Over the last few years the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have led a campaign of fear against file sharers in North America, instilling a worry of reprisal in all but the most naive users of P2P software such as Kazaa, Soulseek and Limewire, to name but three. In late January, Canadian-based industry giant Nettwerk Music Group, which manages everyone from Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan to Sum 41 and Swollen Members, announced its decision to go to bat against the RIAA in a Texas case that sees one David Greubel accused of sharing up to 600 songs found on the family’s computer.
For Canadians, many questions regarding file sharing remain unanswered to this day. "CRIA did file suit against 29 alleged file sharers in 2004, but that action was unsuccessful," said University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist, Canada’s leading authority on Internet and copyright matters. "I think the Conservatives may seek to take a second look at copyright policy. That could have the effect of delaying the introduction of new copyright legislation."
Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride echoed this uncertainty – "that it is still to be decided by the courts, as it’s unclear" whether Canadians are allowed to download and share music via the Internet. Incredibly, McBride maintains that even though his company "has been hurt, especially in catalogue sales… the current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists’ best interests."
"The future [of the music industry will be led by] the fan and how that fan wants to consume their music," asserts McBride. "Some will want a physical product, others will want a more portable digital version and some will simply want to subscribe to a ‘service’ through a mobile device and have access to millions of songs. We feel that the latter two are the future."