Thanks very much, and thank you for having the Canadian Federation of Musicians.
I am Bill Skolnik, and I am a musician. I've worked in theatre, television, and radio in different studios for a long time. I did a lot of writing for Sesame Street, so I may have affected some of you sitting here. I am now the chief executive officer of the Canadian Federation of Musicians.
Joining me today is Warren Sheffer, who is our counsel and a lawyer with Hebb & Sheffer.
CFM has represented musicians in Canada for more than 100 years, and many of our 17,000 members are international stars and household names, but the majority are not. I got elected to serve the 17,000 folks in the organization, but there are also a number of non-members, according to the Canadian Artists and Producers Professional Relations Tribunal, CAPPRT, which I speak for on federal matters. So I'm not just speaking on behalf of the folks who pay my salary; I'm speaking on behalf of anybody who picks up an instrument and gets paid for it.
Musicians are self-employed business owners and often earn less than $20,000 a year. While they make some of their wages from performing and hitting the road, a significant portion of their income comes from recordings and the rights to past performances and work. You may not realize it, but when you go to the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, the National Arts Centre, or Centre In The Square, those players you see accompanying featured performers are not with those featured performers from city to city. They are hired by a music director, and they operate as independent business people.
Some of you may know these folks. I know most of them, and I'm going to give you names of some from smaller places so you can acquaint yourselves with them. From Sudbury, we have Christian Robertson, Victor Sawa, and Yoko Hirota. The three Gray boys, John, Charlie, and Phil, are originally from Truro and now live in Toronto. I think John lives in Vancouver. He wrote Billy Bishop Goes to War. They're from a small town in Nova Scotia. From Kitchener, there is Frank Leahy, a well-known player, and Wendell Ferguson, one of the funniest guys in Canada. I also want to mention Doug Perry and Paul Mitchell. From Peterborough, we have the Cherney brothers, who don't live in Peterborough anymore, but their father was a well-known appliance dealer, Washboard Hank. If anybody has ever seen Washboard Hank play, you know who I mean. These are our members. These are the people I'm talking about.
The Leahy family is well known, from Lakefield. Frank DeFelice, Garry Munn, and Rusty James are from Brantford. You may know these folks. From Sackville, there is Ray Legere. I'm just giving you these names because these are people who bought houses, raised their children. They don't necessarily live in the big cities—some of them do—but most are from the small towns. This is who I'm talking about. These are the small business people I'm referring to.
Musicians can only make a living if there are robust copyright laws that allow them to negotiate and exploit their rights in the marketplace through collective bargaining and collective licensing. Diminished rights mean diminished income.
We support the government's effort to modernize the Copyright Act by implementing provisions of the WIPO Internet Treaties. In particular, we welcome the establishment of moral rights for performers. That's really vital to us.
We acknowledge the government's desire to address the fact that people are enjoying music in a digital format anywhere and anytime; however, just because digital technology has made it easy for works to be reproduced, it doesn't mean that it should be free. Technological advancements cannot be a rationale for depriving creators and performers of their right to be rewarded for the reproduction and use of their work.
Music has value. This work is the product of creative labour and it still has value. Unfortunately, in too many places this bill removes the value.
The Canadian Conference of the Arts has put together a package of 20 technical amendments to Bill C-11. CFM is one of the 68 cultural organizations that helped put those together, and we fully endorse each of those amendments. I want to stress how remarkable an achievement it is to get these diverse organizations to agree on this package.
Today I want to speak specifically to four amendments that would go a long way towards protecting the intellectual property and income of musicians.
Number one, put a fence around the widespread exceptions to copyrights and neighbouring rights introduced in the bill by including explicit language from the Berne three-step test.
The Berne three-step test, as found in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS, to which Canada adheres, provides that:
Members shall confine limitations and exceptions to exclusive rights to certain special cases which do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights-holder.
We want users to be able to access and enjoy our members' work, whether for personal enjoyment or education, but not at the expense of the musicians who seek to make a living from the use of their works and performances. Make this provision explicitly in the act and it will get the government and the courts on the same page.
Second is user-generated content. This is an example of where the three-step test would be helpful by putting fences around exemptions. The UGC or mashup provision is a remarkable departure from the objective of the Copyright Act to confer exclusive rights on creators and performers. We understand what the intent is here: to allow families to post videos of their kids dancing to pop music without breaking the law. That's reasonable, but the wording in the bill goes too far for us. It would remove the ability of creators to license or have any say in what happens to their work. YouTube is the big winner here, at the expense of creators.
We recommend the exception be removed altogether, or at a minimum amend it so that moral rights are properly protected. We need to leave the door open for collectors to enter into agreements with businesses like YouTube so that performers can get paid, as is the case in other countries.
I can tell you from my perspective that a lot of our members are as much concerned about control of what their works are as they are about the payment. Both are important, but control is a big aspect with respect to moral rights. They need to have some teeth behind those.
Third is statutory damages. Bill C-11 proposes to drastically reduce statutory damages for infringement, that is for non-commercial purposes, to between $100 and $5,000. This is not an adequate deterrent. We also see no need to make a new distinction between commercial and non-commercial infringement. Such a distinction conveys the wrong message that so-called non-commercial infringement is not at all harmful to creators and performers. For example, I can take a CD, make 100 copies of it, and give it to everyone I know for Christmas. I'm not making money off it, but that's potentially 100 copies of the CD the artists aren't going to sell.
It only makes it harder and less worthwhile for small business people with limited resources to pursue damages for infringement. We understand what the government intends with this change, but it's not necessary. We have seen no cases in Canada where individuals have been forced to pay exorbitant awards for copyright infringement.
Even more puzzling is the bill's proposal to exempt those who enable acts of copyright infringement on the Internet from statutory damages. Statutory damage awards must be a proportionate deterrent and must be applicable to mass infringers like peer-to-peer sites that makes tons of money off the backs of hard-working artists.
Fourth, and finally, is private copying. CFM members earned more than $4 million from private copying in the past 10 years. Unfortunately, Bill C-11 will allow that critical source of income to dry up by not extending the private copying regime to new technologies. The revenue stream needs to be replaced—and I emphasize replaced—to recognize that long-standing principle that copies have value, and that exclusive rights-holders are to be compensated when copies are made.
The first choice is to make the bill technology neutral by extending the current private copying regime to digital audio recorders that are designed, manufactured, and advertised for the purpose of copying music. But if the government chooses not to take that route, part 8 of the Copyright Act should be supplemented by another restitutive mechanism. What I'm saying here is that there is a principle involved that's already been established: that copies have value and that people seem to have a right to make some money from that.
We're not intending to say extend the technology if that's not palatable. We believe there are other methods. We have examples of other methods of getting remuneration to artists for the extended use of their copies, the storage, and the duplication. So it's the principle that we're arguing and the ability to keep that principle going and keep money going. You know, a musician would get statements. As I say, they're business people, and they can't go into the bank and say, “Well, I have six, seven months of contracts coming up, I've got tours coming up.” They say, “What if you get hit by a car? What if that happens?”
But they can go with those statements that they get from Re:Sound and Canadian Private Copying and they can go with other things that show their income and regardless of what happens to them get money. And they don't need much. The average guy maybe gets $2,000 or $3,000 from private copying in a year, but that can get him studio time, it can get him sidemen to play with. This is an important aspect of their income. It's been there for—what?—20 years, and it's now being removed. It's being removed because of technology, not because anybody here believes they shouldn't get it.