It is a widely held belief that the failure of recording companies to adapt to the new realities of the internet led to a failed business model and compensatory attack on broadcasters in search of revenue. But a Canadian music publisher is arguing that companies directly benefitting from internet music piracy need to shoulder some responsibility – companies like ISPs and search engines, among others.
Michael McCarty, President of Canadian music publisher ole, commented on a bill pending before the Canadian Parliament that he says fails to attack the real problem.
“The vast majority of music consumed on the Internet – over 90 percent – is pirated,” he said. “When music is pirated, the artists don’t get paid, but the ISPs, search engines, advertisers, websites and device manufacturers do. They all profit from enabling this pirate activity, while denying any responsibility to pay the people who create the music in the first place. Not only will Bill C-32 fail to fix this, it will actually ensure that these companies never have to pay.”
McCarty suggests a search for both long-term and short-term solutions. One short-term possibility would be to be take a policy that sends money to artists for blank CDs, which can be used to copy their material, and extend it to MP3 devices, which are largely used in online piracy – that would allow the device manufacturers who enable piracy to provide some small bit of compensation to the artists and publishers being damaged.
McCarty noted that the practice of making examples of downloaders in court, as has been tried by labels in the US, has proven to be useless. “There is no reason to believe similar legislation in Canada will be anything but a failure as well – except for those who profit from piracy.” He concluded, “Surely it is time to stop protecting those who profit from piracy at the expense of the artists by fostering a marketplace for music in the digital age. Is it too much to hope that the Parliamentary Committee will find a way to correct this fundamental flaw in Bill C-32? If they don’t, it will be a giant step backward for artists and songwriters and a giant leap forward for those who use and distribute music without paying for it.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Solving the problem of piracy is no easy matter, but at the very least, it is refreshing to see a damaged stakeholder look for solutions at the source of the damage. Radio did not cause the labels’ problems, and radio is not the label’s long-term solution, other than it will continue to provide invaluable marketing opportunities if the labels can manage to avoid destroying the proven broadcast/label partnership.