Supreme Court’s Decision Re-affirms Music Creators’ Rights

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Toronto – Today’s Supreme Court of Canada decision confirming that broadcast-incidental copies of musical works require a separate license under the Copyright Act is welcomed by SOCAN – the Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada.

“SOCAN is pleased with several key aspects of the decision released by the Supreme Court of Canada today in the case of CBC v. SODRAC, and we congratulate SODRAC for a job well done,” said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. “The rights of music creators must be upheld as they strive to earn fair compensation for their work when it is copied to a new technology by a business. While it is disappointing that the court felt the need to remit the matter back to the Copyright Board for further consideration of the value of the music licenses in question, the Court clearly rejected CBC’s attempt to challenge firmly entrenched legal principles on the scope of copyright protection.”

The case, which was filed with the Supreme Court of Canada in 2014, concerned the decision of the Copyright Board of Canada for the collection of music royalties for the making of copies incidental to the use of new broadcast technologies. For example, as noted by the court, it is the practice of CBC to load the master copy of programs containing music into its digital content management system for internal use. When these copies are made to facilitate broadcasting, they are called “broadcast?incidental copies.”

In its decision the court also confirmed that it was appropriate for the Copyright Board to grant an interim license in the circumstances at hand.

SOCAN was especially pleased with the conclusion expressed by the Supreme Court that, “While balance between user and right?holder interests and technological neutrality are central to Canadian copyright law, they cannot change the express terms of the Act.” The Court also confirmed that the separation of synchronization and broadcast?incidental licenses does not offend technological neutrality: “Recognizing production and broadcasting as distinct activities validly subject to disaggregated licenses does not impose new layers of protections and fees based solely on technological change.”

SOCAN is a member-based organization that represents the Canadian performing rights of more than three-million Canadian and international music creators and publishers. SOCAN is proud to play a leading role in supporting the long-term success of its more than 130,000 Canadian members, and the Canadian music industry overall. SOCAN licenses more than 125,000 businesses in Canada, and distributes royalties to its members and music rights organizations around the world. SOCAN also distributes royalties to its members for the use of their music internationally in collaboration with its peer societies.

Media Contact:
Andrew Berthoff, (416) 442-3836,