This letter by CMRRA’s President, Caroline Rioux, is in response to a Michael Geist article recently published by Toronto Star and The Hill Times.
May 4, 2015
I am writing in response to Michael Geist’s recent article to correct his statement that CMRRA, the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd, was ordered by the major record labels to stop issuing licences to certain competitors in the market place.
This statement is patently false. CMRRA is a music licensing agency which acts exclusively on behalf of the music publishers it represents. Those music publishers range in size from large multinationals to individual songwriters.
As Mr. Geist is well aware, music publishers generally hold rights to songs, which are distinct from the rights to sound recordings typically held by record companies. CMRRA acts as an agent for its music publisher clients as principals, and takes instructions solely and exclusively from those music publishers concerning the licensing of their songs to record companies and other users of their works. Record companies are licensees of CMRRA. CMRRA does not take, and has never taken, orders from record companies on the licensing of songs belonging to CMRRA’s music publisher clients.
In the case reported by Mr. Geist, a number of music publishers instructed CMRRA to refrain from issuing licences for certain products that had either recently been, or were about to be, released in Canada. As Mr. Geist rightly pointed out, many of the songs on these recordings are protected by copyright in Canada and as such, licences must be obtained before they can legally be reproduced and/or distributed in this territory.
As the copyright owners of the songs in question, these music publishers had every right to refuse licences for the use of their songs by a third party since, as Mr. Geist also rightly reported, such licences are not compulsory in Canada. A music publisher’s refusal to grant a licence can stem from a variety of business reasons, well beyond those related to the use of public domain master recordings.
The suggestion by Mr. Geist that “artists lose a source revenue” when a licence is refused is also misplaced. Where the master recording is in the public domain, the artist – that is, the performer – is not compensated by the sale of that recording any more than the record company who initially produced that recording. As for the copyright owners of the songs embodied in those master recordings – that is, the songwriters and/or music publishers – it is their own choice to refuse to grant such licences and forego any potential associated revenue.
Caroline Rioux | President