Geist on recording industry's 'unparalleled access' to minister

by Saleem Khan, CBC News Online

There's no denying the internet has transformed the way in which we do a lot of things, including how we find and listen to music. Those changes have won fans (usually music lovers both outside and inside the industry) and detractors (usually recording copyright holders and lobbyists) in a struggle to determine how people are allowed to listen to their music.

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist highlights in his blog what he describes as the unparalleled access to federal Heritage Minister Bev Oda recording industry lobbyists enjoy while she fails to meet with Canadian artists who would be affected by proposed copyright legislation reforms.

On his blog, Geist summarizes his statements from a Jan. 22 CBC Radio interview about discrepancies in both the Canadian recording industry's claims and their increasingly isolated positions on digital rights management compared to its international peers and within Canada.

He also links to Canadian Recording Industry Association president Graham Henderson's comments to CBC Radio blaming lack of copyright law reform for his lobby's troubles.

But the most interesting part of Geist's blog post is near the bottom, where he lists CRIA's lobby sessions and private meetings with Oda — including a taxpayer-funded lunch — starting on March 2, 2006.

Now new documents reveal that this was merely the tip of the iceberg. Four weeks later (on April 1st), CRIA hosted a private lunch at the Juno Awards for Bev Oda featuring Henderson and the presidents of the major music labels followed by an artist roundtable. Six weeks after that (on May 16th), Graham Henderson was granted another meeting with Bev Oda, this time to counter the news that the indie labels had left CRIA and that the CMCC [Canadian Music Creators' Coalition] had launched.

The post is worth a read for insight into the Canadian recording industry lobbyists' methods and for ample background on the fight for the right to enjoy music.