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Miranda Mulholland issues call to action at Banff World Media Festival

On June 11 at the Banff World Media Festival in Banff, Alberta, musician, label owner and music festival founder Miranda Mulholland presented a keynote address titled “Your content isn’t free – fixing the Value Gap.” Mulholland has become an internationally-recognized figure in artist rights advocacy, having just returned from Midem in Cannes, France, where she was the keynote speaker at an event presented jointly by Music Canada and the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers (IAEL). She also participated in panel discussion on North American copyright updates at Midem on June 7.

The Banff World Media Festival, now in its 39th year, brings together creators, producers, media moguls, and industry stakeholders to learn, build relationships, and tackle the biggest issues facing their industries. The festival features high profile speakers from media industries, pre-booked face-to-face meetings, and other networking and development opportunities.

In Mulholland’s keynote, she reflected on her path to speaking publicly on the challenges creators face and her experiences working with politicians and other decision makers. In her trademark style, she also issued a call to action, urging everyone, regardless of their position or affiliation, to take steps to help creators succeed in the digital marketplace. Many of these actions are detailed in an infographic available on Mulholland’s website.

Below are select passages from Mulholland’s keynote address.

All of us need to stay updated on all the ways artists can be compensated. This includes royalty opportunities, the differences between streaming platforms and how fans consume our art. Use your platform to advocate for change for creators. Create opportunities for others to speak – like this conference! and speak up yourself. This will help everyone, including you. We are all highly effective advocates. No one knows about our experiences as well as we do and sometimes making change is as easy as being very honest about how things really are.

 

The legal framework within which we are operating and trying to innovate was concocted in the 1990s. This is when I wore scrunchies. Governments haven’t meaningfully adapted their laws since then. I should have kept the scrunchie. The fashion has come back but the policies have left us far behind.

 

Minister Joly has herself concluded that “The benefits of the digital economy have not been shared equally. Too many creators, journalists, artists have been left behind, and there needs to be a better balance.” Imagine if the governments around the world had realized that in 2003? Where would we all be now? 

 

Much has changed since I first spoke to Minister Joly two years ago. I get the sense now that the Government is finally listening to us but we have to act with urgency. In Europe there is a very important vote going through in a few weeks – their stance on Safe Harbours could set a precedent for the rest of the world. If we, as creators, don’t speak up, pieces of important of legislation will be drafted without our consent.

 

None of us gave our informed consent about what was going to happen to our work, our businesses, our industries twenty years ago. We do however have the ability to inform policies moving forward.

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