Canadian Songwriters Association Pushes for $10 File-sharing Fee

Canadian Songwriters Association Pushes for $10 File-sharing Fee
Whether you're an avid iTunes user or one of those soulless, evil illegal downloaders, the online music marketplace may be headed for a massive shift in Canada, as the Songwriters Association of Canada is once again pushing for a flat fee to be added to monthly Internet bills that would allow for unlimited downloading.

According to a National Post report, the group has been in talks with a number of Internet providers to incorporate a $10 fee on monthly invoices. With that in place, Internet users would be allowed to download an unlimited amount of content from P2P networks.

"All of the rights that we need are actually already in Canada's copyright laws," said Eddie Schwartz, president of Songwriters Association of Canada. "We thought, 'all we need to do is come up with a private business model that monetizes file-sharing.' That's what we set out to do, modify the [original] proposal so that there was a private way to achieve the same results without needing to get legislation."

Of course, the songwriters only make up a fraction of the industry, and Canadian record labels could be in danger if a proposal like this was approved. Still, Schwartz insists that this is the best way to combat illegal file-sharing in Canada, writing in his proposal that "The surest and swiftest way to dramatically reduce infringement is to give consumers an authorized way to music-file share. Once such an authorized system is in place, consumers who refuse to pay a reasonable licence fee will clearly be choosing to infringe and can be dealt with accordingly."

In 2007, the Songwriters Association of Canada lobbied for a Canadian Copyright Act amendment that would have seen similar fees enforced on consumers. However, the group met strong opposition from consumer groups and ISPs and did not succeed in enforcing the mandatory fee.

CORRECTION: In the original version of this article, we referred to the Songwriters Association of Canada as SOCAN, naming Eddie Schwartz as the president of SOCAN. He is not. The two organizations are entirely different organizational bodies, and we apologies for the error.