The president of ole, Canada's largest independent music publisher with more than 40,000 songs and 35,000 hours of television music, has criticized the current proposed legislation to modernize the nation's Copyright Act.

In a statement, Toronto-based Michael McCarty says that Bill C-32 will "fail to fix" the artists' biggest compensatory problem: to hold responsible those who profit from illegal downloading.

"The vast majority of music consumed on the Internet - over 90% - is pirated," says McCarty. "When music is pirated, the artists don't get paid, but the ISPs, search engines, advertisers, websites and device manufacturers do... Not only will Bill C-32 fail to fix this, it will actually ensure that these companies never have to pay."

McCarty agrees with the majority of the artists and industry members that the private copying right should be extended to MP3 players, which "will lead to everyone in the value chain, including artists, being financially rewarded while still delivering great value to consumers."

He adds that Bill C-32 "guts the two most digitally-savvy provisions in the current Copyright Act - the Broadcast Mechanical Tariff and the Private Copying provision." He puts the value of that decision at a $30 million Canadian ($29.2 million) loss per year for music creators and rights holders.

"It is difficult to understand how the government can claim to support fair compensation to artists when it is taking money out of their pockets," McCarty says.

He points out anti-piracy measures in Bill C-32 that have "mostly failed" in other countries.

"The government mimics certain U.S. copyright concepts which encourage copyright owners to sue in an attempt to stop illicit downloading," he says. "There is no reason to believe similar legislation in Canada will be anything but a failure as well - except for those who profit from piracy," he says.

Artists Want MP3 Levy

His comments coincided with a call from hundreds of Canadian artists, including members of Nickelback, Hot Hot Heat, Metric and the Tragically Hip, to impose a levy on MP3 players.

The artists signed a letter via the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) that was delivered to the Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa. Addressed to Tony Clement, Minister of Industry James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage, it comes during a crucial stage of Bill C-32, the country's Copyright Modernization Act, where a Committee representing all the political parties will debate every clause in the bill.

The letter begins by thanking them for their efforts to update the law and an acknowledgment that "we are pleased with some aspects of the proposed new copyright legislation, Bill C-32, such as how it would legalize the everyday activity of copying music to MP3 players like the iPod," before presenting the Collective's position, outlining how the revenue from the current levy is drying up because of the antiquated law.

Copying to blank CDs has vastly declined. The blank CD levy, imposed in 1997, is 29 cents Canadian (28 cents) per unit.

The CPCC, established in 1999, is a non-profit agency representing songwriters, recording artists, music publishers and record companies charged with collecting and distributing private copying royalties.

"By leaving the private copying levy as is, applying to blank media such as CDs, you obviously recognize that these copies have value," the letter reads. "Why would you not take the technologically neutral approach and extend it to MP3 players? ... MP3 players are this generation's version of blank media. A copy is a copy and the principle of fair compensation for rights holders should apply whether the copy is made onto blank media or MP3 players.

"Please be fair and extend to us the same consideration you have shown consumers by protecting our interests alongside theirs."