Canada’s continued development of world-class musicians is in jeopardy as the country is mired in sky-high piracy rates and lack of cooperation between Internet service providers and music companies, John Kennedy, chairman of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said today at Canadian Music Week.

“The lack of interest in intellectual property by the Canadian government is truly astonishing,” says Kennedy, who participated in a industry forum this morning at Toronto's Royal York Hotel.

When asked why the film industry had been more successful in lobbying the Canadian government than the music business, Kennedy said that was because job cuts in recording companies had come over a period of time. The film business, with the looming presence of the Motion Picture Association of America, successfully lobbied for the so-called “anti-camcording” bill in 2007. In more than a decade, the music industry has not been successful in replacing Canada’s antiquated Copyright Act.

“I think we didn’t get a lot of notice because our job cuts were sliced up like salami over 10 years,” Kennedy says.

Kennedy says one of his main concerns is the lack of new Canadian talent capturing attention domestically and internationally. He noted that according to Nielsen Soundscan, only two of the Top 20 selling albums in Canada – Nickelback and Quebec’s Lost Fingers – were created by domestic acts.

“This is becoming a problem because you are losing your best acts,” he says.

But Kennedy is not without hope that the Canadian music industry could catch up with reforms similar to those being witnessed in the United Kingdom and France that are designed to curtail illegal file sharing.

“I think [Canada] can make up ground given the high level of digital high speed broadband penetration,” he says. “But businesses have to see a decline in piracy so they can make a return on their investments.”

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