In response today to the tabling in Parliament of the new Copyright Bill C-32, singer and composer Loreena McKennitt commented publicly that she welcomed strengthened protection of intellectual property. While noting that she had not yet had the opportunity to closely study the details of the new Bill, the award winning recording artist and Member of the Order of Canada emphasized that it was imperative that the government finally bring Canadian law in line with international treaties signed many years ago.

I am happy that Canada has joined the many other nations who have recognized that copyright protection in the 21st century is essential to cultivating and protecting the various creative industries of  music, film, games, publishing and  architecture, to name a few.”

“The digital age is one with many opportunities, but it is a trans-border global phenomenon that requires co-operation and harmony to achieve benefits for humanity. Respect for intellectual property, individual privacy and cultural sensitivity must be paramount alongside clear harmonized regulation. In this way, predictable economic business models can work.”

Loreena pointed out that creative people have the right to earn a living from their work and spoke of the damage that has occurred in the absence of sufficient regulatory protection.  

“With particular regard to the music industry, where composers, lyricists and designers provide ideas and true creative content, there is a vast and complex ecosystem of expertise (such as studio engineers, musicians, printers, promoters and record store employees, etc.) which has been profoundly affected by the large scale theft and distribution of copyrighted material over the Internet.”

“As the owner of my own independent record label and the manager for 20 years of an international recording career, I have seen this devastation first hand. Many brilliant people can no longer make a living and this is a huge loss to our culture, heritage and our local economies.  As a business person as well as an artist, I can’t accept the assurances of anti-copyright activists who say that artists can make up the loss of sales of recordings by hawking t-shirts at concerts.” 

Loreena hopes that the many Canadians who participated in or read about the public consultations on copyright last summer will take the time to fully understand the new provisions and not be swayed by oversimplifications or alarmist pronouncements of those with vested interests in a pirate or parasitic culture.

“From activists and academics we hear a lot about so-called ‘user rights’. It is my view that we should be extremely careful with this kind of crafted language, because it isn’t a matter of ‘user rights’ but rather ‘user permissions’. Once we dispel the notion that people own the music in a CD or a download rather than the reality that they have purchased a ‘license to listen’ then we can cease worrying about how to balance these needs. Many things the public wishes to do with what they purchase can all be accomplished within the framework of permissions and limited copying for personal use.” 

“If Canadians want a vibrant culture in the future we have to ensure the longstanding rights of those who create our art and music and with fairness protect those fundamental rights from erosion and corruption.”

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