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Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce releases report on the Copyright Board of Canada

At a press conference today in Ottawa, members from the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce (Deputy Chair Joseph A. Day and Douglas Black) announced the release of their report on the operations and practices of the Copyright Board of Canada. The report, which was officially tabled in the Senate on November 30, follows two days of hearings held by the Committee earlier in November. The Committee heard from representatives from the Board, stakeholders, academics and experts. Music Canada took part in the hearings, with President & CEO Graham Henderson appearing before the committee on November 2.

The report, titled Copyright Board: A Rationale for Urgent Review, is a timely and insightful assessment of the current tariff-setting process and its shortcomings. The Report correctly notes that the Committee’s witnesses agreed that the Board’s biggest challenges are delay and unpredictability, while also highlighting potential areas for improvement, such as the imposition of deadlines, case management, simplified/expedited procedures, full-time members, and the elimination of retroactive decisions.

The report states as follows:

“The Copyright Board of Canada plays a pivotal role in Canada’s cultural sector. Yet, from what the committee heard, the Board is dated, dysfunctional and in dire need of reform. Whether the reasons are statutory, structural or otherwise, the Board did not – or could not – provide the committee with solutions to the problems that were identified by witnesses. The concerns outlined in this report require further investigation and timely action.”

The report ultimately recommends that “the forthcoming five-year statutory review of the Copyright Act should include a thorough, in-depth examination of the Copyright Board of Canada’s mandate, practices and resources.”

Music Canada applauds the Committee’s leadership and recommendation for an urgent, in-depth review.

“I commend the Senate’s Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee for undertaking this important review. The common message at the hearings was that the Board has actually become a barrier to business,” says Graham Henderson, President & CEO of Music Canada. “The Board is inefficient and unpredictable, and decisions take too long. The Committee could not have been more damning in their indictment when they said that the ‘Board is dated, dysfunctional and in dire need of reform.’ The Committee’s work makes it very clear that the Copyright Board and its tariff-setting process need to be overhauled.”

Music Canada looks forward to working with the government on this issue as we approach the 2017 review of the Copyright Act. A more efficient and predictable tariff-setting process is something that all Board stakeholders can aspire to, and we welcome the Committee’s recognition of the urgency of this issue.

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