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Canadian Music Publishers Poll The Political Parties

Canadian Music Publishers Association, CMPA
Canadian Music Publishers Association, CMPA

The Canadian Music Publishers Association recently took a poll of Canadian political parties. The survey published in the CMPA newsletter reveals that, for the most part, they are sympathetic to the cause of creators and ready to address copyright issues.

On the eve of the October 2015 Canadian election, a survey of the Canadian political parties reveals that for the most part there is a general consensus amongst the respondents on the need to support the music and arts community in this country. (Note that the Conservative Party was approached to participate but unable to respond at this time.)

In answering ten questions posed by the CMPA, there was agreement by the Green Party, Liberals and the NDP on the importance of the role culture plays in enhancing Canadian identity, values and culture. The Conference Board has estimated that culture drives more than $84 billion worth of economic benefits annually and provides employment to over one million Canadians.  

The parties also agreed on the necessity of speeding up Copyright Board decision-making, the continuing need for Canadian Content regulations and fair compensation for music used for commercial purposes. A more nuanced response was forthcoming from the three parties on the subject of the Canada Music Fund, FACTOR funding, copyright extension for authors and composers and funding commitments made by Canadian broadcasters as part of their license conditions.

Here are the questions along with the answers from the three political parties.  

1. Does your party believe that music is an essential part of expressing and enhancing Canadian identity, values, and culture?

GREEN PARTY - Absolutely. Our future and our sense of who we are as a nation depends on supporting Canadian talent by giving it the opportunity to develop and the forum to be heard. Support for arts and culture creates vibrant communities and generates economic growth. The Green Party understands that our national identity depends on policies that ensure a thriving, diverse, and socially responsible cultural community as part of an inclusive Canada. Music is part of any society's culture, and Canada is no different. This is one of the main reasons we want to not only reverse the cuts made by the Harper Conservatives to the CBC and Canada Council for the Arts, but also expand funding in a way no other party has promised. We understand there are problems with the CBC, but it is essential that a modern democracy is able to maintain its national broadcaster and provide Canadian artists with the means and space to be heard. Without a national broadcaster we lose an important part of what it is to be Canadian because we no longer have a space that is made for Canadians. The CBC needs to be reformed, not destroyed.

Beyond just the CBC, which is an issue close to my heart, I believe that we must provide a stable source of funding incentives for artists and art-based organizations to develop and perfect their craft. Art, and especially music, is an integral part of developing a national sense of self; we need to ensure that graduates of the creative arts do not have barriers to developing their passion. The Green Party will explore the idea of a specific tax status for professional artists to provide more equitable tax treatment for independent contractors through such tools as income averaging and exemption of grants from federal taxation.  As a part of a Green Party caucus, and as an artist myself, I will help to ensure Canadians have the proper resources to make an impact on our shared culture and heritage and have means to express their identity and values for other to appreciate.

We must also reverse the Harper Conservative's funding cuts to the promotion of Canadian art abroad, including the inexpensive, yet immensely effective, embassy art program.  The Green Party believes that this can best be done by taking a holistic look at our programs, funding, legislation, and regulation to explore how we can best maintain and grow a strong environment for art in Canada.

LIBERAL - Yes, The Liberal Party of Canada believes that music is an essential part of expressing and enhancing Canadian national identity, values, and culture, in addition to being a vibrant part of our economy.

Our artists, producers, composers, and technicians are world leaders in their fields and undeniable Canadian assets. The Conference Board estimates that culture drives more than $84 billion worth of economic benefits each year and provides employment to over one million Canadians. The artists, including musicians, that contribute to Canada's vibrant arts and culture sphere create a shared space where we can collectively celebrate what it means to be Canadian, highlighting and sharing our geographic and cultural differences, and reinforcing what binds us together.

NDP - Yes, music plays an important role in enhancing our identity, values and culture. The NDP has always been a key supporter of the arts and culture sector, including musicians and the music industry.

2. Does your party believe Canada needs to speed up the decision-making process at the Copyright Board?

GREEN PARTY - In reading a recent report by Music Canada it would appear the decision-making process of the Copyright Board lacks deadlines and any procedural certainty for those who are anxiously waiting for decisions. The Green Party does not have an official policy position on this issue but believes it does not serve any group to not know what they can expect from a regulatory body. It also seems it would be wise to align the Canadian Copyright Board with other similar boards around the world. As well, it would appear that uncontested tariffs could be approved with very little need for delay. The Green Party would be willing to work with Music Canada and other user groups of the Copyright Board to find a way to make the process more efficient.

LIBERAL - A Liberal government will take a leadership role and initiate preliminary consultations for this review without delay, with all parties involved, in a completely open and transparent manner. The current 2-3 year wait time for decisions to be rendered is unacceptable and has negatively impacted too many Canadians' livelihoods. The Liberal caucus has previously fought for these changes, highlighting the need for the federal government to undertake consultations with the Copyright Board as soon as possible to determine the reasons for the delays in rendering decisions - notably in the digital context - and establish, in consultation with the Commission, a level of funding that is adequate for the timely delivery of its mandate.

