U.S. President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have agreed to ratify a new trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which will likely have direct consequences for the music industry.
The proposed trade agreement includes “Safe Harbor” copyright liability exceptions for certain online services, which is causing concern for many music publishers. On the positive side, though, the agreement extends copyright terms in Canada for 20 years, meaning that the copyright of a song there will be valid during the life of the songwriter plus an additional 70 years.
Before coming into effect, the new agreement still needs to be ratified by the U.S. Congress as well as by the legislatures of both Canada and Mexico.
Many music industry leaders have commented on the new deal.
John Phelan, who is the director general of the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), said, “This deal is as crucial for the music industry as it is complex. We would warmly welcome the prospect of copyright term in Canada – it’s vital that term there arrives at a level which is standard worldwide.”
But he added, “[T]he copyright exemptions for certain online services are a troubling trait of trade talks. The industry has made every effort to provide digital music and drive its value for songwriters and composers. So-called ‘Safe Harbours’ risk real regress on music’s value – something we’ll continue to be vigilant about.”
David Israelite, who is the president and CEO of the National Music Publishers Association, echoed Phelan’s concerns by saying that they “remain concerned that the DMCA safe harbors in the agreement continue to devalue creators’ work and protect Internet service providers who should be doing more to prevent piracy and infringement.”
Brittain Ashford, who is the executive director of the Music Publishers Association of the United States, focused on the positive aspects of the agreement by saying that they were “heartened by the emphasis on increased protection for intellectual property in the new agreement, which will be a significant help in resolving some long-standing problems in the North American music market.”