Copyright in Canada – Time to Revisit the Subject


Copyright Symbol, courtesy Wikimedia
Copyright Symbol, courtesy Wikimedia

Back to Copyright. Why? Because a member of the now defunct Balanced Copyright for Canada Facebook Group, who happened to be working for EMI at the time, has asked me to take a post down that quotes him.

I have no idea why he wants me to remove the post. What matters is that the issue I was writing about at that time still exists, and has probably gotten worse.

How has it gotten worse? At the time I argued that the requests of the Major Labels for payments from Cloud Music Lockers, impinged on the rights of non-label artists. If I have a locker, and none of the music in my locker is from a Major Label artist, why should the Labels get to collect?

Things have gotten worse. Amazon, Apple, and Google have each signed secret contracts with the Labels. What is in these contracts, the independent artists, and the smaller labels don’t know. They don’t know how these contracts impact them, and make no mistake – these contracts are having an impact.

Jeff Thistle is refusing to answer my questions. He has that right. He also has the right to make a fool of himself in public, by not answering.

I have no idea why Jeff decided to make a fuss now. All I can do is make guesses. EMI was sold to Universal Music in November 2011 (here’s a New York Times story about the deal). Jeff appears to have either removed his LinkedIN account, or made it private. He appears to have done the same thing with his Facebook account. No searches using his name and EMI or Universal Music bring up any hits, other than my article, and the article Techdirt published based on mine.

This is curious. When I was working as a Major Accounts Sales Representative, and dealing with firms that made EMI look like a corner store, my name showed up all over the Internet. It’s damned hard not to leave a trail.

I checked the Google cache, and it has this about Jeff’s old LinkedIN account:

Toronto, Canada Area – ‎Director, New Media at EMI Music Canada

View Jeff Thistle’s (Canada) professional profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s largest business network, helping professionals like Jeff Thistle discover 

Jeff was Director of New Media. A “Director” is higher up the food chain than a sales rep. He also claimed on Techdirt to be building web apps for EMI. No searches for “Jeff Thistle Web Apps” pulled up any hits, other than the Techdirt article, where he made that statement in a reply.

So why is he so invisible? There are two possible reasons.

One, unlike me, he might be the private sort. I’m not quite as insane as the Kardashians, but I do tend to lead a somewhat public life. All of my Social Media accounts are as wide open as possible.

Two? I’m not going to tell you. If Jeff wants privacy, that’s his choice.

But I’ve got some inquiries out. I’ve always had fairly decent lines of communications with the Canadian Labels. They may not like me, but that’s business, not personal. I back the Indie artists ferociously (in fact I do recording work for some of them). The Labels don’t. Which leaves room for me to pick up money they aren’t interested in, and for me to try and win some of the bigger players over eventually to working with me, not them.

Which doesn’t change the most important point. The Major Labels have deals with the Cloud Music Locker companies. I strongly suspect that those deals are:

  1. Not in the best interest of the Indies
  2. Interfere with the Indies ability to do business
  3. May not be legal under Anti-Trust laws

Now I could be totally wrong about all three issues, but since the contracts are secret, and no one will show me them, I have to assume the worst.


Wayne Borean

Friday August 16, 2013

PS: One of the tags on this post is “Politics”, it is there because Politics is always a political issue.


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  1. When they shut down the label we thought, “Okay, that’s it, we missed our shot. How will we ever pick up these pieces?” The only real success we’d had on EMI came from opening for Toad The Wet Sprocket on their “fan appreciation tour” in the Spring of ’97. We’d only had one radio station in Fargo add “Sex and Candy” into rotation. They loved the track, and so did their listeners. They were doing really well with it but, for whatever reason, the label was unable to convert that yardage into points – so that’s where we were. We were done for and stuck in Sacramento … or, that’s what we thought. Because, as luck would have it, about the same time EMI was closing, Chris Muckley, the music director at 91X in San Diego had begun spinning “Sex and Candy” on his show, and was getting a huge response from listeners that shocked even him. Within the first week it was Top Five Phones – top five most requested song at the station – and within two weeks it was the number-one-most-requested song on 91X. And this is a big station. 91X has a listening audience that goes all the way from San Diego to Los Angeles, reaching tens of millions of people. At the time Capitol Records (L.A.), and Virgin Records (NYC) were each deciding which EMI’s contracts they were going to pick up, which they had the option to do. In our case, due to the success 91X was having with “Sex and Candy,” that August in 1997, we were moved over to Capitol Records, where the machine went into total overdrive on our album. So, we kept touring, and picking up stations, and by the time the charts locked out in December for the holidays, “Sex and Candy” was the #1 song in the country on Billboard’s Modern Rock chart. And it stayed there at #1 for 15 consecutive weeks.

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