A Barenaked guide to music copyright reform

On May Day 2006, Stephen Page of Barenaked ladies published The Barenaked guide to music copyright reform. It appears that yesterday Canada’s government decided to ignore some of its most famous and commercially successful artists, including Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan, Chantal Kreviazuk, Sum 41, Broken Social Scene, Stars, Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace, Dave Bidini of Rheostatics, Billy Talent, John K. Sampson of Weakerthans, Sloan, Andrew Cash, Bob Wiseman, a co-founder of Blue Rodeo, and Page’s own band, the Barenaked Ladies, by giving standing to rightsholders in the music industry who wish to sue music fans for downloading music.

Page is one of the co-founders of the canadian music creators coalition, an organization that as recently as last month said “Not In Our Names” to an action by the US Judicial system against Jammie Thomas of Brainerd, MN. She was hit with a fine of $222,000 for having downloaded 24 songs (approximately 90 minutes of music) with a retail commercial value of less than $25. Such outrageous awards might be expected in a US court, but that’s precisely why Canadian artists are so keen to avoid anything like that arising in Canadian court.

I applaud the Canadian artists who have stepped forward to seek a better solution than the one that is merely hastening the demise of the music industry in America. I can only hope that the decision taken by the Canadian government yesterday has a long, slow winter ahead of it, and that by springtime Canadian citizens and artists alike can join their voices and nip this in the bud.

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