The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), expected to be ratified by all three federal governments by late November, replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), includes a positive change for Canadian songwriters and composers. The term for copyrighted works has been extended to the life of the author plus 70 years, in line with most of Canada’s trading partners, at least 75 countries, including the U.S., Australia, and European Union. The current term is life plus 50 years.
Four national music organizations issued statements, praising the deal: The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN); The Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA); Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and The Canadian Independent Music Association.
Performing rights organization SOCAN, which represents 150,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers, issued a statement that it was “delighted” about the pending deal. “Today is a great day for Canadian creators,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. “SOCAN would like to thank the Canadian government for its efforts to defend the interests of the Canadian cultural sector and to provide greater protection for our creators.”
CMRRA — which “acts as an agent” for more than 6,000 music publishers and self-published songwriters, representing more than 80,000 music catalogs and millions of songs — issued a statement saying it “wholeheartedly thanks” the Canadian Government for extending the term of copyright.
“On behalf of CMRRA’s rightsholders, I fervently congratulate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister Chrystia Freeland, the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez and Minister Navdeep Bains on this most welcomed and long-awaited decision,” said CMRRA president Caroline Rioux.
Also in a statement, CMPA executive director Margaret McGuffin said “Canada’s music publishers and their songwriting partners welcome the trade agreement reached between the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico (USMCA). We believe the USMCA deal works in the best interest of all Canadians including the millions of Canadians whose livelihoods depend on a modern legal framework for copyright protection and all of those who enjoy their work.” It also went on to “commend Canada’s government.”
The organizations also praised the terms of the new trade deal that preserves exemptions for the cultural industries.
CIMA’s statement also congratulated the PM and various ministers, detailing “The renegotiation of the new NAFTA agreement was a potential cause of great concern for the cultural sector. However, CIMA acknowledges the tenacity of our Canadian negotiators, political leaders and the significant mobilization of the Canadian cultural sector that lead to the continued protection of cultural industries in the new agreement.
“Canada was able to maintain its cultural sovereignty through the continuation of our Cultural Exemption, which is essential for the future of the sector in the digital age. It will, among other things, allow Canada to maintain music support mechanisms such as Canadian Content regulations and the Canada Music Fund, without challenges from our trading partners.”
The statement also applauded the change to copyright life, including the term of copyright for performances and sound recordings, which will be increased to 75 years after the release date, up from the 70 years minimum.
“We are thankful that the Canadian government values the professional and diverse cultural content produced in our country,” said CIMA president Stuart Johnston, CIMA president. “Existing government measures, which are protected by the cultural exemption, support and strengthen the Canadian independent music industry and allows the industry to continue to succeed both at home and on the global stage. Extending copyright protections will only serve to enhance the value of our sector and will rightfully protect the music of our talented artists, songwriters and composers.”