A Liberal government will act in the interests of Canadians. We will ensure that the federal government fulfills its obligations and does not create the circumstances for Canadians' success to be stalled by excessive red tape.

NDP - Yes, we are concerned with the delay the Copyright Board is taking in processing cases. As things are rapidly moving in the digital world, we believe rights holders and the public are both losing in this situation. We are committed to working with the Board to review priorities and efficiency.

3. Does your party support maintaining broadly current Canadian content regulations?

GREEN PARTY - The Green Party wishes to ensure that current content regulations are at least maintained. We also want to go further than the other parties and enact legislation that mandates 20 per cent of content in cinemas and video chains must be Canadian.

The recent CRTC amendments to the Canadian content regulations are of concern. Canadian content quotas for daytime TV were dropped from 55 per cent to zero while leaving the 6 - 11 pm high viewership window and overall CanCon spending requirements unchanged. The government needs to work both to modernize existing structures, such as copyright and Canadian content quotas, and to look at new ways to help Canadian artists succeed.

Canada has one of the most concentrated media markets in the world. We must take action so that Canadians and the Canadian national interest will benefit from more competition while ensuring Canada's content regulations provide an acceptable level of support for Canadian programming.

LIBERAL - The Liberal Party of Canada supports the current Canadian content and local programming obligations of Canadian broadcasters and given significant changes in the industry, we recognize the need to modernize the Broadcasting Act. Liberals support Canadian artists and we believe Canadian content rules are an essential tool to help Canadian artists succeed.

NDP - The NDP will be a champion for Canadian content on TV and Radio so Canadians continue to enjoy local, diverse and high quality content produced here in Canada. We believe that regulations are necessary to achieve the objectives anchored in the Broadcasting Act.

4. Is your party committed to maintaining copyright protection for commercial uses of music and protecting creator's and rights holders' right to be compensated for such uses?

GREEN PARTY - Yes. We need to protect the copyright for artists particularly in the process of their work being used for commercial purposes. For example, we would ensure that copyright for artists is maintained and not surrendered to museums and art galleries in the process of permitting exhibits. We would protect the same rights for music artists.

LIBERAL - (This answer covers both question 4 and 5) The Liberal Party of Canada believes Canada should implement fair and balanced copyright modernization laws that ensure content creators are fairly compensated for their work, while also protecting consumer rights. The lack of consideration of the views of artists was one of the many concerns we had with how the Conservative government drafted and implemented the Copyright Modernization Act. A review of the Broadcasting Act and the Copyright Act is in order, and a Liberal government will take a leadership role by initiating open and transparent preliminary consultations with all parties involved for this review without delay. We will also evaluate the level of resources required for the Copyright Board to deliver on its mandate in a timely fashion.

NDP - Yes, the NDP does not foresee changes in that regard.

5. Is your party committed to ensuring fair compensation in the evolving digital world for content producers and creators?

GREEN PARTY - Yes, The Green Party will support independent and non-profit stations, promote Canadian content, restore the independence of arts and cultural institutions and agencies under federal jurisdiction, and increase support for arts grants, programs, and facilities. We must also take care to guard our cultural sovereignty in trade negotiations, especially in light of the recent proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership which threatens Canadian grown content. A bold vision for a new century of Canadian culture is long overdue. We must act now to protect our heritage and promote Canadian art. This means we must have a strategy to ensure being a Canadian artist is profitable, because arts and culture are an important contributor to the Canadian economy; artists must be compensated in a way the properly reflects this reality.

LIBERAL - (Response incorporated in previous answer 4)

NDP - Yes, the NDP believes creators have a right to fair compensation in the digital world. In this new and evolving environment, we need to find new business models to ensure creators can make a living.

6. Is your party committed to renewing the Canada Music Fund, at least at its current level, when the current three-year funding commitment expires?

GREEN PARTY - Yes, Harper has not spent enough attention on Canadian grown art, and in fact has slashed funding for many initiatives and programs. A Green caucus would ensure that Canadian artists are getting the funding they need through programs that are valued and supported by artists themselves.

LIBERAL - (This answer covers questions 6, 7 and 8) A new Liberal government will reinvest in our cultural and creative industries, to create jobs, grow the economy and the middle class, and strengthen our rich Canadian identity. Among other investments, we will double investment in the Canada Council for the Arts to $360 million per year from $180 million. This funding will enhance the Council's ability to provide grants and services to Canadian artists, including musicians. Such investment will create new jobs in our cultural and creative industries, enable greater artistic activity across the country, enhance the quality of life in our communities, and ensure that artistic creation remains an important part of our economy in the years ahead.

NDP - Yes, the NDP is committed to renew the Canada Music Fund and will not reduce its funding.

