Poll: Canucks back copyright protection

MONTREAL — A new poll sponsored by the Canadian recording industry shows 91% of Canadians believe the work of musicians, artists, composers and authors should be protected by copyright to ensure they get paid for their work.

Also, 68% of the respondents feel that regardless of who wins the current federal election in the Great White North, all of the federal parties should commit to enacting stronger copyright legislation to prevent the work of Canadian artists from being traded on Internet peer-to-peer sites like Kazaa.

After seven years of lobbying by the recording and film industries in Canada, the government finally introduced beefed-up copyright protection legislation in the House of Commons in June. But Parliament has yet to vote on the bill, C-60, which has been indefinitely delayed by the current campaign (Canadians go to the polls on Jan. 23).

Recording industry reps in Canada believe the new legislation is woefully inadequate in providing protection against unauthorized downloading.

Canada is considered to be a haven for unauthorized downloading of music because of a pair of landmark court decisions last year. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in June 2004 that Internet service providers do not have to pay royalties to artists and songwriters for illegally downloaded digital music files. In March, the Federal Court ruled that music file-sharing on the Internet was legal and that neither downloading nor sharing digital music files online infringes copyright.

“Canadians overwhelmingly understand that musicians and other artists are harmed by illegal file-swapping and deserve better protection under the law,” said Graham Henderson, president of the Canadian Recording Industry Assn. “It’s time for politicians of all stripes to speak out against theft on the Internet and to speak up about where they stand on this issue.”

A recent study conducted for the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft, a group repping software publishers, reported software piracy costs Canada C$2 billion ($1.7 billion) annually in wage and salary losses.

The record companies also claim unauthorized file-sharing is costing the music biz big bucks. Retail music sales have dropped 40% since 1999 as file-swapping has grown exponentially.

The copyright law survey was conducted by telephone from Dec. 18-20 from a random sample of 1,204 Canadians age 18 and over.

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