SOCAN Exemption Policy

If you think that your event might be exempt from paying SOCAN licence fees, please check the following information to find out for certain, and to learn about the provisions covering such events in the Canadian Copyright Act.

Performances in Furtherance of Religious, Educational or Charitable Objects

Section 32.2(3) of the Copyright Act creates an exemption in respect of performances in public of a musical work by religious, charitable or fraternal organizations and educational institutions. Such organizations are exempt from paying compensation for doing a performance in public of a musical work where the performance is in furtherance of religious, educational or charitable objects. These exemptions are based on the purpose of the performance and is not a blanket exemption for a religious, charitable or fraternal organization.

Where the exemption applies, the organization or institution is not liable to pay SOCAN licence fees for that performance. Where the exemption does not apply, SOCAN has the right and is responsible to its members to collect licence fees to ensure that authors, composers of music and their publishers are fairly remunerated for the use of their musical works.

To sum up:

  • The exemption applies to performances by educational institutions and religious, charitable and fraternal organizations. Performances by persons other than these organizations or institutions are not exempt.
  • The performance must be in furtherance of a religious, educational, or charitable object. For a performance to be “in furtherance of” the objects identified in section 32.2(3), it should be a participating factor in the object itself.

Examples of performances that may qualify:

  • Music performed without remuneration during a religious service
  • School concert or talent show staged by the students
  • Background music at a holiday dinner served at a soup kitchen for the purpose of the relief or amelioration of poverty
  • Unremunerated performances to educate or raise public awareness of the performing arts

Revenue generating performances:
Revenue generating performances are not covered by the exemption because their object is to generate revenue for the performing artists and related business partners. While these performances can sometimes take place at charitable, educational or religious events, such as festivals, fundraisers and other charities, the object of the performer remains commercial.

The fact that proceeds from an event may be donated or directed in whole or in part to a particular charitable, educational or religious cause, organization or institution, does not change the object of the original performance where the performer or related business partners have profited monetarily from the performance.

Organizations and institutions doing public performances who believe the exemption may apply to certain of their activities are invited to contact SOCAN’s licensing department at To assist us prior to doing so, please fill out and submit the following questionnaire to SOCAN for review and determination.