SOCAN questions political parties on copyright policies

October 15, 2015

As part of SOCAN’s 2015 advocacy efforts, we submitted an election questionnaire to the three main federal political parties asking that they confirm their stance on a few of our key federal policy issues. These election questionnaires are vehicles used by a large number of member and advocacy associations during campaigns to gauge where support and opposition to policy priorities lie. Questionnaires are particularly helpful when dealing with complex, detailed and nuanced issues such as copyright, which tend not to be emphasized in campaign platforms.

SOCAN, like a lot of other associations, submitted our questionnaire to the central campaigns of the main federal parties – in this case Conservative, Liberal and NDP.

SOCAN’s questions to the parties focused on copyright term extension and two key areas of copyright reform we see as priorities for the next government to act on in the short-term. As responses are returned by the political parties, they will be posted on this page for you to review.

If you form the next government, will you commit to extending the copyright term for authors, including composers and songwriters, as well as their publishers, to life plus 70 years?

Liberal response: Liberals recognize that the extension of copyright for sound recordings has overall support within the Canadian music industry which sees this extension as a better protection of Canadian craft, putting Canada on par with the general international standard. We also recognize the benefits for keeping control and revenue in the hands of the artists and labels in Canada. A Liberal government will work with stakeholders such as SOCAN to examine a similar extension for authors and composers. Unlike the Conservative party who introduced omnibus legislation to make these changes, a Liberal government will ensure that fundamental changes to the Copyright Act receive robust debate in Parliament.

NDP response: The NDP welcomed the government changes in Budget 2015 to extend the term of copyright for performers. We understand there is now discrepancy between performers and songwriters. The NDP is committed to reviewing the Copyright Act in 2017 as the Act requires. We would look to make these key legislative changes in our first year of mandate. These are among the changes we would be looking into.

If you form the next government, will you commit to providing the Copyright Board with the resources it needs to speed up its decision-making process?

Liberal: A Liberal government will take a leadership role and initiate preliminary consultations for this review without delay, with all parties involved, in a completely open and transparent manner. The current 2-3 year wait time for decisions to be rendered is unacceptable and has negatively impacted too many Canadians’ livelihoods. The Liberal caucus has previously fought for these changes, highlighting the need for the federal government to undertake consultations with the Copyright Board as soon as possible to determine the reasons for the delays in rendering decisions – notably in the digital context – and establish, in consultation with the Commission, a level of funding that is adequate for the timely delivery of its mandate. A Liberal government will act in the interests of Canadians. We will ensure that the federal government fulfills its obligations and does not create the circumstances for Canadians’ success to be stalled by excessive red tape.

NDP: The NDP recognizes that the Copyright Board does not process cases in a timely fashion. We are concerned with the Tariff 8 decision which took years to be rendered. An NDP government will work with the Copyright Board to review priorities and efficiency to ensure that resources are invested in processing cases in a timely manner.

If you form the next government, will you commit to reviewing the Copyright Act in 2017, including a review of the number and scope of exceptions to copyright infringement?

Liberal: The Liberal of Canada Party believes Canada should implement fair and balanced copyright modernization laws that ensure content creators are fairly compensated for their work, while also protecting consumer rights. A review of the Broadcasting Act and the Copyright Act is in order, and a Liberal government will take a leadership role by initiating open and transparent preliminary consultations with all parties involved for this review without delay. A Liberal government will implement fair and balanced copyright modernization laws that ensure content creators are fairly compensated for their work, while also protecting consumer rights.

NDP: Yes, as explained above, an NDP government is committed to undertaking the statutory review of the Copyright Act in 2017. We would start by requesting proposals for legislative changes.

Voter turnout in the last federal election was estimated by Elections Canada to be 61.4 percent, the third lowest in Canadian history. Encouragingly, Elections Canada is reporting that voting in advance polls in this 2015 election increased by 71 percent.  Don’t miss your opportunity to register your vote on Oct. 19, 2015.  If you need more information about your electoral district, candidates and details on registering and where to vote, visit Elections Canada’s website.