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Let’s “Make the Box Bigger” with File Sharing

March 14, 2011

Millions of music lovers have been “coloring outside the box” for years now in the form of music file-sharing using P2P and other similar methods. The SAC’s solution? Make the box bigger!

By licensing people who want to access music using P2P and other sharing technologies, we bring this massive new use of music into the fold. The revenues would be pooled and performers, songwriters and rights-holders would be paid for their work.

Folks who don’t want to music file-share would pay nothing. That’s one of the key differences between a license fee which the SAC supports, and a tax or levy, which the SAC does not.

Making the box bigger means expanding our idea of what are legitimate ways to acquire music. After all, people are going to use new technologies to access music. Trying to stop them, as some have done for the last 10 years and some continue to try, doesn’t make much sense.

So let’s embrace change. After all, it’s here, and more is on the way.

Eddie Schwartz
21 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2011 12:44 am

    What about the artists who are already thinking outside the box, and using P2P to distribute their music?


    • March 20, 2011 10:31 pm

      Thanks for the question, Wayne.

      The only thing that would change for artists is they would get paid royalties for fans file-sharing their songs just like artists and songwriters are now paid when radio plays their music. P2P would become a distribution system that earned them an income stream and that income would be in direct proportion to how many times their songs are file-shared.



      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter permalink
        May 19, 2011 12:10 pm


        You have a problem with your WordPress installation. If you go to Settings, Discussions, you’ll find that threads are locked at maximum depth of 3. It’s what WordPress set as default for years, and if there’s any real discussion on an issue, it doesn’t work. My suggestion is to set it to 10.


      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter permalink
        May 19, 2011 12:13 pm

        Oh, and you missed my point. The artists that are doing this aren’t looking for royalties. They are looking for promotion, and quite frankly they would prefer if SOCAN would just go away and leave them alone. One of them was told that she had to pay SOCAN to play her own songs in public. Curiously when asked what SOCAN would pay her back, it was far less than she would pay SOCAN.

        So is SOCAN valuable? Possibly to Celine Dion. Not to the people I work with. To them you are a parasitic drag on the system.


    • May 19, 2011 1:18 pm

      Wayne, thanks again for all your comments Wayne. Time does not permit me to address every one of the excellent issues you raise, but I will do my best to respond.

      SOCAN is one of the finest performing rights societies in the world and Canadian songwriters have benefited tremendously from it’s existence and the worldwide network of PROs that collect and distribute performance royalties. Celine Dion is an artist as as such receives no money from SOCAN, only songwriters and music publishers are paid for performances of their work on radio, TV, live venues etc.

      Many songwriters who receive payment from SOCAN find the money useful. In fact, I don’t know anyone of the many thousands who has received royalty cheques from SOCAN to have sent them back.

      The SAC proposal to monetize music file sharing, which is the subject of this article, would pay artists and songwriters as well as rights holders.

      More information on the SAC proposal to monetize music file sharing please go to

      Many thanks again Wayne and all the best


  2. larry c. rogers permalink
    March 15, 2011 8:49 pm

    thank you for post, not sure i fully understand the biz today but your idea of user fee instead of stopping much better, grouping money to pay out is better than nothing at all, i will try and read more on this page of yours. p.s. i don’t ever remember the cassette tax that was charged ever getting to writers and artists so i am opposed to a gov. tax, or levy. thank-you newbie to 21 century music biz. ha-ha larry

    • March 20, 2011 10:34 pm

      Many thanks, Larry. We agree that only people who wish to music file-share should pay the license fee, and that a tax or levy is not the way to go.



  3. Michael Dean Hajas permalink
    April 12, 2011 6:45 pm

    The Canadian Government imposed a “blank media tax” some 10 years ago now. Many fought against this move to no avail. The distribution of this tax is eaten up by bureaucracy and red tape. If an artist isn’t recognized for their Intellectual Property ownership, and a corporation pays for P2p sharing on behalf of their “signed” artist, how is the original creator reimbursed? I believe that a tax based system on media and new media creation would automatically recognize artists who are both signed and unsigned. For instance, SONY has it’s fingers in many pies, including artist development and Research and Development for new products. If the creators of new media were charged a percentage of retail tax, than an automatic pool of tax is available for creators of art. A registry of those who consider themselves “full time”, part-time, or novice could be created and overseen by a governing body of “Peers” CIPO and CIRA have been playing a dangerous game in the current model adhered to, in that, they answer to know one. CIRA was brought to court over “Pending List” releases by the Corporate Players, and of a 6 Billion dollar lawsuit, only 45 million was awarded without Criminal Charge. This award was distributed in the usual manner to those with the biggest pockets first, and once again missed the opportunity to aid those who have struggled in the Canadian market.
    Finally, an Exodus of Canadian talent south of the border, is largely due to the fact that we do not have a Policing Force, that make current infringers responsible for their illegal choice(s), rewarding the efforts of the creators of the IP. Also we have a Bill before the Canadian Government and every time the Government is dissolved, the tabled Bill goes with it. The internet has to have Governance and Fines associated with misuse. Much like alcohol, or driving, a system is in place to determine appropriate behaviour with both, the Global Economy has only made sexual attack on children and fraud a priority (and of course I agree with this priority)!

