CSI Appealing Online Music Tariff

Rights agencies CMRRA-SODRAC (CSI) have jointly filed an application for judicial review of an August 25 Copyright Board of Canada decision certifying royalties payable to songwriters and music publishers for the reproduction of musical works by online music services operating in Canada, including services that offer music downloads, on-demand streaming and webcasting.

The music collective that represents the vast majority of music rightsholders in Canada said in a statement that it is “greatly disappointed by the decision” and has filed an application for judicial review before the Federal Court of Appeal on a number of reviewable errors.

“CSI does not agree with many aspects of the Board’s decision, including the very dramatic reduction in the royalty rates for streaming services and the virtual elimination of minimum rates for subscription services and services offered on a free or ad-supported model,” said Alain Lauzon, President of CSI and General Manager of the Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada (“SODRAC”).  “If applied, these rates would significantly decrease royalties payable to songwriters and music publishers, and provide no compensation at all in some cases.”

The same statement argues that “Rightsholders are now faced with a tariff that has unacceptably low royalty rates, largely based on the scant evidence that was available at the time of the hearing, and which was produced before most of today’s online music services began operation in Canada.

This tariff, which applies to the years 2011-2013, took more than three years to be rendered after the conclusion of the hearing in early 2014.

“During this time a new streaming market has emerged and, in the absence of a Board certified tariff, CSI has negotiated directly with these new services to license them at rates much more favourable than those specified in the tariff,” said Caroline Rioux, Vice President of CSI and President of Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd. (“CMRRA”). 

“CSI and its rightsholders welcome new services to Canada and believe that it is in the best interest of songwriters, music publishers, and the services to continue to negotiate directly for solutions that benefit both sides.”

At the current pace, a new tariff for the post-2013 period within which these services launched in Canada is unlikely to be certified any time soon. "In the interim, this decision will continue to cause confusion and frustration in the market for songwriters and music publishers every day (and for ) these reasons, CMRRA and SODRAC look forward to participating in the consultations that were recently announced by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development on the Board.”

 For more information, contact:

Lydia Couture-Comtois
Executive Assistant
Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA)
320 – 56 Wellesley Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 2S3
Phone: 416.926.1966 ext. 228
Email: lcouture-comtois@cmrra.ca

Éric Trudel
Communications Manager
Society for reproduction rights of authors, composers and publishers in Canada
Tower B, Suite 1010, 1470 Peel Street, Montréal QC H3A 1T1
Phone: 514 845-3268 / 1 888 876-3722  ext. 223
Email: etrudel@sodrac.ca

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