Starting tomorrow the Supreme Court of Canada will hear appeals in regards to royalty payments for music previews and music in video games.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada wants royalties every time someone clicks on one of those short previews when they Shop on iTunes, eMusic, etc, and had appealed an October 18th, 2007 Copyright Board of Canada decision stating that these qualifies as “fair dealing”.

Unfortunately for the consumer many retailers have decided to drop previews because of this case, including Amazon.ca, and if the Supreme Court rules in their favor previews might be removed on most sites because the royalties would be quite prohibitive.

A ruling establishing royalties on previews could also set a precedent that could hinder film previews and trailers in Canada. But I am hoping the previous Copyright Board of Canada decision will stand.

Previews are not purchases but research to which the end result might be a legitimate purchase. And without previews, people will think twice about making a purchase, so it is counterproductive.

Then there’s the fact that this ruling would not apply to foreign sites, where previews are accessible by Canadians. And any attempt to collect royalties for previews from these foreign sites would be problematic because of their national “fair dealing” exemptions.

Apple and Canada’s largest telecom companies are of course fighting this appeal. The Canadian Recording Industry Association had also opposed royalties on previews so I am guessing that their modern counterpart, Music Canada, also oppose them.