Feds must take action in 2024 budget to help Canadian music creators now


Copyright Act updates will create a more equitable and fair copyright regime in Canada.

What the music industry is experiencing with artificial intelligence is yet another disruptive technological shift affecting the daily lives of Canadian music creators.

While the ever-changing conversation on AI is important, we cannot lose sight of the needed amendments to the Copyright Act that can be enacted immediately, which are market based and require no additional funding from government. These overdue updates to the Act will not only allow for a more technologically neutral copyright regime, but will also level the playing field for thousands of Canadian creators now and into the future.

Budget 2024 is the next opportunity for our Canadian government to create a more equitable and fair Copyright Act to safeguard the livelihoods of Canadian music creators.

Music creators are pressing the Government of Canada to update the Copyright Act now to:

1. Amend the definition of “sound recording” in the Copyright Act to address its unfair exclusion of performers and record labels/makers from performance royalties from television, film, video-streaming platforms, and other audio-visual content.

Currently, Canadian performers and record labels don’t get paid performance royalties when their sound recording is used in a television show, movie, video-streaming platform, or other audio-visual content. By amending the definition of sound recording, Canadian music creators will be fairly and equitably compensated when a sound recording is performed in movies, television, and other audio-visual content.

2. Eliminate the “temporary” $1.25-million exemption for commercial radio stations instituted in 1997—a subsidy for commercial radio at the direct expense of music rights holders.

A special and transitional $1.25-million exemption was created in 1997 to provide temporary relief for commercial radio. Twenty-five years later, this subsidy still exists, despite radio industry consolidations and extraordinary profits over this time. This loophole continues to be exploited at the expense of music creators.

The unfair exemption must be removed from the Canadian Copyright Act so radio stations can fairly compensate Canadian performers and makers for their work.

3. Update the private copying regime to make it technologically neutral.

The Copyright Act has not been updated to consider how Canadians listen to and copy music today. Despite the prevalence of streaming, there are almost six billion tracks of music currently stored on Canadians’ phones and tablets. Re:Sound continues to support the Canadian Private Copying Collective’s efforts to seek a technologically neutral private copying regime that ensures rights-holders are paid for copies of their work.

All three amendments are market-based solutions that will greatly improve the lives of Canadian music creators and require no additional funding from taxpayers. Canada has already fallen behind more than 40 countries that have these rights entrenched for their creators. We must remain competitive and enact these amendments to ensure that our music creators are on an equal playing field at home and abroad.

With these amendments, we can provide a solid foundation for future legislation that will keep Canada’s music industry sustainable and thriving for generations to come.

Lou Raganin is the CEO and president of Re:Sound, and Florence Khoriaty is a Canadian recording artist and Re:Sound board member.

View this article at the Hill Times here.