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Canadian Record Industry's Secret Lobby Campaign 144

CRIAWatch writes "Michael Geist has an editorial published in the Hill Times, a Canadian political newsweekly, about a secret lobbying campaign by the Canadian Recording Industry Association. The report details how days after the last Canadian election CRIA lobbyists worked with officials to plan an event featuring speakers on the CRIA payroll who are promoting a DMCA for Canada, dozens of government officials from seven departments, an expensive lunch with senior government executives paid for by taxpayers, as well as a private meeting with the Canadian Heritage Minister who is responsible for copyright law."
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Canadian Record Industry's Secret Lobby Campaign

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  • Plutocracy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Umbral Blot ( 737704 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @07:36PM (#15520517) Homepage
    I for one welcome our wealthy overlords. In all seriousness many democratic countries are effectively ruled by the rich already. (For example consider the amount of money needed to win an election, ensuring all candidates are either independently wealthy or in the pockets of their campaign contributors) Why should it surprise anyone that the people in power are making laws that benefit themselves? See Plutocracy [wikipedia.org] and tell me with a straight face that isn't almost every modern "democratic" government.
    • Re:Plutocracy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RoffleTheWaffle ( 916980 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @07:46PM (#15520575) Journal
      Plutocracy - The best Democracy money can buy.
    • All it takes is a few rounds of not re-electing the same bought and paid-for fools. The problem is that the general population is so ignorant, indifferent, or both, that they end up having exactly zero effect on the system. The only change is that the list of laws get longer, the tax code gets more complex, and a bunch more money changes hands.

      So, the majority must be more or less accepting of the situation, even if it's grudging. "I know my Senator is corrupt, but at least he's familiar. I don't know

      • Hey, I'm not saying a Plutocracy is necessarily against the wishes of the people. After all it's probably better than communism. I'm just saying we should call it what it is and not pretend we are living in a pure and perfect democracy. Laws like this aren't aberrations, they are to be expected.
        • I suppose if the people are moderately happy and generally want the same things, who are we to argue? And I'm guessing that extra marketing afforded to the affluent would ensure that the people getting their three squares of media content per day would be of the same mind of the wealthy.

          Not unlike a shepherd herding sheep. Keep them contained and happy, fleece them, and put them back out to pasture until the next time. Everybody wins.

      • All it takes is a few rounds of not re-electing the same bought and paid-for fools.

        ...to create a class that is entirely dependent upon outside finacing. You kids may not remember, but this is what the Gingrich Revolution was about. It pretty much worked, but lasted about two years. Then the new kids at school were facing competition... Predictable outcome ensues.

        And that's pretty much the point of this article. Only with a more amusing pronunciation of 'about'.

    • Re:Plutocracy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @08:10PM (#15520675) Homepage
      Actually, generally speaking, that *doesn't* describe the Canadian government (I can't speak for others, of course). You see, unlike the US, we have laws (such as campaign finance limitations) which prevent what amounts to institutionalized bribary of government officials. Of course, that doesn't prevent lobbiests from finding ways of working around those rules, but the practice is greatly discouraged, and is absolutely unacceptable to the public.
      • It's also quite possible to get elected as an independent and some MPs are not fabulously wealthy nor have fabulously wealthy friends.
    • In all seriousness many democratic countries are effectively ruled by the rich already.


      I remember one state (I think it was NH) touted recently that the annual salary of their senators is but $100. Now that guarantees that only the rich will get in.

      - RG>
    • The only difference between corruption in our western democracies and that of the developing nations which head the Standard and Poor's corruption league is how much it costs and therefore who can afford to buy!
    • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @10:25AM (#15523761)
      For example consider the amount of money needed to win an election, ensuring all candidates are either independently wealthy or in the pockets of their campaign contributors)

          Actually the cost of an election has gone way down, in America that is. Only a fraction of the money that used to be spent lying to the electorate is now necessary to bribe the programmer of the Diebold election machine. Pay off the programmer and you win: 51% to 49%, each and every time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 12, 2006 @07:38PM (#15520533)
    between "secret lobbying" and "bribery"

    In my country bribery used to be a scandalous form of fraud.
    • between "secret lobbying" and "bribery"
      simple: you don't wink when you bribe somebody. it's all about the wink.
    • In my country bribery used to be a scandalous form of fraud.
      Yeah, it used to be scanalous in my country too. And I live in the US.
    • What's the difference between "secret lobbying" and "bribery"

      Bribery is when it goes in the minister's pocket. Secret lobbying is when it goes into the party's pocket. The main problem is that the latter is easier to get away with (especially for the company).
      • Not quite.

        The difference is that lobbying has limits and gets reported according to disclosure rules.

        Bribes are anything outside the ethics, lobbying & disclosure rules. So, even lobbying activites that would normally be 100% legit can create a sticky mess if it isn't done according to the rules.

