In order to effectively support and protect Canadian music creators, and look after their economic interests, SOCAN advocates for our members by lobbying the Canadian government and main federal political parties.
It’s important for the federal government to understand that Canada’s creative economy is one of the most vibrant in the world. This means a rich culture, both historically and currently, including some of the most popular music creators in the world today – like The Weeknd, Drake, Arcade Fire, Shawn Mendes, Michael Bublé, Coeur de Pirate, Luc Plamondon, Les Cowboys Fringants and many more. It also means contributions to Canada’s gross domestic product, export revenues and job creation.
SOCAN is a business that is politically agnostic. Our 130,000-plus Canadian members have a very diverse range of political views, but we work with any and all major political entities that can improve the lives and the livelihoods of our members. We’ve had, and will continue to have, conversations with the main federal parties, whether they’re in power or not.
We thank all the people we’ve met during the last Parliamentary term for their attention to our issues. And we’ve been encouraged by our contacts with key Liberal decision makers before the recent federal campaign began, including what we sense as a strong personal commitment for the cultural industries – especially music – by now-Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. We all remember his surprise visit at the SOCAN networking party on Parliament Hill last May.
Among the many issues of interest to SOCAN are the following:
Swift action on extending the term of copyright protection for songwriters, composers and music publishers from 50 to 70 years after the death of the last surviving songwriter or composer. The previous government did create this extension for sound recordings, but did not do the same for songwriters and composers. Following SOCAN’s outreach, both the Liberals and NDP weighed in on the record during Parliamentary question period supporting this initiative. Such an action would bring Canada in line with modern international norms, supporting productivity and our trade agenda.
Improvement in the way the Copyright Board of Canada works. The government could greatly improve our members’ economic well-being by granting the Copyright Board the resources it requires in order to render decisions on a more timely basis. A recent study showed that the average time it took the Board to certify a tariff was 3.55 years; when hearings are required, the average timeline jumps to 4.42 years. It seems all parties agree on this, and we hope the current government will be the one to make it happen.
Clarification of the numerous and broad exceptions and limitations to copyright in the Canadian legislation, of which there are far too many, especially for a country with such a vibrant cultural and entertainment ecosystem.
Boosting the export potential of our talented music creators and artists. We hope that under Stéphane Dion, the foreign ministry will see the potential of new public/private partnerships in this respect, and SOCAN is more than ready to do its part.
Redefine the private copying regime (started by a Liberal government in the late ‘90s) to catch up with most advanced countries in the world, so that the amazing value being created for some companies (like digital services and digital device manufacturers) out of music can be shared with the very creators that are the originators of that music, and who make that value creation possible.
On all of these issues, the government needs to move quickly. This is the 21st Century; time – and technological change – flow much more quickly than before, so our music creator and publisher members can’t wait until 2017 for a “business as usual” review of the key legislation. Canada is a hot-bed of creative and digital industries, but with the slow pace of political activity, they’re fighting with at least one hand tied behind their backs. And given that these delays in passing legislation span tax years, a sudden one-off payment can also have significant tax implications for our members. If a royalty decision is lower than estimated, SOCAN must reclaim the excess from our members. As such, these delays creates significant economic uncertainty for our members.
We need these issues to be fixed in order to best harness all of our energies and claim our rightful place in the world of music policy: that of a leader.