Online music: the Supreme Court abolishes double royalties for streaming and downloading



The Supreme Court of Canada has said songwriters are only entitled to one royalty — not two — when their music is available for streaming or downloaded via an online service.

Today’s Supreme Court decision clarifies the meaning of a provision of Canadian copyright law dealing with the communication of a work to the public online.

The Copyright Board of Canada had ruled that the statutory provision meant that the making available of a song or other artistic work was a separately protected activity for which there must be compensation.

The council said this entitles rightsholders to two payments when a work is distributed online: one when it is made available on a platform such as iTunes or Spotify, and a second when it is actually streamed or downloaded by a listener.

The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the council’s decision.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the council’s interpretation undermined the purpose of copyright law, violating the principle of “technological neutrality” by requiring users to pay additional royalties to access works. on line.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 15, 2022.


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