    The music industry is the most under regulated of all. If I work for Tim Hortons, the Hospital, local school board or Gino’s Pizza, my rights as an individual have value…..however as an artist, we are very sought after by the general populous when their hearts ache, but are devalued by justification when they choose not to reward us for our efforts. There is NO difference between the necessity of our equal talents and time spent, whether it is underneath of a hood fixing cars, flipping burgers or creation of Intellectual Property. This is not a CIVIL matter, but one of moral conduct by Corporate and personal decision.

    Thank you.

    In Spirit

    Michael Dean Hajas

    • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter permalink
      April 19, 2011 5:09 am


      You are missing one important point – currently SOCAN and the other collection agencies are effectively run by the Labels, not the artists. This is because many of the artists were forced to sign over their copyrights to the labels by unfair contracts.

      My suggestion to the Copyright Consultation that copyright be made non-transferable would address this issue. Since the copyright would remain with the artist, there would be no need for corporate involvement with the collection societies. Instead they could, and should be remade so that they are artist collectives.

      Of course the corporate sector will fight this with all of their lobbyists. This isn’t the future that they want. In fact I’m on the list of people that they’d really like to see at the bottom of the Saint Lawrence River wearing concrete overshoes.


      • May 18, 2011 9:49 pm

        Thanks for the comment Wayne. I was a Director of SOCAN for many years and with respect, the labels do not run SOCAN. The board is made up of an equal number of songwriter/composers and music publishers. While it is true that some of the music publishers are owned by some of the same multinationals as record labels, for the most part they are run as independent companies.

        Best regards


    • May 19, 2011 1:37 pm

      Michael, thanks for the comments.

      We at the SAC understand where you are coming from. Our proactive approach is based on the fact that there is no legal way to music file share, and so we create infringers by not offering a legal way to do what so many people want to do: share music. If we offer a legal way to do so, then anti-infringement policies make more sense. In other words, if you couldn’t buy bread, you would have to steal it. Let’s offer people a legal way to share music and compensate creators as a first step towards reducing infringement. For more please refer to the following web site:



      • Michael Dean Hajas permalink
        May 19, 2011 3:59 pm

        Thank you Eddie for your response.

        I’m not convinced that just because we offer a “legal way to file share”, that it would do away with piracy at all. The decision to share an artists creations should be at the discrepancy of the artist, and not the person(s) who want the product. If we took that mentality for every product, then I would waltz into Wal Mart and leave a nickel at the till for every thousand dollars of product, because I want that product, and I believe they are charging to much for it. If this mentality is the basis for SAC’s policy and position on prevention, I would appreciate an intervention meeting to be held with myself to make my position known to the board. WIPO made it’s mandate known to CIPO many years ago in the infancy stage of the internet, because there was no proactive measures taken by the Governing bodies, it is my position to create a unified voice with artisans to take a Class action suite against the organizations in power for not upholding our Charter of Rights. Again I ask, what is the difference in protection by the state, of upholding our intrinsic rights against theft to those who produce the bread.
        A movement of “making example”, which is the current attitude by the USA, would curb the appetites of P2P sharing all together. If the people assuming our rights knew that consequences were applicable with charges and monetary compensation, they would think twice before “stealing the bread”.

        I suggest SAC stops being an enabler, and a good Canadian organization. Reconsider your collective abilities of providing support to those who it charges fee(s) to give the perception of protection. Being a nice guy in a business run by sharks in a Mafia base model will only get people hurt. Try taking a stance like David did against the Giant, if you cower the giant will bring his friends, and it becomes a deal with the Devil. The problem won’t go away, and you’ll just end up feeding the issue.

        Bottom Line…..Theft is theft, by any other name it still smells the same.

