My name is Luc Fortin and I am the president of the Guilde des musiciens et des musiciennes du Québec. I am joined by Éric Lefebvre, the secretary-treasurer of our association.
We are pleased to appear before you this morning to share our comments on the remuneration models for the work of the musicians we are representing.
First and foremost, it's important to say a few words about our association.
The Guilde des musiciens et des musiciennes du Québec is an artists' association that brings together instrumentalists, conductors and musicians who perform certain related functions. It is affiliated with the American Federation of Musicians, as Local 406, and has over 3,200 members. Our association is also affiliated with the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec.
Finally, the Guilde is legally recognized under federal and Quebec legislation on the status of the artist to represent all professional musicians in Quebec, while acting collectively on behalf of musicians, when it considers that their interests are affected.
We understand that the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage must look at the remuneration models for artists in the context of copyright. It is important to note that the designation of the performers' performances as a copyright category is relatively new. Actually, since September 1, 1997, the Copyright Act provides for certain rights that performers can exercise over their performances. Those rights were improved in November 2012, when new exclusive sound recording rights were introduced.
To that end, we know that the Copyright Act provides for two categories of rights for performers. First, there are the so-called exclusive rights, which mainly deal with the fixation, reproduction, distribution and the making available of the artist's performance in certain situations. Second, there are two rights to remuneration, one for the public communication of marketed sound recordings, also known as equitable remuneration, managed by the music licensing company Re:Sound, and the other for private copying, managed by the Canadian Private Copying Collective.
Of all those rights, the equitable remuneration is still now the most significant, having given rise to several Re:Sound tariffs certified by the Copyright Board of Canada.
It should be noted that, in addition to the royalties paid by collective societies, the Guilde negotiates remuneration for the use of musicians' recorded performances under its collective agreements, mainly in audiovisual productions, with producers and broadcasters such as Radio-Canada or Télé-Québec.
The royalties for performers under collective agreements have been negotiated for several decades. The 1997 and 2012 amendments to the Copyright Act changed part of the legal framework, but our concerns have not subsided.
What are the concerns? It's simple: musicians are getting poorer every year. We see that the new rights granted to performers do not improve their remuneration. Either the structural changes of the music industry initiated by Google, Amazon, and Facebook, among others, are ensuring that the middle class of musicians has now become a class of poor artists, leaving a few ultra-rich artists and producers with 95% of the revenues generated by the industry, or the new rights that benefit performers still have no impact because of legislative provisions or regulations being passed that have the opposite effect.
As an example, what is the use of the right to remuneration for private copying of sound recordings if the plan applies only to blank CDs, which no one uses for reproduction any more?
The Supreme Court has already indicated that the legislation is technologically neutral. Why is there a double standard when it comes to regulatory amendments to benefit artists and creators? It is important to ensure that all reproduction media, such as SIM cards, USB sticks or hard drives, are covered.
Similarly, in 2012, new exclusive making available and distribution rights for performers were introduced to enable the enforcement of the rights on the Internet and on existing media, such as CDs. One wonders what those rights are for, if the money from streaming remains at subsistence level and the responsibility of Internet service providers is still not recognized because of their intermediary status.
Finally, what is the point of the new exclusive distribution rights if the main source of music listening is now streaming, as confirmed by the survey on online consumption of copyrighted content, commissioned by the Canadian government in 2017? In fact, in the three months leading up to the November 2017 survey, 11.2 million Internet users streamed music online. Clearly, this reality has an impact on the sale of sound recordings, both in the form of CDs and online downloads. It is important to obtain compensation from Internet service providers, which are taking unfair advantage of the situation.
Furthermore, when collective agreements are negotiated, we are affected by the web giants, who now dictate the rules. Take, for example, a television program: broadcasters now impose additional unpaid uses on producers because of the decline in revenue associated with online services. In turn, producers demand unpaid uses from artists because of pressure from broadcasters. As a result, artists' earnings decline.
We can look at the various remuneration models based on a number of parameters—we would be pleased to share them with you—either because they were presented to the Copyright Board of Canada or because collective agreements already incorporate certain models. For us, the best applicable model is based on copyright law drafted simply to be effective and to allow rights holders to obtain reasonable remuneration for the use of their works and performances.
Mechanisms must also be put in place to rebalance the forces at play, while no longer using legislation to weaken the rights of rights holders through case law that puts the rights of users and creators on equal footing, as in the case of literary works, or that allows an industry to continue to decline, as in the case of music.
We recommend three possible solutions: amend the Copyright Act so that private copying levy applies to all media used to reproduce a recording; amend the Copyright Act so that the private copying levy applies to all reproduction devices and sound recordings; and finally, make Internet service providers liable by eliminating the exemption they enjoy under section 31.1 of the Copyright Act.
In fact, this has become complicated because of the amendments made to the legislation over the past several years, diluting the effectiveness of those rights. Too many exceptions are now in effect.
We are now ready to answer any questions you may have.