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What was said: Senators Call for Urgent Review of Canada’s Copyright Board

Today at a press conference 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 press conference was live-streamed on Periscope, and an archive of the video is embedded below.

A selection of quotes from the event are included below.

Senator Joseph A. Day:
“Simply put: uncertain royalties mean uncertain paychecks. In our investigation, we found the Copyright Board to be slow and its practice very dated.
As the committee reviewed the Board, the most common comment from witnesses, and we heard from several witnesses, was that the board lacks timely decision making when it comes to establishing royalties. These tariffs are the bread and butter of Canadian artists who work in this community’s cultural sector, because they determine how much money businesses must pay in order to use the copyrighted material of the artist.”

“After reviewing the Board’s operations and practices, our committee’s sole recommendation is to call for a thorough, in-depth examination of the Copyright Board of Canada’s mandate, practice, and resources.  And examination of the Copyright Board of Canada’s mandate, practice, and resources should take place next year as part as the statutory, mandated review of the Copyright Act, the law that governs the Board. The Act is scheduled to have its statutory, five-year review of the Board next year, 2017, which is coming real fast. That is the opportune time not only to review the Act, but to delve deeper into the problems of the board.”

“So today, we are raising awareness about what we found when we talked to people who are intimately familiar with the Board’s work, and who are directly affected by that work of the Board. The one inescapable conclusion that the Copyright Board is not serving the Canadian copyright sector to the best of its ability, nor is it helping Canadian business.”


Senator Doug Black:
“As we all can agree in this room, and those who are listening, the cultural industries in Canada are a key component, not only to quality of life, but also to economics. And it is part of our review to ensure that impediments to the economics of Canada are dealt with.
And as Senator Day has so clearly identified, it was our observation that the Copyright Board, despite its best intentions, there is no maleficence here at all, but despite best intentions, the Board is not only not assisting the cultural industries, it is a block to the cultural industries. And we are recommending, as Senator Day indicates, that this needs to have a thorough examination.
We viewed ourselves like a G.P. – the patient came in, we analyzed the patient, and we said ‘my Goodness me’ – this requires the attention of some specialists. So we will over 2017, or the Government over 2017, will have a comprehensive review to understand what needs to be done to ensure the Copyright Board is working.”

“We also learned that the majority of members are part-time – so it’s unfair to expect that the job can get done. We learned of problems with files, we learned of problems with tariffs, we learned of process problems. So what we need to do is figure out what needs to get done, make some strong recommendations to correct it, and I think we also need to look at how its dealt with in our partner countries – how they deal with copyright in the U.K., in the U.S., in Japan. And I don’t know, but we need to look at that, because there will be some best practices and some models that we can utilize, and we’re going to ask the government to do this.
It’s very straightforward – the Copyright Board today is an impediment to the cultural industries in Canada. And there is no Senators that I know – and I would know them all – there is no Senator that would stand in support of any block to cultural industries in this country – it’s important to the quality of our life, and it’s important to our economics.”

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