it ‘balanced’ to allow people to make copies of our work without giving us anything in return? Half the bill is missing, the half that respects and pays creators,” said Ferne Downey, ACTRA National President.  “The simple step of extending the private copying levy to digital devices is a win-win solution for consumers and artists, it seems like it would have been a no-brainer.”

“How does the government think artists are going to be able to make a living under this scheme?” asked Bill Skolnik, Vice President, AFM Canada. “Every creator in this country should be demanding an answer from Ministers Clement and Moore.”

Both organizations look forward to working with the government and opposition parties over the next few weeks to bring more balance to the bill and ensure artists aren’t ignored.

ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) is the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 21,000 members across Canada. As a member of the Re: Sound Music Licensing Company ACTRA RACS (Recording Artists’ Collecting Society) is one of the organizations responsible for distribution of royalties collected on all tariffs related to sound recordings under Canada’s Copyright Act.

AFM Canada is the leading professional organization of its kind available to Canadian musicians. Everyday, AFM Canada helps thousands of musicians with any number of issues related to the recording and performing of their craft.  Operating in both official languages, the organization draws on the experience and strength of more than 90,000 musicians, with over 17,000 active members in Canada alone. Proudly celebrating 31 remarkable years of service, AFM Canada is uniquely positioned to address Canadian issues, and provides vital resources for Canadian musicians, at any stage in their careers.

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For more information: Carol Taverner, ACTRA : 416-644-1519 / 416-768-3336 / ctaverner@actra.ca