Graham of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) recently went to Washington to speak about Canadian copyright laws. He had one particular comment that is worth responding to.
The story comes from the Toronto Star which shows Graham Henderson saying:
“There is a certain set of bloggers out there who think music is nothing more than a hobby, that it should be free. But I think Canadians as a whole are more open to supporting their creative industry and so we’re finally at the point where Ottawa is going to act. I refuse to believe that this brand-new digital era is going to make beggars of creators and send them back to the 1800s.”
This particular comment made my blood boil. It’s as if there are a couple of bloggers who are saying this, but Canadians think otherwise and thinking along these lines is somehow old fashion.
I am a Canadian artist and I know for a fact that CRIA does not even come close to representing the interests of Canadian content creators. There is a good reason why the popular Canadian record labels left CRIA when the Liberals Bill C-60 came around. The attitudes expressed by CRIA makes me proud to not be associated with them because I do not believe that suing your own fan base is a step in the right direction nor do I believe disconnecting users, instituting internet wide filtering, or locking everything down in copy protection will even begin to help creators in such a fluid time.
Henderson characterized those who give away their music for free as beggars from the 1800s which is completely untrue and creeps close to the defamatory line. Artists who give away their music for free are not simply beggars, but rather, fueling their own independent business model. Should artists choose to actively act on that business model is exclusively up to them. As an example, Toby Emerson gave away his own music for free for quite some time. He posted his music on sites like MySpace and several other free music hosting sites. His audience grew and grew and soon, he was one of the more well liked Canadian artist online. After a while, he started selling his music while growing his fan base. Today, he is one of the most popular Canadian House producer getting spots on Above and Beyond’s popular internet radio station, “Trance Around the World”
Toby Emerson is far from alone. Hundreds of thousands of artists are doing the exact same thing every day online. Are they all multi-millionaires? Hardly. Are all artists under the big four record labels multi-millionaires? Definitely not. The difference here is that artists who post their own music online for free actually own the rights to their own music while artists who sign a record label contract with the big four record labels have absolutely no control of their own music and even face censorship from their own record labels (Just ask OK-GO when they tried to allow for embedding of their music video on blogs)
Mr. Henderson, you are correct that Canadians are willing to pay for peoples music, but you are dead wrong if you say that the changes you want in the current legislation on copyright reform, Bill C-32, is the answer Canadian creators across the country (not just those signed under Sony BMG) is looking for when it comes to suing music fans for millions of dollars. I also think that the current road Bill C-32 with regards to digital locks is completely unnecessary.
Don’t you even go there if you say that this is merely about people downloading big four record label music without authorization. I own the rights to my own original creations. What I do with my own music that I created is my own [expletive]ing business. Characterizing creators like me as 1800s style beggars is an insult to music creators across this country and I am personally offended by this blatant attack on creators.
If you even consider trying to attack my business model by legislative or other means, I say this to you: Your failed business model is not my problem. Canadians will never tolerate any attempt to censor creators. If we choose to distribute our own creations on BitTorrent, we have every right to do so. Shutting down sites like this is an attempt to censor artists like me because we have one less vehicle to distribute our creations to the masses while choosing not to use big four distribution channels.
Henderson insulting creators like this was completely uncalled for and I say that attacking things you don’t even have a clue about is not very wise.