Canada’s music industry lobby group is calling on legislators to block websites that provide access to unauthorized music downloads, and to crack down on search giants like Google that link to those sites.
The move has even led to a spat over pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen, and whether the "Call Me Maybe" singer's Google search results favour pirated sources of her music.
In testimony before Ontario’s committee on finance and economic affairs last week, Music Canada president Graham Henderson argued that the online “landscape is littered with illegal services that do not pay artists or copyright owners. Many of them appear to be legitimate to the consumer, and they’re aided by Google. Google search results obscure the simple existence of legal sources of music.”
In a blog post last month, Henderson called for “judicious and reasonable regulation of the internet” to reduce unauthorized sharing of music.
“The actions taken by courts in other jurisdictions have very reasonably required ISPs to block websites that are almost entirely dedicated to the theft of intellectual property,” he wrote. “This hurts no one but those that seek to profit from the exploitation of the creative class.”
Henderson noted Google’s “lamentable lack of support for initiatives in this area.”
Internet and e-commerce law expert Michael Geist, who first drew attention to Henderson’s comments, pointed out that digital music sales are growing in Canada, with music track sales up 2 per cent and album sales up 9 per cent in the past year. He also noted that Ontario has launched a $45-million fund to aid the music industry.
But Henderson argues that’s hardly enough.
“While digital sales have grown significantly, they are not enough to make up for lost physical sales,” he told the Queen’s Park committee. “Revenues from the digital market are on a completely different scale from those derived from CDs.”
He also linked digital piracy to growing income inequality, noting that musicians’ incomes have been falling even as search giants like Google have been earning millions from serving ads on results pages that link to pirated music.
“We now live in a world where a very few musicians have become fabulously wealthy, leaving almost everyone else with very little on the table. Was not digital technology supposed to have done exactly the opposite?”
But Henderson saved his harshest criticisms for Google, telling the committee that:
One of the biggest problems we have is that consumers cannot find legal services on Google. Type in: “Carly Rae Jepsen”; pick your song; press “search.” You would have to look to page seven of the results to find iTunes. Before you get there, you have six and a half pages littered with illegal sites which are constantly being taken down and constantly being put back.
Geist begs to differ.
I tried replicating Henderson's claims regarding Google and arrived at much different results. Searching for Carly Rae Jepsen and the song Call Me Maybe, the very first result was a music video posted by Jepsen's label which receives royalties and has a link to the iTunes version for purchase. Other top results include Jepsen's own website (with links to iTunes sales of her songs) and licensed streaming versions of the song, which all appear before ‘infringing sites.’
The Huffington Post's own Google search for "Carly Rae Jepsen" did not bring up any unauthorized sources of her music on the first three pages of search results.
The federal government passed a new copyright law last year that created a "notice and notice" system, requiring ISPs to warn customers accused of unauthorized sharing. The law set civil liability for copyright infringement at $20,000 if the piracy was for commercial purposes, and $5,000 for non-commercial purposes.
However, that law could be superseded by the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal being negotiated between Canada and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, which — according to leaked early drafts of the deal — could include a very strong chapter on copyright protection.
The deal could require the government to take steps to disconnect repeat copyright infringers from the internet, and could also provide for the sort of website blocking Music Canada is calling for.
According to some sources, the government of Canada may be backing down in its opposition to the copyright measures. But other reports suggest that is not the case, and the U.S. is isolated in its effort to push for the copyright measures.
20. Arcade Fire - "Afterlife"
Easily the most Arcade Fiery song on the Montreal superstars' new record "Reflektor", this Win Butler and Regine Chassagne duet is also the song that best earns its dancefloor fuel. Reminiscent of "No Cars Go" in its eventual intensity, the metaphysically-minded "Afterlife" is a back-of-the-arena epic that’s also purpose-built to turn countless house parties into arms-up living room ragers.
19. Janelle Monáe ft. Miguel - "PrimeTime"
There's been a lot of attention paid to R&B's blue-eyed soul singers this year, which makes this rising-star duet between Janelle and Miguel all the more powerful. But that's not what makes it so damn good. That slow, spacey and endlessly sultry soundscape surrounds their virtuosic, intertwining vocals like a love den, making it crystal clear these two players are more than ready for prime time.
18. Mikal Cronin - "Weight"
It's not easy to nail a throwback tune that doesn't sound dated, but San Francisco garage-popper (and Ty Segall associate) Mikal Cronin does just that with this fuzzy, jangly earworm fittingly focused on the theme of fearing change. "Weight" also incongruously sounds light as a distortion peddle-propelled feather.
