[d@DCC] Some thoughts about P2P, written for a CBC reporter.
russell at flora.ca
Thu Feb 26 11:41:48 EST 2004
I was contacted by a journalist from "Disclosure", CBC TV Current
Affairs, about the CRIA vs. P2P lawsuit. I thought I would forward a note
I wrote quickly this morning, removing the persons name and email address.
I have an additional note to add to what we spoke about earlier. I am
copying Neil Leyton who is the musician and indie label I wrote to you
about earlier. His very interesting press release is at:
Here is a thought experiment to put the current P2P wars into context
that I was thinking about this morning as I was listening to my favorite
source of music.
If you ignore the technical protocol used to "upload" the music for a
moment you may be interested to note that one of the largest "uploaders"
of music in Canada is CBC itself.
Here is the website for digital radio stations, distributed by many
different communications mediums: http://www.galaxie.ca/
In my case I receive these digital stations through Rogers Cable.
CBC is authorized to "upload" this music via the digital network. Once
the music is downloaded into the home it can be legally copied and
listened to as many times as the home user wishes because of the private
copying regime. I as the audience did not pay for these digital music
stations : Galaxie and other digital radio stations come for free as soon
as you rent the digital tuner from Rogers (for example). In fact it would
cost me as an end user more to "download" this music using P2P (which
takes bandwidth, and some ISPs may charge for usage) than via CBC.
P2P is more convenient as I don't need to worry about any extra cabling
to store the music on my hard disk or a CD. With galaxie I would have to
hook my PC up to the digital tuner (digital audio output of course, to the
digital audio input of my PC so that there is no analog sound quality
loss) which would require an extra cable (<$5) and limit the choices of
where my PC would be as it would have to be close to my digital tuner.
So the economic question becomes: if the main difference between P2P
and CBC is whether CBC is authorized to "upload", is CBC Galaxie not also
almost as much of an economic threat to the recording industry as P2P is?
The whole "theft is theft" rhetoric falls apart very quickly when the
complexity of all the different licensing agreements and tariffs are
Does CBC pay a larger royalty to anyone for the increased audience that
this music has? Until 2002 the answer was no, and Galaxie was
distributing this music legally royalty-free up until the copyright board
made a change in the tariffs. SOCAN has an announcement about this on
their website, and many more details can be found from the copyright board
website (too many details, not all that interesting, other than to note
that the complexities of these tariffs throw the 'theft is theft' rhetoric
out the door):
And then there is the future of Internet distribution which will likely
allow us to record the music attached to the artists/album/etc information
"Is Galaxie distributed on the Internet?
You will eventually be able to hear Galaxie on the Net. For now,
negotiations with record labels concerning broadcast rights on the Net are
So, what is CBC Galaxie: is it advertising for music that people will
want to buy, is it a minor royalty revenue stream for the music industry,
is it another recording industry controllable medium used to promote their
"superstars" against the interests of indie artists, is it neutral, or is
it theft? Your opinion on this is about as good as anyone else's and you
can analyze it with any bias and come up with statistical evidence to
support any answer you wanted to.
Note that all of this was economic analysis, not legal or moral. With
CBC there is an agreement in place with the copyright board and the
recording industry cartels to allow the music to be distributed, where
with P2P there is no such agreement for "uploading". There is an
agreement between parliament and the copyright board on "downloading" in
the form of the private copying regime.
Even before the tariff was set what CBC was doing was legal as they were
relying on various existing compulsory licensing schemes.
Do the musicians get any royalties from any of these schemes? Did the
musicians get an option to authorize or not the music from airing on CBC
or P2P? If the musician is not one of the "superstars" chosen (often
owned) by the recording industry will they ever receive economic reward
for their work?
I do not write this to excuse P2P users who distribute music without the
authorization of the *musicians*. Whether the non-musician authorizing
the music is the government (compulsory licensing), non-creator copyright
holder (the label), a collective society which the musician didn't
authorize and doesn't receive royalties from, or a fan who thinks they are
helping the band by offering free advertising, I consider all of these
things to be wrong at various levels.
Russell McOrmond, Internet Consultant: <http://www.flora.ca/>
Perspective of a digital copyright reformer on Sheila Copps, MP.
Canadian File-sharing Legal Information Network http://www.canfli.org/
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