Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

A stop sign is seen near Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (BLAIR GABLE/Blair Gable/Reuter)
A stop sign is seen near Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (BLAIR GABLE/Blair Gable/Reuter)

Last chance for copyright extremists to warp Bill C-11 Add to ...

I’ve done this before but it bears repeating that the claims of wealth destruction are bogus. The trick is simple when it comes to the music industry, which in the present case has been bandying about a figure of $800-million dollar as having simply disappeared. That figure has been subsequently recycled by those on the committee, notably by Dean Del Mastro of the Conservatives, who stated on opening day and drawing directly on the lobby group Music Canada: “Over $800-million a year [is]going missing. That’s coming right out of the pockets of artists, and that’s money that’s not being invested in this country (at 1645-50 in the transcripts).”

I have no idea where this figure has been tallied from, but it seems to be a magnification of already circumspect numbers that have been used in the past. The ruse in all this, as I’ve shown in earlier posts, is to take just one part of music industry revenues — recorded music sales (cds, LPs, etc.) — that really have suffered badly, i.e. dropping about $550-million (not $800-million) in the past eight years, and then let this one segment stand for all revenues across the media industries as a whole.

The music business only appears to be in dire straits if you don’t include the recorded-music segment and the three fastest-growing segments of the business: (1) concerts; (2) Internet and mobile phones; (3) publishing rights. Once we do that, the world looks entirely different.

And this is not just the case for the music industry, but the movie industry as well. Again, the following chart helps illustrate the point ( click to zoom in):

Source: MPAA (2011). Theatrical Market Statistics

Source: MPAA (2011). Theatrical Market Statistics.

As with the music industry, these figures for “Box Office Revenues” are only half the matter, actually a little less than half the matter. When we open our eyes wider to look at all revenue sources for the film industry, including pay-per view TV, cable and satellite channels, video rentals, rapidly declining DVD sales and fast-rising new areas such as online subscriptions and digital downloads, the picture changes dramatically.

Doing that, it is clear that the movie business is doing even better than the box-office numbers suggest, rising sharply on worldwide basis from $46.5-billion in 1998 to $87.4-billion in 2010. Table 1 below shows the trend.

Table 1: Worldwide Film Industry Revenues, 1998 – 2010 (US$ Millions)

1998

2000

2004

2008

2009

2010

Change %

46,484

52,803

82,834

82,619

85,137

87,385

+ 88%

Sources: PriceWaterhouseCoopers (2010; 2009; 2003), Global Entertainment and Media Outlook.

The same case can be made for the electronic software and video gaming industries, the constituents of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) and their corporate lobbyists who have also been out their plying their trade, backed by similar dubious assertions.

That their positions are indeed those of radical extremists can be seen by, for example, comparing them with other interests in the mainstream of business thinking, such as the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright. The BCBC group represents most of the major ISPs in Canada (Bell, Rogers, Telus, SaskTel, MTS Allstream), Google, Yahoo, eBay and so forth.

Where the ESA, Canadian Federation of Musicians, Canadian Independent Music Association and copyright lawyers like Mr. Sookman and Mr. Gannon, call for “much stronger and enforceable” notice-and-takedown regime, and graduated responses that would require ISPs to disconnect Internet users accused of repeatedly infringing copyright material, the Business Coalition for Balanced Copyright forcefully rejects “notice-and-takedown and graduated response policies, which would turn intermediaries into ‘copyright police.’ ” The group also rejects such a role being imposed on other digital intermediaries such as Google and social media services.

Single page
 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories