Image courtesy of The Fold blog
Image courtesy of The Fold blog

CBC Dispute Ends With Initial $1.5M Payout To SOCAN Clients

SOCAN, on behalf of SODRAC members and clients, is finally able to collect for the reproduction of music on CBC television broadcasts.

The Supreme Court of Canada has determined that “broadcast incidental copies” have reproduction rights value as SOCAN/SODRAC was able to demonstrate.

Broadcast incidental copies are copies of music embedded in audio-visual content made by broadcasters that are necessary to facilitate television, radio or online broadcasting. Synchronization refers to the process of incorporating a musical work into an audiovisual work.

Broadcast incidental copies are essentially copies of audiovisual content (containing copyright music), where the copies are made for internal use to facilitate the actual broadcast on different platforms. By example, a Murdoch Mysteries program is delivered to CBC and several internal copies are made in order to facilitate that program being offered on TV, online, on-demand, archives.

The CBC had earlier argued that the right did not exist, and then argued that the right’s value was next to zero. The Copyright Board has now confirmed value and that broadcast incidental copies are an essential element of the CBC's broadcasting activities in a digital world.

The Copyright Board ruled on the re-examinations of its 2012 decision on the value of those music reproductions.

SODRAC – the reproduction rights collective that SOCAN acquired in 2018 – successfully defended the 2012 ruling. That judgment ensured that associated royalties would be delivered to the music publishers, composers, and songwriters who rightfully earned them from the use of copies of their work.

Agreements have long been in place for commercial radio broadcast reproductions. SOCAN is now the only collective in Canada collecting television reproduction royalties for members and clients.

After almost 10 years of litigation with CBC, the Copyright Board re-confirmed that broadcast incidental copies are essential to the broadcast business and are payable as reproduction royalties for rights-holders.

The result was a ruling in favour of rights-holders, awarding $1.5-million in 2008-2012 licenses. The final decision on the amount for the period 2012-2018 is still to be issued by the Copyright Board.

This decision has ongoing incremental value for music reproduction rights-holders. Now that a definitive value has been set, SOCAN will begin negotiations with additional Canadian broadcasters that require a license to use broadcast incidental copies of copyright music.

SOCAN had already reached television reproduction agreements with certain Bell Media and Corus Entertainment channels. It also has agreements with a full complement of Québec-based broadcasters.

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