Two months after the Conservative government’s Economic Action Plan 2015 for Canada included its intention to amend the Copyright Act from 50 years to 70 years, the bill has been given royal assent and is now law. That ensures that song records will enjoy copyright royalties from early works well into their senior years.
Now songs such as Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Universal Soldier” — released 50 years ago this August — are no longer in danger of entering the public domain.
“In extending the term of copyright in recorded music, Prime Minister Harper and the Government of Canada have demonstrated a real understanding of music’s importance to the Canadian economy. Thank you. We are thrilled to see Canada brought in line with the international standard of 70 years,” Music Canada president Graham Henderson said in a statement posted to its web site.
More than 60 countries — including all of Europe, the U.S. and Australia — protect copyright in sound recordings for 70-year terms or longer.
Music Canada is the non-profit trade organization (formerly the Canadian Recording Industry Association) representing the interests of companies that record, manufacture, produce, promote and distribute music. Without the 20-year term extension for sound recordings, early material by such artists as Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell and Anne Murray would have been public domain over the next five years.
“I’m still releasing albums, but my fans love my older songs. Thanks to the federal government for the recent legislation. Its passage will make sure the sun doesn’t go down on my early songs,” Gordon Lightfoot said in a statement, via Music Canada.
In the economic plan tabled in April in the House of Commons by the Honourable Joe Oliver, P.C., M.P. Minister of Finance, it spelled out why the extension was necessary:
“The mid-1960s were an exciting time in Canadian music, producing many iconic Canadian performers and recordings. While songwriters enjoy the benefits flowing from their copyright throughout their lives, some performers are starting to lose copyright protection for their early recordings and performances because copyright protection for song recordings and performances following the first release of the sound recording is currently provided for only 50 years.
“Economic Action Plan 2015 proposes to amend the Copyright Act to extend the term of protection of sound recordings and performances from 50 to 70 years following the first release of the sound recording. This will ensure that performers and record labels are fairly compensated for the use of their music for an additional 20 years.”