17. Mike Will Made It - "23"
Though destined to be remembered as that song where Miley moved from twerking to rapping, there's a reason Atlanta producer Mike Will gets top billing on this posse cut, also featuring Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J. His sizzurp-slow beats and psychedelic synths give this woozy ode to Air Jordans its three-point swish. Still, Cyrus easily surpasses low expectations, ably ball handling the hook and a few bars of badass boasting and shout-outs to Naughty By Nature and MC Hammer, old-schoolers whose hits landed before she was born.
16. Basement Jaxx - "Mermaid Of Salinas"
It was ages after the release that I discovered the joys of this under-promoted Basement Jaxx B-side that is among the best tracks the long-running eclectic house act has ever produced. Heavy on the Spanish influence, as its Ibizan-derived title portends, Felix Buxton and Simon Ratcliffe's sunshiney single practically transports you to their beachside hotbox.
15. Charli XCX - "You (Ha Ha Ha)"
Charli XCX, Britain's 21-year-old electropop wunderkind, boasts "you were old-school and I was on the new shit" and then pulls off both on this edgy yet accessible break-up banger. Mixing lush synths and thumping beats, casual cursing and sarcastic insouciance, that bracketed laughter is actually the sound of a pop star being born.
14. Daft Punk (Feat. Julian Casablancas) - "Instant Crush"
Only recently getting released as a single, this mid-tempo, rock-influenced dance track is bound to be lost amidst the still-looming shadow of "Get Lucky." But this second-best song on "Random Access Memories" is a fantastic track in its own right. The production's grand, but "Instant Crush" goes from like to love thanks to its robot-in-love falsetto from Julian Casablancas, delivering a charmer of a vocal that outshines anything on recent Strokes' records.
13. Tegan And Sara - "Closer"
Unimaginably far from the Canadian sister act's indie folk origins and yet unmistakably familiar, too, Tegan & Sara complete their evolution into the thinking-person's pop act (not named Robyn) with this synth smash. "Closer" is also a casually sexy same-sex love song that never panders or overplays its hand. It's pop, sure, but don't treat it like it's typical.
12. Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX - "I Love It"
Co-written with electro "it" girl Charlie XCX, Swedish synth duo Icona Pop's chant of a litany of terrible things they care so little about that they actually love them, hits every bull’s-eyes at once. That this propulsive buzzsaw of a pop song soundtracked “Girls,” “Glee,” “Vampire Diaries” and “Snooki and JWoww," is a testament to the relatability of its aggressively upbeat F-U.
11. J. Cole ft. Miguel - "Power Trip"
J. Cole's "Born Sinner" is among the year's most underrated but that's what happens when you drop an album on the same day as Kanye's "Yeezus". It may have been a bold, if ultimately foolhardy decision but the album's standout track is Cole's collaboration with rising avant-R&B star Miguel, an epic hip-hop slow jam with Kris-Kross references calling out its own clichés -- something we need more of in this world.
10. Pharrell Williams - "Happy"
Pharell Williams has had a year -- when people weren't talking about Miley, for whom he produced, they were arguing about whether "Blurred Lines" or "Get Lucky" were the song of the summer. He even did production work on Beyonce's surprise album. No wonder he nabbed 7 Grammy nominations. These were all reason to be happy, an emotion Pharell channelled on this solo joint, connected to kiddie cartoon "Despicable Me 2", that turned out to be one of the most blissfully cheerful song in years. His 24-hour video only made it that much better.
9. Drake ft. Majid Jordan - "Hold On, We're Going Home"
Drake first made his mark as a singer-rapper, even though he wasn't that great at the former. R&B favours virtuosos, and Drizzy never compared to friends like The Weeknd or idols like Aaliyah. But with "Hold On," he finally laid down vocals as strong as his rapping. It helps that the 80s-inspired production is also the smoothest track he's ever had the opportunity to croon over. Drake may be going home, but this song isn't going anywhere.
8. Lorde - "Royals"
This song got so big, it's easy to forget how strange it is. In an era of EDM maximalism infusing pop and hip-hop, a number one single that rides finger snaps, echo and a very faint dubstep womp is pretty startling. As are Lorde's anti-materialism lyrics, which slams "aspirational" wealth-flaunting during a time of ugly income inequality. The fact that she was only 16 when this came out just makes it that much more impressive. Bow down.
