Major publishers screw Canadian songwriters to fight the public domain

As you probably know, our frosty neighbor to the North is considering a bill that would extend the copyright of sound recordings. The always-excellent Michael Geist has been covering the topic extensively.

It should be noted that the copyright extension was inserted into the general budget with absolutely no public input or debate. (In this, it resembles the language that then-staff-attorney Mitch Glazier snuck into a 1999 U.S. bill, that would steal the copyrights of all musical recording artists. Yes: the Mitch Glazier that is currently Senior Executive Vice President of the RIAA.)

It should also be noted that nobody gave any indication that it was an issue. As Geist explains in his article The Great Canadian Copyright Giveaway:

Term extension for sound recordings and performances was nowhere to be found among the thousands of submissions to the 2010 copyright consultation, it was not discussed in the 2002 Canadian roadmap for copyright reform, and groups like the Canadian Independent Record Production Association and the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada did not raise it in their submissions on copyright reform. The music industry’s form letter did not discuss term extension and it was not an issue that was prominently raised in the 2012 copyright reforms. In fact, just last year the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage conducted a major review of the music industry in Canada with dozens of witnesses taking the time to appear or submit briefs. The final report and the government’s response never raise the term of protection for sound recordings and performances as a concern.

Geist goes into great detail about how this was almost entirely due to back-room lobbying by Music Canada (the Canadian version of the RIAA).

Unfortunately, for those who keep track of copyright policy, none of the above is either shocking or unusual. What is, however, is the story that major publishers have blocked competitors from pressing public domain sound recordings – and screwed over songwriters to do so.

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