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Copyright? Broadcasters do plenty already
3/25/2004
by Glenn O'Farrell

 
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Canadian Association of Broadcasters
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Association News
Intellectual property and copyright
WHEN WE TALK ABOUT COPYRIGHT � we must all be clear on what the current regime in Canada can and should do � and what it is not designed to do.

Copyright legislation is critically important as it sets the rules for how rights in intangible creative works can be bought and sold, often in a competitive marketplace. Broadcasters are committed to paying their fair share of royalties. In fact, we go farther than that.

But today, private radio broadcasters are forced to ask whether the huge and growing copyright tariff burden they are coping with is, in reality, a ham-fisted attempt at cultural subsidy.

Now, the beneficiaries of copyright protection are both Canadian and foreign, and in fact, Canada has long been a major importer of copyright products. Nearly one third of all copyright royalties collected by SOCAN in Canada goes out of the country, into foreign hands. Therefore, we must be clear that copyright is not a tool that can or should be used as a cultural subsidy for Canadian creators.

Since the copyright reforms of 1997, radio broadcasters have seen the one tariff they paid for the use of music, mushroom into three different tariffs. The total payment made by the industry went from 3.2% of revenues to over 5%. If the three collectives get what they are asking for from the Copyright Board, the total payment by radio broadcasters would rise to over 12% by 2007.

Needless to say, the CAB will be vigorously contesting these proposed increases.

We have to wonder if all these increased tariff payments are actually helping to build a strong domestic music industry star system. I don't think that case can be made. There are better ways.

Private broadcasters are already doing their part - through valuable airplay that promotes Canadian artists, through their contributions to Canadian Talent Development and through the establishment of funds such as the Radio Starmaker Fund and its French-language equivalent, le Fonds RadioStar.

Our contributions to content development - including FACTOR and MUSICACTION and other similar initiatives amount to about $3 million a year. But, the Copyright Board does not acknowledge broadcasters' contributions in this area in their tariff-setting function.

It's time the Copyright Board recognized these contributions.

And not just the Copyright Board. We must also ensure in the next round of copyright reform that the CRTC and the Copyright Board take into account the impact of each other's decisions on our industry. This is a matter of sensitizing the CRTC, the Copyright Board, policy makers and politicians.

Public policy makers also have a role and an obligation to do more to target the development of Canadian musical artists - to work with us to build the Canadian stars of the future through targeted domestic programs.

When I look at the achievements of the Canadian broadcasting system - in radio and in television, in conventional as well as specialty and pay services - I have to say I never cease to be amazed at the enormity of the achievements of all the players in the system.

This did not happen by accident. This did not happen because people got into this business to make a fast buck. This happened because the players in the Canadian broadcasting system put Canadians first.

And along with the players in the system, putting Canadians first has been the guiding spirit of the political leaders, policy makers and regulators whose creative collaboration with industry has helped us achieve this impressive record of success.

Together, we have laid a foundation that will ensure - from a cultural perspective - that Canada continues to have an important place in the world in the twenty-first century. Canada will continue to prosper - not in spite of - but because of the new technologies and international agreements that bring barriers down.

But we will continue to have a strong cultural identity as a nation only as long as we are able to control our own environment to ensure a level playing field, and to keep putting Canadians first.

Today, Glenn O'Farrell, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, addressed the Broadcast Executive Society (BES) and spoke about the need to put Canadians first through action on an international cultural instrument: measures to protect the integrity of the broadcasting system and balanced copyright legislation. The above text is an excerpt from his speech.
 
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