7. Pusha T - "Numbers On The Boards"
Clipse is dead, but the skeletal, wintry aesthetic of the cult coke-rap duo lives on in member Pusha T's solo single. Over an experimental, Bunny Sigler-sampling Kanye production that could have come off "Yeezus," Pusha continues to turn drug-dealing into poetry thanks to his ice-cold delivery, hyper-specific imagery and bruised knuckle boasts like the one about his birthday marking "36 years of doing dirt like it's Earth Day."
6. Disclosure ft. AlunaGeorge - "White Noise"
EDM may have taken over the summer festival circuit, but there was more to dance music in 2013 than cookie-cutter glowstick anthems. British garage-house duo Disclosure blew up with their debut album, netting a Grammy nom, riding the momentum of this bubbling, back-to-the-future single with London peers AlunaGeorge that ignores big bass drops in favour of wide-screen hip-shaking and perfect high-pitched, play-rough vocals.
5. Justin Timberlake - "Mirrors"
Justin Timberlake dipped into plenty of genres for his two-part "20/20 Experience" album, but "Mirrors" was JT returning to his power ballad wheelhouse. Like "Cry Me A River" and "What Goes Around / Comes Around," this is an anthemic home run. Justin's rhythmic sing-along vocals and Timbaland's restrained, yet dramatic strings-flecked soundscape -- especially when the beats drops out in favour of audience-participation handclaps -- makes "Mirrors" feel both intimate and big enough to fill iPhone-lit stadiums.
4. Miley Cyrus - "We Can't Stop"
Pop songs are ephemeral, meant to supply instant-gratification and then fade away to make room for the next hit. But Miley's spring smash somehow sounds better now than when it came out. Much credit is due to Mike Will's signature narcotic production which maintains a powerfully slow, if awfully addled, pace for a so-called party anthem. That, and the admitted rush of hearing Hanna Montana's country-flecked power vocals making winking drug references while declaring independence with the eminently quotable: "we run things, things don't run we."
3. Kanye West - "Black Skinhead"
A literally panting beat, flecked with First Nations chanting and industrial distortion, is the menacing musical-slash-martial embodiment of Yeezus getting his "scream on." But Kanye's lacerating lyrics about America's infuriatingly inherent racism are where West really rages against the machine.
2. Drake - "Started From The Bottom"
That chime and shuffling, off-kilter beat provide the indelible foundation of Drake's "don't call it a comeback" moment, in which the respect-seeking rapper resets the clock with this tough statement of purpose. Filled with countless quotables, undramatic upbringing rhymes and an aspirational chorus that everyone can still relate to, Drake made the ensuing argument over where said "bottom" began is utterly irrelevant now that we here.
1. Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams - "Get Lucky"
The short answer as to why "Get Lucky" is number one is that the song is perfect. The slightly longer one is that its retro-futurism frees it from being tied to any particular time period, meaning it will remain with us forever, while its rare amalgamation of musical geniuses -- Pharell's light, charming falsetto, Nile Rodgers' definition-of-disco guitar, Daft Punk's Franco-robotic musicality -- made it sound like a classic the very first time you heard it and the song's lost none of its lustre since.
50 More Best Songs Of 2013
Rudimental ft. John Newman - "Feel The Love"
Vampire Weekend - "Diane Young"
Jessy Lanza - "Pull My Hair Back"
Avicii - "Wake Me Up"
James Blake - "Retrograde"
Big Sean ft. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica - "Control"
Blue Hawaii - "Daisy"
Sky Ferreira - "You're Not The One"
Nine Inch Nails - "Came Back Haunted"
HAIM - "The Wire"
Washed Out - "It All Feels Right"
Calvin Harris (feat. Ellie Goulding) - "I Need Your Love (Nicky Romero Remix)"
Janelle Monáe - "Dance Apocalyptic"
Savages - "Shut Up"
Selena Gomez - "Come & Get It"
JAY Z ft. Justin Timberlake - "Holy Grail"
Charles Bradley - "Victim of Love"
Chvrches - "We Sink"
Danny Brown ft. Purity Ring - "25 Bucks"
Pusha T ft. Kendrick Lamar - "Nosetalgia"
The Knife - "Full Of Fire"
Jessie Ware - "Imagine It Was Us"
Young Galaxy - "New Summer"
A$AP Ferg ft. A$AP ROCKY - "Shabba" (Explicit)
Lana Del Rey vs Cedric Gervais - "Summertime Sadness"
Kanye West ft. Frank Ocean - "New Slaves"
Mikky Ekko - "Pull Me Down"
Justin Timberlake - "Take Back The Night"
Autre Ne Veut ft. Mykki Blanco - "Counting"