On April 21, 2016, the Copyright Board of Canada certified the CMRRA-SODRAC Inc. (CSI) Commercial Radio Tariff. The tariff sets the royalty rates payable by commercial radio broadcasters for certain periods, beginning in 2012, for the use of music, including the songs that CSI licenses for reproduction.
This decision is the first by the Copyright Board to set rates for the reproduction right in music since certain amendments to the Canadian Copyright Act took effect in November 2012. In hearings before the Board, which began in October 2013 and ended in March 2014, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) argued that new exceptions created under the Act effectively eliminated the need for broadcasters to pay reproduction royalties. CSI strongly disagreed with these assertions and vigorously defended the rights of copyright owners to continue to be paid for the reproduction of their works and realize the full value of those rights.
While the Copyright Board’s decision affirmed that broadcasters are obligated to pay royalties for the copies they make, it also opened the door to a significant reduction of those royalties through the application of exceptions. The decision also imposed a complex licence structure that stands to increase the administrative costs of the tariffs.
CSI disagrees with many aspects of the decision and, together with Connect Music Licensing and SOPROQ, has applied to the Federal Court of Appeal for judicial review, the equivalent of an appeal of the Copyright Board’s decision. In their application, the collectives argue that the Board misinterpreted the new exceptions in the Copyright Act and erred in applying them to the evidence in the proceeding, resulting in royalty rates that are too low and a tariff structure that is unduly complicated. In August, the Federal Court granted a partial stay to delay the implementation of certain provisions of the tariff until the appeal is resolved. A date for the judicial review hearing has not yet been scheduled.
We will provide you with a further update on this important matter at such time as a decision from the Federal Court of Appeal has been rendered.