“Musicians have rights, too”, Maia Davies

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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13 thoughts on ““Musicians have rights, too”, Maia Davies”

  1. Alexis says:

    This is a great article. Clear and concise and really brings home why copyright reform is important.

  2. themansonicetheynamedhimtwice says:

    Great article on why Canadian bands need legal protection for their work. Maia makes great points about how fame can’t pay the bills. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Adam says:

    Thank you, Maia!

  4. VS1629 says:

    This is a very courageous step for an artist to take. It’s fantastic to get lots of exposure, but exposure won’t pay the bills, pay the costs of touring, or pay for the recording costs of the music that people think it’s ok to steal. It’s ironic that the very pirate sites that facilitate theft of artists’ work generate ad revenue on their sites (which are NOT shared with the creators of the content. Who’s going to bother investing in music when that investment isn’t returned? We’ll all be poorer for this – not just because of the jobs that will be lost, but because of the artists who won’t have careers. Copyright law needs to be modernized NOW so that artists like Maia have some CHOICE as to whether their work is monetized.

  5. steve kane says:

    I’m proud to work with an artist of Maia’s talent and that she is willing to stand up for her rights. Our international industry association IFPI estimates that 95% of digital music is from pirate or file-sharing sites. Maia and her partners in Ladies Of The Canyon have created wonderful music, we’ve invested in their career yet so much of the money is going to pirates selling ad’s around their songs …sound fair?

    All Canadians should be working to improve C-32 not wasting time trying to justify parasitic behaviour.

    Thanks to Maia for taking a stand.

  6. Paul says:

    Well put Maia! The path of an artist is often a very difficult one, and bill C-32 is an important step in the right direction in terms of protecting intellectual property – thank you for putting your thoughts out there!

  7. Chris says:

    Thanks for posting this Barry! If only more artists would stand up. The backlash can be so intimidating but worth it in the end.

  8. Linda Noelle says:

    It’s hard to deliver the music too. As an indie it’s difficult to find money to record. Murderecords used to joke about “indie gold” being sales of 5000, nowadays it’s a feat to make it to 2000.

  9. Clarence says:

    It’s possibly one of the most difficult times to develop a career as a musician; touring is essential to survival but overhead costs to tour have always been helped by revenues generated through album sales. It’s sad that so many of tomorrow’s great musicians are being burnt into the ground because of illegal downloading. So-called “consumers” have a far too dilated sense of entitlement on the issue of copyright reform — Maia has done what so many artists have rightfully been afraid to do and speak out on this issue. Thanks Maia, you are truly inspiring!

  10. Darlene says:

    Thank you to Maia for having the courage to say publicly what so many artists are afraid to say – that they deserve to be paid for their work, and more – that paying artists for their work is how we ensure that music in Canada thrives. I wish every artist would stand up and talk about illegal downloading as the catastrophe that it is, both financially and culturally.

  11. Artist123 says:

    Excellent post Maia! I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for standing up and supporting Bill C-32 on behalf of artists and other creative makers.

  12. Kenny G says:

    Cheers Maia! I truly hope your sincere words will strike a chord with people who have been contemplating the necessity of Bill C-32. You have brought to light the real struggle of musicians in Canada to fight for suvival. These artists, being consumers themselves, pay for what they require in life; whether it be food, clothing, rent, gas…the list goes on. The creative results produced by the singers, songwriters and musicians in Canada are what they require to survive. Bill C-32 will help the cause by compensating them for their creativity. KG.

  13. Jill says:

    Way to go Maia! I look forward to sharing this thoughtful article with the young adults I teach. Those who hope to make their future in the arts would benefit from understanding the importance of copyright.

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