“Musicians have rights, too”, Maia Davies

August 13th, 2010 by Barry Sookman Leave a reply »

Yesterday, Maia Davies, a musician, vocalist and songwriter with the musical group Ladies of the Canyon, published an op-ed in the MONTREAL GAZETTE and EDMONTON jOURNAL. Titled “musicians have rights, too”, Maia Davies described how illegal downloading has “been a catastrophe” and why supporting C-32 to amend the Copyright Act including its provisions which protect technological measures is so important. She wrote, in part:

Illegal downloading has been a catastrophe for me and for many of my peers. When most copies of our recorded music are “shared” on the Internet, it is difficult if not impossible to earn a living from it. The list of famous Canadian musicians and songwriters whose work fans know and cherish, but who now cannot make a living from their passion, would come as a shock. Touring remains a source of income, but overhead costs are huge. Profits do not amount to earning a living, and don’t fairly compensate for the time and labour invested.

In a free-market economy, consumers can choose whether or not to purchase a product. But they don’t have the right to take products without permission, and pay nothing in return. I am expected to pay for the goods and services I consume. That’s why I see downloading as nothing less than theft.

The government of Canada took an important step to correct this situation when it introduced Bill C-32. Some people have raised objections. If those objections are based on a desire for better consumer access to creative works, count me in. But that isn’t really what we are talking about here. This discussion really comes down to Canadian workers’ rights to fair compensation for services rendered.

The purported negative consequences of the bill seem to me to be overly dramatized. Digital locks, for example, are cast by some as unfair to consumers. But they are needed to safeguard intellectual property. Heeding such criticisms would deny artists and the music industry the reasonable protection they need.

Maia Davies also pointed out that “There is lots of amazing new talent in Canada today, alive with the promise of a bright artistic future, capable of stirring Canadians and the world. These artists will reward all of us if given the opportunity. At the very least, they deserve fair treatment under law.”

Completely separately, Rick Carnes the President of the Songwriters Guild of America published an op-ed in the The Huffington Post yesterday titled “Professional Songwriters and the Creative Commons License.” In it he underscored the importance of professional songwriters being able to own and control their musical copyrights.

Both op-eds are worth a full read.

For more information about the Copyright Modernization Act or Bill C-11 or copyright reform, see Change and the Copyright Modernization Act.

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