7. Is your party committed to reviewing the Canada Music Fund to reflect a more equitable investment of funds to reflect shifts in the balance between creators, artists and record labels?

GREEN PARTY - Yes, the Green Party is committed to reviewing the Canada Music Fund to ensure that funds are invested equally between creators, artists and record labels. Given the rapidly changing nature of the music industry it is important that the balance between the different areas be examined to be sure they are in keeping with the greatest needs of the industry.

LIBERAL - (Response incorporated in previous answer 6)

NDP - As we move towards renewing the Canadian Music Fund, the NDP is committed to working with all industry players to ensure the parameters take into account the evolving changes in the industry.

8. Is your party committed to reviewing the funding of FACTOR to ensure the investment of funds reflects shifts in how content is created and distributed?

GREEN PARTY - Yes, we need to bring our media distribution into the 21st century and our publicly funded programs must reflect this. The Green Party is committed to ensuring Canadian artists are supported in the most effective way both at home and abroad. This means taking a serious look at how the CBC distributes its content, as well as ensuring Canadian programs are at the cutting edge of digital distribution strategies in the world. Canadian content and artists are some of the best in the world, and we need to be able to reflect this in the way we distribute our message and culture throughout the world. We will consult with Canadian artists and the organizations that represent them in order to arrive at solutions that work not only for the artists, but also distributors, producers, and all Canadians.

LIBERAL - (Response incorporated in previous answer 6)

NDP - As we move towards renewing the Canadian Music Fund, the NDP is committed to working with all industry players to ensure the parameters take into account the evolving changes in the industry.

9. Is your party committed to extending protection for compositions and songs from life of the composer plus 50 years to life plus 70 years, in line with international standards?

GREEN PARTY - Yes, Harper has allowed Canada to fall behind international standards in many industries and we must work to catch up to ensure that we are remaining competitive on the world stage. The Green party will certainly work to ensure that we are maintaining, if not exceeding international standards.

LIBERAL - Liberals recognize that the extension of copyright for sound recordings have overall support within the Canadian music industry which sees this extension as better protection for Canadian craft, putting Canada on par with the general international standard. We also recognize the benefits for keeping control and revenue in the hands of the artists and labels in Canada. A Liberal government will work with stakeholders such as the Canadian Music Publishers Association to examine a similar extension for authors and composers. Unlike the Conservative party who introduced omnibus legislation to make these changes, a Liberal government will ensure that fundamental changes to the Copyright Act receive robust debate in Parliament.

NDP - The NDP welcomed the government changes in Budget 2015 to extend the term of copyright for performers. We understand there is now discrepancy between performers and songwriters. The NDP is committed to review the Copyright Act in 2017 as the Act requires. We would request proposals for legislative changes in our first year of mandate. This is among the changes we would like to study.

10. Is your party committed to ensuring that funding commitments made by Canadian broadcasters as part of their license conditions are maintained?

GREEN PARTY - Yes, we must ensure that the regulations set by the Canadian government are respected and maintained as a requirement before we release more funding or renew their license.

LIBERAL - We are committed to using the best available evidence to develop policies that will better support all sectors of the Canadian economy, including arts and culture. A Liberal government will also work in partnership with the arts and culture sector to explore more effective and innovative ways of funding for the important work you do. Our party understands that we must find more effective funding delivery mechanisms to support the arts and culture sector to achieve accountability while at the same time ensuring access to adequate, predictable, and stable funding.

— About the CMPA

Since 1949 the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) has ensured the views of music publishers working in Canada and its members are heard. It is our mission to promote the interests of music publishers and their songwriting partners through advocacy, communication, and education.

CMPA advocates for publishers on:

Copyright reforms for a digital world, including recognition of the responsibilities of new delivery systems
Canadian content policies for broadcasters and new music delivery systems
Public investment in songwriting and music publishing, similar to the investments made in the music recording industry and the film and television sectors
Protector of the private copying tariff

As the oldest music industry association in Canada, CMPA is committed to educating and acting as a mentor body for the next generation of music publishers and young songwriters. Our vision is to make Canada the best environment in the world for music publishers and their songwriting partners.

In 1975, CMPA founded The Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) to handle music licensing in Canada. Through the initiatives of CMRRA, CMPA has essentially created the publishing infrastructure in Canada. Together, we have been able to increase the licensing rate from just 2 cents per song to 8.3 cents; while working to ensure that music publishing will be both a viable and sustainable industry for years to come.
“The song’s the thing. You can have the biggest and most expensive studio, the best sounding musicians and experienced engineers and technicians; if you don’t have the song, the artist cannot be expected to have a hit.” — Chet Atkins

Canada needs the CMPA to ensure that the value and contribution of music publishers, music publishing and copyright management is understood by artists, the music industry, users of copyrights, and the general public. Music publishers make up the cornerstone of the music industry and CMPA works to ensure that those working in music publishing are never without a collective voice within the business of Canadian music.