Barry Sookman, one of Canada’s leading copyright lawyers, wrote an op-ed published in The Globe and Mail on January 18, addressing two of the major challenges facing the cultural industries in Canada: pirate streaming and the Value Gap. The piece was later posted in its full, unedited length on Sookman’s personal website.
Sookman says that “our outdated legal frameworks” are a significant contributing cause of these challenges. He references Music Canada’s 2017 report The Value Gap: Its Origins, Impacts and a Made-In-Canada Approach, which shows that “the market value of music in Canada is still a fraction of what it once was, and equitable remuneration for access to music remains elusive.”
The report defines the Value Gap as the “significant disparity between the value of creative content that is accessed and enjoyed by consumers, and the revenues that are returned to the people and businesses who create it.”
As Sookman points out, the Value Gap is not only a problem for music creators. He says that most of Canada’s leading cultural industries are also affected, including journalism, television and film.
A coalition of author and publisher groups have documented the harm caused by the Value Gap to their sector, and in 2017 launched the I Value Canadian Stories campaign to urge Canadian lawmakers to “restore balance between the need to compensate our creators for educational copying and the need to promote access to quality content.” The campaign website notes that royalties to creators and publishers for copying of their works have declined by 80% since 2013.
Sookman concludes that, given the magnitude of this problem and the threat to Canada’s cultural industries, the issue, as well as practical solutions, “deserve the attention and support of Canadians.”