previews

No Royalties On Music Previews

The Supreme Court Of Canada has ruled that music previews comply to the definition of Fair Dealing in the Copyright Act and cannot therefore be subjected to the collection of royalties.

“Research” need not be for creative purposes only. Permitting only creative purposes to qualify as “research” would ignore the fact that one of the objectives of the Copyright Act is the dissemination of the works themselves. Limiting “research” to creative purposes would also run counter to the ordinary meaning of “research”, which includes many activities that do not require the establishment of new facts or conclusions. The fair dealing exception must not be interpreted restrictively and “research” must be given a large and liberal interpretation.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, Canadian Recording Industry Association and CMRRA-SODRAC Inc had wished to collect royalties from internet providers for both previews and full music downloads, the latter also having been dismissed by another ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada today.

These royalties would have resulted in major expenditures for internet providers, who would have passed these on to the consumer.

Canadians To Pay For Music Previews ?

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.

Song Previews & Royalties

SOCAN is again back in court, attempting to obtain royalties for those 30 second previews online retailers use on their sites.

Three years after the Copyright Board rulled that fair dealing applies because consumers use these previews as research, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers have taken the case to Surpreme Court.

The Federal Court of Appeal has concured with the Copyright Board last May. But SOCAN insists that these previews be subjected to royalties because they would want the definition of the term research limited to format settings.

So SOCAN want online retailers to pay royalties so their customers have the priviledge to preview the music they’re selling, even when no actual sale occurs.

Where exactly does SOCAN think the funds would come from ?

The recording artists, composers, lyricists and music publishers they represent are already legally entitled to royalties from the sale of recordings, so the previews work in the favor. And online retailers are in no way obliged to offer previews, which results in expendatures for maintenance and bandwidth.

You would think SOCAN would appreciate the value of promotion but they seem to be quite insistant on this counterproductive, counterintuitive cash grab.

SOCAN obviously want to nickle and dime legal music download services, whose previews are used regularily by consumers. After all, the legal music download services can pass those extra expendatures on to their customers, right ?

But of course SOCAN would rather emphesize the benefits that would allegedly result from this scheme. You know, how artists and composers would get royalties when in reality the majority of funds would be forwarded to the music publishers they represent.