        Anyways, as far as any of us are concerned, most lobbying events are "secret". They aren't publicized, but are available in the public record, though not necessarily right away.

        The OPED writer uses lots of innue
        • Were any laws broken?

          Maybe not, but maybe something's also wrong with the law. The laws are made by the same people who receive the money. Why would they change it?

          Is this behavior considerably apart from the norm?

          If bribery was the norm as well, it would be right?
    • Bribery of government officials used to be a serious offense in the US too, but that all changed when the country stopped being ran by the People and started being ran by the Corporations.
    • When you secretly give money to one official, to get them to decide in your favour, it is bribery and illegal.

      Whwn you do it on a larger scale, giving money to a whole party, which is more effective, then it is called lobbying, and it is legal.

      Apparently, political parties got to make the rules, and provided they get their cut, they are OK with bribery.

      It's those loners who keep it for themselves that have to be stamped out.
    • There is nothing unusual about "secret lobbying". That is just the way that politics works. Indeed, when we were working the Open Source bill in the Oregon legislature, we lobbied in secret for months before the bill became public knowledge. And Micro$oft's lobbyists lobbied in secret to kill it after it became public knowledge. They won, of course.

      If you think politics is a nice game of tiddlywinks among people who play fairly, you are hopelessly naive. Politics is about power, and the money that buy

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @07:43PM (#15520556)
    Watch out Canada! We'll make you into the United States yet!
  • When the conservatives won in January it was just a matter of time really.
    • by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @11:32PM (#15521557) Homepage Journal
      You do realize the Liberals were looking at the possibility of something DMCA-like just a few weeks after Martin took the reigns, don't you?

      They're all corrupt. Trying to blame one particular party for the corruption and mess that is any government is like trying to blame the pollution in Los Angeles on one particular blue Chevy Nova.

      (Why blue? I dunno. Seemed like a good colour at the time.)
  • by 9mm Censor ( 705379 ) * on Monday June 12, 2006 @07:50PM (#15520589) Homepage
    "The music lobby group was planning a study on the Canadian music industry and was seeking $50,000 in funding from Canadian Heritage to help support the project. " I am going to freak, if I as a tax payer have to pay to fund corprate propoganda.
    • "The music lobby group was planning a study on the Canadian music industry and was seeking $50,000 in funding from Canadian Heritage to help support the project. " I am going to freak, if I as a tax payer have to pay to fund corprate propoganda.

      To be fair, the department of Canadian Heritage is supposed to give out some funding relating to Canadian culture, which Canadian music is.
      • To be fair, the department of Canadian Heritage is supposed to give out some funding relating to Canadian culture, which Canadian music is.

        Fine. Sponsor some musicians or something. Don't sponsor a study with an agenda backed by a cartel of multinationals seeking to line their pockets at the expense of the Canadian people.
  • The only members of the CRIA are the American record labels. The Canadian labels have all pulled out.
    • Is there a list of companies under the CRIA?
    • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @10:38PM (#15521331)
      "The only members of the CRIA are the American record labels."

      Uh ... the big four recording companies which control more than two thirds of the recording business, which are probably the ones that count here, aren't really "American". Some 2004 market share I could find:

      "Universal maintains its position as the world's biggest recording company, with a 25.5% share of the world market. Sony BMG is next with a 21.5% share followed by EMI at 13.4% and Warner at 11.3%. The independent sector holds steady with a 28.4% global share."

      Universal Music Group, while American in origin, is owned by Vivendi, which is a French company.
      Sony BMG is owned by ... uh ... Sony which is a Japanese company and BMG is Bertelsmann a German company.
      EMI is a British company based in London.
      Last I remember Time Warner sold Warner Music Group to Edgar Bronfman, principal in Seagrams. Seagrams is based in Montreal, though I think Bronfman lives in New York, and a lot of Warner Music is in the U.S. so its kind of a Canadian-American company.

      So nice try, trying to ascribe RIAA/CRIA insanity solely to America isn't really accurate. You should probably just refer to them as multinationals, the root of most evil in the world. Greed is pretty much an international disease, the U.S. just has a particularly virulent dose.
    • Sony and Universal are the largest record labels, and they are Japanese and French respectively.

      Although in the age of global media, nationality is largely irrelevant. Sex, income, age, urban/suburban/rural, and your selected youth subculture has much more to do with what music you listen to than the geo-political boundries that were carved up by European powers in the last century. And the way capital works in the modern market, a company can be "American" because it is traded on the NYSE, but be owned alm
  • Who was there? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crossmr ( 957846 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @07:58PM (#15520631) Journal
    I'd like to see a list of exactly which government officials attended this.
    • I'm sure it'll hit the front page of the Ottawa Citizen within a couple of days.

