(CelebrityAccess News Service) — Canada's recording industry has denounced federal policy makers for not
ratifying international copyright treaties that would temper the illegal use of artistic works via the Internet. In an appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, Brian Robertson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association, complimented members of the committee for their recent call to action on the implementation of two World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties Canada signed in 1997. At the same time he expressed the music industry's frustration that in the six years since Canada agreed to the treaties, the federal government had failed to revise Canadian laws to reflect their important principles.
"I want to express appreciation to the Committee, particularly to Mr. Paul Bonwick, Member for Simcoe-Grey, for its recent action to motivate the government to move ahead, expeditiously with the ratification of the WIPO treaties," remarked Robertson.
Recently, the Committee approved a motion that called for draft legislation to bring Canada's copyright law in sync with Canada's international commitments. The WIPO treaties will make it easier for traditional copyrighted materials like music, literature, art, audiovisual materials and software to be used legally on the Internet. 42 other countries have introduced such laws.
"The resolve of this Committee contrasts with the abject failure of federal policy makers to take any action other than study and consultation," said Robertson. "Both the Ministers of Canadian Heritage and Industry have been sympathetic to the need for more speed. We think part of the problem is this shared jurisdiction for copyright between the two departments. While bureaucrats have dithered, the music industry has been hit by a dramatic downturn, fuelled in good part by individuals downloading music and illegally file-sharing it with others,"added Robertson."
"The music industry in Canada has been devastated by the widespread theft of its music. When you have lost $425 million in retail sales and suffered huge staff layoffs, there is obviously going to be a dramatic reduction in career opportunities for Canadian artists and the availability of new Canadian music," he said.
Canada's recording industry has several initiatives designed to meet the technological challenges posed by illegal downloading and file sharing: from the innovative Value of Music public awareness campaign aimed at the early teen demographic and direct messages to unauthorized file-sharing service users, to the creation of new legal online business models like www.puretracks.com.
"These programs have been financed entirely by the private sector. What we need now is the legal framework Ottawa agreed to six years ago, something the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage clearly understands," concluded Robertson. –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner