Drake and Shania Twain are among the Canadian artists who have joined the Songwriters Association of Canada in petitioning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other government figures to change the country’s copyright law to give more power to artists and songwriters.
Their proposed change would let creators and their families regain ownership of their copyrights 25 years after the date of transfer, instead of 25 years after the creator’s death, as currently specified in the country’s copyright act.
The letter dated June 2 notes that early in their careers, artists and songwriters are often pressured into signing away some of their rights, “thus denying creators, their families and their children the opportunity to reap fair rewards from their creative works later in life.” It also notes that in the U.S., copyright law has been revised to let creators terminate and re-claim rights after 35 years from the date of transfer — a provision known as the right of reversion — while the EU is presently considering rules to ensure similar fairness.
“We believe Canada should follow the EU and USA examples to ensure fair protection of Canadian creators,” the letter reads. “Rights reversion is a simple and essential tool which enhances creators ability to contribute to Canadian cultural and economic development.”
The letter is also signed by Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Rock, Robbie Robertson, Celine Dion, Neil Young, Geddy Lee, Shawn Mendes, Joni Mitchell, Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne, Paul Anka, Alanis Morissette, Michael Buble, Bob Ezrin, Diana Krall and Randy Backman, among others.
Along with Trudeau, the letter is addressed to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne; the Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault; and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage Julie Dabrusin.
Read the letter in full below.
Dear Prime Minister, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretary,
We, the undersigned, call upon the Government of Canada to introduce an amendment to section 14(1) of the Copyright Act which would enable creators to reclaim copyright rights (“rights reversion”) 25 years after the date of a transfer rather than 25 years after the creator’s date of death, as currently specified in the Act.
It’s common for creators (i.e. songwriters), especially early in their careers, to be pressured into signing away (“transferring”) some or all of their rights, thus denying creators, their families and their children the opportunity to reap fair rewards from their creative works later in life;
As a remedy, many European governments have amended copyright law to ensure the fairness of contracts between creators and those who use and exploit their works. The European Union is presently considering EU-wide rules to ensure such fairness;
There is a “rights reversion” provision in United States copyright law which allows creators to terminate “transfers” and re-claim rights 35 years after the date of the transfer;
We believe Canada should follow the EU and USA examples to ensure fair protection for Canadian creators;
The federal government has publicly stated on a number of occasions that it supports Canadian creators;
Rights reversion is a simple and essential tool which enhances creators’ ability to contribute to Canadian cultural and economic development;
We’re asking that the words “25 years from the death of the author” be removed from the Act and replaced with “25 years from the date of copyright transfer.”