      In all honesty, I don't see the current legislation giving in to this. Then again, here in Canada the people let themselves get dumped on by the government daily.
      • I wrote the previous heritage person last year when I found out that several companies were lobbying under the guise of "saving canadians from another tax" to remove the media tax and turn us all into criminals and make lawsuits easier. At that time they didn't seemed at all inclined to buy into it. I'm not sure how the current indivdiuals are operating. They don't seem foolish enough to go down the american slippery slope and I think thats one thing we have going for our government. Anytime something comes
    • I'd like to see this reach the mainstream press,seriously the coverage of this story by p2p.net slashdot and hill times is pretty meaningless. Thier readership are already well informed about the issues.

      The majority of the canadian people who already pay the levy on blank media, who will be criminalised for the benefit of multi-nationals, they need to be informed.

      The CRIA and the Politicians will not feel any heat until canadian citizens are enraged about this, canadians who know about this story need to br
  • DMCA for Canada (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrMindWarp ( 663427 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @08:04PM (#15520653)
    As signatories of the 1996 WIPO Copyright treaty, Canada is legally obliged to create a DMCA type law. They signed up to this already - it is just a matter of implementation.
    • Well. They're obliged?

      Well, well, well. So I have a couple of suggestions:

      1. Craft a law just like the US version of the DMCA, except:

      2. Make any violation of thie Act a misdemeanor with no civil penalties possible.

      3. Make the penalty exactly $1 CDN and 1 minute in jail.

      There. That should be the lesson the **AA needs: there is a letter of the law and a spirit of the law. They don't seem to recognize the difference.

    • Re:DMCA for Canada (Score:4, Informative)

      by djmurdoch ( 306849 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @08:48PM (#15520876)
      Canada signed it, but hasn't ratified it [wipo.int]. It is not law yet. Just like the USA and the Kyoto Protocol, one would hope: signed but never to be ratified.

      Except that the current government is now revealed to be in the pockets of the multinational copyright mafia...
      • Re:DMCA for Canada (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Canada signed"

        The Liberal government of the day signed... so the former government is now revealed to be in the pockets of the multinational copyright mafia...

        Asshole.
        • The Liberal government of the day signed... so the former government is now revealed to be in the pockets of the multinational copyright mafia...

          "Now revealed"? I think that was clear before, and it lost Sarmite Bulte her seat in Parliament. But now, if they are smart opportunists (which they used to be, I'm not so sure they're smart these days) they'll take this opportunity and run with it. Probably the NDP will.
    • by Hamster Lover ( 558288 ) * on Monday June 12, 2006 @08:58PM (#15520927) Journal
      While it is true that Canada signed the 1996 WIPO treaty it does not mean that we have to pass a law anything like the DMCA in the U.S. Before it was killed due to the last Federal election, the copyright reform act that was proposed did contain provisions for criminalizing the circumvention of digital copy controls, but only if the intent was to pirate. Circumvention of a copy control for personal use was excepted, so ripping a copy of a DVD to your hard drive or cracking e-book encryption to interopt with text to speech software and anything else that could fall under personal was permitted. Huge, huge difference. That's not to say the bill was perfect, libraries and universities were not happy with some of the provisions. I am sure they are happy the bill died.

      Also, the personal exemption for private copying of audio works was untouched, so one could continue to make copies of CDs and tapes without worry of prosecution.

      Hey, it might be cold in Cananda, but were not stupid. When the previous bill went to committee it was brought up again and again how the DMCA in the U.S. had failed and was a model for how not to implement the digital copy controls outlined in the WIPO treaty. I don't think the current Conservative government wants to go through all that again, so I doubt that any copyright bill they propose would differ substantially from the previous one, although you can be sure that libraries, schools and universities are going to make themselves a little better heard.
  • Canadian Heritage (Score:5, Informative)

    by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @08:09PM (#15520671) Homepage
    I had no idea what the Canadian Heritage [pch.gc.ca] was, so I looked it up. Apparenty, its an official goverment branch that is responsible for national policies and programs that promote Canadian content, foster cultural participation, active citizenship and participation in Canada's civic life, and strengthen connections among Canadians.
    • That is where Bob & Doug McKenzie on the old SNL show came from. Because part of the production was in Canada, they wanted some Canadian content. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, a pair of really funny guys, they were given the orders to go out and "do something Canadian".

      They had a musical hit, with Geddy Lee of Rush, with "take off". And a modest movie "strange brew" with Max Von Sydow.
      • That is where Bob & Doug McKenzie on the old SNL show came from


        It was actually SCTV [museum.tv], but you're right -- they were told by the CRTC to come up with two minutes of "identifiable Canadian content," so they improvised two guys drinking beer and wearing touques.
        • Re:Canadian Heritage (Score:3, Informative)

          by schon ( 31600 )
          they were told by the CRTC to come up with two minutes of "identifiable Canadian content,"

          Do you have a link to back that up? Because the entire fscking show was "Canadian Content" - *ALL* of it (which you'd know if you'd ever read the CanCon [lexi.net] regulations.) CanCon has nothing (as in ***NOTHING***) to do with the subject matter of a program. At all.