        In the Spirit of the Muse
        Michael Dean Hajas

  4. Fraser Lindsay permalink
    May 9, 2011 7:12 am

    Hi Eddie Schwartz: … … this is the URL to a discussion of an article you wrote in the Georgia Straight some time ago … there was a knowledgeable contributor named Denis who furthered my understanding of the ISPs role in this bit torrent P2P licensing … or pay per use of copyright file scenario …( please, if you are interested … ‘check out’ the URL & comments to further understand )… Eddie … am i correct in assuming that SAC’s idea revolves around creating legislation (post bill C32) which will require ISPs to monitor/collect or send billing info to a collective-collection agency … it is complicated with so many levels … Respectfully ! … phrase

    • May 18, 2011 9:53 pm

      Thanks Fraser,

      Actually no legislation would be required. The ISPs could collect from those who wish to be licensed to music file share, deduct a reasonable fee for their trouble and forward the rest to a collective for distribution to artists, songwriters and rights holders. Companies like Big Champagne monitor file sharing and can provide the data needed to make fair distributions.



  5. Michael Dean Hajas permalink
    May 19, 2011 12:46 am

    Hi Eddie!                                                                                                  

    I wanted to have your input on specific issues that I have experienced in the music industry in public forum.   You represent a portion of the “inside info” of what is happening to our art, with that in mind, can you tell me why you responded to the other 8 comments of SAC position and not mine?
    Just imagine for a moment Eddie, what your life would have been like if the corporates decided to love your gift but deny your existence.  How would you have played out your hearts desire to express your inner cry and pay your debts?  

    Positioned in the ring with you, I ask you to go ahead,…..Hit Me With Your Best Shot, FireAway!
     Or perhaps, Pontius Pilate has you by the social ramification of being brutally honest with one who has been persecuted by those in position of power. Almost, as if it were an “old boys club”.

    I eagerly await your response to this and the previous comment.

  6. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter permalink
    May 19, 2011 12:16 pm


    You didn’t address my suggestion that Copyright be made non-transferable except through inheritance. I await your response.


    • May 19, 2011 3:19 pm

      Wayne, although I too would like to protect music creators, at the end of the day I don’t think the government should legislate what you can or cannot sell.

      In the US copyright returns to the songwriter even if they did sell it after 35 years. Maybe that’s a good “middle way” that Canada could adopt.



      • May 27, 2011 1:26 pm


        Government already legislates what you can and cannot sell. Ask your local grocery or pharmacy if you don’t believe me.


  7. June 6, 2011 3:35 pm

    Great Idea Eddie. I appreciate your efforts. As examples, I have had song downloaded in 2006-7-8 that I have not received any fees. I have no way to press the issue either. I feel like a hostage wondering why I keep doing it. Hopefully thru your efforts and those of Bill Henderson and others, this will be corrected in the near future.
    Thank you.

    • Michael Dean Hajas permalink
      June 6, 2011 5:24 pm

      Hey Bill!
      The sad reality is the Government is not intending on protecting us at all. The industry is at “a loss”. Our intellectual properties have been put into a category of “CIVIL MATTER” if individuals take without compensation. Even deeper cuts the knife, look at blockbuster closing 150 stores in Canada, with the majority in Ontario. The reason: piracy. I live up the road from a country farm. They import the field crews from the Caribbean, they refuse to pay for items they know they can get for free. You would think that the Government would see the incentive of lost revenues associated with sales of music and taxation would be enough to motivate, however the reality is the Government is staying out of this “hot topic” even though they were notified several years ago by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). My understanding of what is left of the industry is this: Have your product ready to launch in huge numbers, support with massive co-operative concert tours, try to break even, intercept the PODS coming from China full of knock offs of your product. I know it’s a bugger, and incredibly frustrating. You devote your life to the hopes and dreams of one day making it in the industry. I have returned to the love of creation and abandoned the big pay off. I started writing and performing because of the love of music that is inside, not because of the money and business of it. Keep your chin up, and know your not alone brother!

      Peace to you.

      M. Dean Hajas

      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter permalink
        June 9, 2011 4:11 am


        Horse manure.

        Blockbuster is dying because they can’t compete with ITunes and Netflix. Piracy has nothing to do with it. Blockbuster never did sell much in the way of music anyway, they were heavily into video. Remember the chain name? Blockbuster Video. Kind of gives you a clue, doesn’t it?

        As to the music stores, ITunes killed them. And ITunes is doing fine. Every store you visit is selling ITunes cards for those who don’t have credit cards. Me, I use my credit card. Admittedly I don’t buy much music, I mostly buy apps for my IPad.

        Besides, I’ve got music that no one has ever heard yet. That’s why I bought a copy of Logic Studio. I own my own recording studio, and do recording for some independents. It keeps them free and clear of the CRIA member companies, and makes me a bit of money too.

        Of course that’s one of the reasons that I’m on that opposite side of the ring from Eddie Schwartz. The way the Songwriters Association of Canada has things set up, the independent singer/songwriter is at a disadvantage.


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