FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Fading Ways Records & several Toronto Indie Artists protest the shameless sell out of a Canadian politician and potential Minister of Canadian Heritage to multi-national corporations' lobbying interests in extremist copyright laws.
It has now become public knowledge that Liberal MP Sarmite Bulte, a long-time supporter of Canadian copyright "reform" and Bill C-60, has received significant campaign funding support from several industry players including several lobbying groups and trade associations such as Access Copyright, David Basskin's CMRRA and even, sadly, SOCAN. While legal, these political contributions amount to an ethical conflict of interest that should be eradicated from Canadian politics.
The final straw here is that the multi-national major labels' lobbying organization in Canada, CRIA, (the Canadian RIAA) is hosting a fundraiser for Bulte four days before the election. Tickets are $250 a plate.
CRIA, via their statistics-heavy press releases, persist on manipulating opinion polls and numbers to claim that they speak for Canadian citizens and the majority of Canadian artists – nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the interests of intermediaries like CRIA are not the same as the interests of the musicians, songwriters and other creator groups. CRIA can no more legitimately claim to politically represent musicians, than bank owners can claim to represent those who have bank accounts.
Furthermore, CRIA's boast that they represent more than 95% records produced and sold in Canada is misleading. In fact, they represent the interests of the "Canadian" major labels, who are in fact cultural importers (largely of US acts) rather than exporters of Canadian artists. Very often Canadian artists like Danko Jones have to sign to foreign labels in order to export their own music. CRIA's close ties to MP Bulte ("they are my friends", she explained) are questionable and objectionable. Fading Ways Records believes that Canadian Heritage should be controlled by true Canadian cultural interests, not political sell-outs.
CRIA and the majors have launched a massive PR assault to convince the Canadian public that downloading and file-sharing hurts record sales – again, in the independent sector, nothing could be further from the truth. The internet helps new fans discover new artists, and "piracy" is nothing but a scapegoat for the major label's failing business models that date back to the booming 80s. Indie CD sales are up, while major labels' sales are down due to the rise in the DVD market, and the high-price of sub-quality releases they peddle to the masses via huge marketing budgets.
Lastly, CRIA's press release this past week dared to accuse the NDP of "abandoning their traditional support for artists" in order to attack the NDP Parkdale candidate, Peggy Nash. (CRIA candidate Sam Bulte's opponent). Not true – the NDP is the only party that is aware of CRIA's corporate attempt to hijack Canadian copyright legislation, which at this point remains the most balanced and fair copyright act when compared to the USA's DMCA and the EU's IP Enforcement Directive. One particular NDP candidate, Charlie Angus, is an independent musician, author and broadcaster himself.
Bill C-60, which Bulte and CRIA support, and Angus criticizes, is a narrowing, one-sided piece of legislation that will inadvertently cause law-abiding citizens to break the law. It makes copyright even more complex than it already is. Copyright being excessively complex is one of its greatest flaws, and if citizens and organizations without a team of lawyers are expected to obey it then it must be simplified rationally and in a balanced way such as that described by concerned citizens like Michael Geist.
Canadians, and citizens of the world in general, are not "pirates" at all. In fact, piracy is the high-seas act of armed robbery, pillaging, murdering and raping. We at Fading Ways find it offensive that the same word is now used to describe a social act of sharing that has traditionally been part of our culture (home-taping, mixed cassettes, etc.) and deemed acceptable for decades. What CRIA and Bulte would have us live in is an Orwellian State where present and future teens are limited to a mainstream culture of purchased goods with no room for cultural variety, diversification, or free exchange of opinions on what constitutes good music. One example of the type of "protection" endorsed by CRIA and Bulte is the recent Sony/BMG "rootkit" type of DRM (Digital Rights Management) that essentially hi-jacked people's computers and was defined as "malware" even by Microsoft. The EFF has recently achieved an out-of-court compensation for fans whose consumers were affected by the Sony/BMG DRM copy protected discs that they purchased.
Neil Leyton and several Fading Ways Recording artists, as well as several Parkdale musical artists, hereby demonstrate their solidary with the NDP Parkdale candidate, Peggy Nash. Neil Leyton is available to the press for further commenting on copyright, the indie music sector, and the questionable close links between CRIA and the Liberal MP – a strong connection that he had the opportunity to witness first hand at the U of T Law School conference "Copyrights, Copywrongs" held last year.
Canada's copyright laws must not be hijacked by CRIA and Bulte.
Stop the music industry madness!
Contact: Neil Leyton nleyton -at- gmail.com
416 721 3566