          The real story behind Bob & Doug goes as follows:

          Because commercial time in Canada is two minutes shorter in Canada than in the US, SCTV needed two extra mi
    • Let's not forget about Sheila Copps & the "500 of the Best Dumb Blonde Jokes" that cost us $98,000 That's our Heritage Ministry hard at work!
  • by failedlogic ( 627314 ) on Monday June 12, 2006 @09:33PM (#15521077)
    Something seems a bit fishy about the motives of CRIA and its not just this Canadia-taxpayer funded meal.
    Not only have most of the Canadian labels pulled out, but they don't seem to easily identify which labels they represent.

    More telling though is this site http://www.cria.ca/stats.php [www.cria.ca] which has their industry statistics on CD and DVD sales. I'm not an accountant or trained in business, but doesn't it feel funny to read this sentence? "Sales information is supplied by members of CRIA and tabulated by Grant Thornton without audit." I take their said statistics with a grain of salt.

    Politician: So are you saying movies and music are being pirated? Do you have less sales records as proof?
    CRIA: Yes.
    Critic: So who tabulates the records? Is there an audit trail?
    CRIA: One person. Sorry no audits available.
    Politician: Enough! The proof is in the records!
    Critic: But they're not even responsibily tallied! We need more information.
    Politician: We're passing the law.

    Ah, Democracy!! (sigh)
  • I spoke with him and a fellow cabinet minister in person yesterday about C-60, and let them both know my concerns about the bill. Face time is worth a dozen letters.
  • Well this would make it the 3rd round of copyright reforms being sought by the CRIA in the past 8 years, or maybe it's the 4th? dam I've lost count! Anyway, after each previous reform attempt the CRIA suffered a severe defeat, the last reform actually ended up making it perfectly legal for Canadian's to download music. I imagine if this new reform push goes through the CRIA will likely have to pay us Canadian's to listen to their music. That's what you get when you have American lawyer's trying to rewrit
  • Politicians Corrupt, Money Buys Laws!
    Other breaking news:
    • Pope Catholic!
    • Bear sh*ts in woods!
    • Frog's Ass Watertight!
  • CRIA were sniffing around our campaign offices DURING the election - that's when politians are most available.

    The fact of the matter is that the recording industry is actually at odds with artists and concert promoters. The reason is that if a certain amount of pirating goes on, it's a form of guerilla marketing. Net net, awareness of the artist grows because more people are listing... sales evolve from that.

    The CRIA, in contrast, represents the 'successful' artists who have multi-million dollar marke

  • Well, Duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RexRhino ( 769423 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2006 @12:03AM (#15521693)
    If you have a form of government that is highly centralized, with virtually no limits to the control it can exercise on people, then opportunists will take advantage of that power. The more centralized a government, the easier it is to control, and the more powerful a government, the more opportunity for power or profit by manipulating it.

    It is unrealistic to assume that a state as centralized and powerful as the government of Canada wouldn't be ripe with corruption. People don't understand politics, because they try to understand politics and government as a "moral" issue that is somehow seperate from the laws of physics and reality. Any system gets large enough, and it is more and more difficult to fight entrophy. In creatures, large creatures are more prone to parasites and diseases, and require much more food energy just to survive with little added benift. In a software project, as you have more and more source code and more and more complexity, development of the software will require more and more resources just to manage the project and debug. Likewise, a large government like Canada will naturaly have vast amounts of corruption. In everything from Empires, to bread molds, to youtube internet memes, there seems to be a certain threshold for growth beyond which a system tends to lose cohesion and fall apart.

    Many Canadians still don't get that they are no longer a "small" country. It is no longer the "northern wilderness" it was 100 years ago, and the government has grown to be a leviathan. Canadians think theirs is a "smaller, friendlier" government, because they tend to compare themselves to the United States which is the epitome of vast unchecked leviathan monster government. But the Canadian government has become a vast beurocracy that dominates nearly all of Canadian life - Making secret deals with the government is the only way a large buisness can survive in Canada.

    If Canada didn't have a "Heritage Minister" to control the flow of information, there would be no central authority for big media to manipulate (real heritage is a spontanious cultural expression of the people, and not a commmodity like water or petroleum to be centrally planned by the state). If the government didn't have vast powers to regulate communication protocols, media, computer networks, and electronic devices, bribery and corruption would be irrelevant: There would be no point in trying to manipulate authority that doesn't exist.
  • I was just thinking about moving there. Seriously. Well, I guess it's time to learn how to speak Svenska and move to Sweden instead...

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