Net music sales in Canada declined in 2005 by C$23 million ($20.3 million), or 4%, to $608.7 ($553.4 million) million, the Canadian Recording Industry Assn. reported today (March 2).

Net music sales in Canada declined in 2005 by C$23 million ($20.3 million), or 4%, to $608.7 ($553.4 million) million, the Canadian Recording Industry Assn. reported today (March 2).

The decline, says CRIA in a statement, "resumes an almost decade-long spiral paralleling the rise of music file-swapping on the Internet."

According to the trade body, P2P file-swapping continues unabated in Canada, with an estimated 1.6 billion music files shared online annually.

New music figures released today for Canada came with a warning from the head of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry that Canada is being left behind in the fast-growing digital music business worldwide.

"It's astonishing that a sophisticated nation like Canada has dragged its feet for so long while the rest of the world has adapted its copyright laws to the digital age," says John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of the IFPI. "The digital music world is moving on -- Canada must move with it, or its whole music culture will suffer."

The IFPI 2006 "Digital Music Report" shows that Canada is losing out by not updating its copyright laws to protect intellectual property in the digital environment, as have its major trading partners.

Canada's music industry has long been impatient that the Canadian government has failed to ratify two World Intellectual Property Organization treaties signed in 1997. The two treaties, the Performances and Phonogram Treaty and the Copyright Treaty, deal with copyright protection in the digital age.

While Canadian voters put an end to 12 years of Liberal Party rule on Jan. 22, Canada's music industry now hopes that the newly-elected minority Conservative Party will overhaul the country's outdated copyright laws, as started by the Liberals.

Following a report on copyright reform by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in 2004, the Liberals had introduced Bill C-60 in the House of Commons in June 2005. Bill C-60, a Liberal government initiative to protect intellectual property online through amendments to the Copyright Act, died on the Order Paper with the last Parliament due to an election being called, and without being referred to committee hearings.

New copyright legislation now has to be redrafted by the Conservatives, and be reintroduced to Parliament.

"As legal downloading surges ahead in other parts of the world, Canada is marooned on the sidelines," says CRIA president Graham Henderson. "The goal of a vibrant digital marketplace in Canada will remain beyond reach until our legal environment encourages people to buy music instead of passively accepting theft on the Web."

Adds Kennedy, "I hope that Canada will now embrace the digital music sector, follow the example of its international trading partners and move to implement the long overdue copyright reforms on which its artists, music producers and the whole creative economy depend."