Canadian Supreme Court rules on music

Decisions strike down claims for larger digital royalties

A series of decisions by the Supreme Court of Canada had music publishers crying foul and those in favor of free access to the web applauding.

One decision knocks down the music biz’s plan to collect extra royalties on music downloaded from the Internet.

The top court in Canada ruled Thursday that existing copyright agreements will apply and that music companies will not be able to collect additional royalties for downloading.

If this had been accepted, the new fees could have upped the price of buying songs online in Canada via services like iTunes.

The Supreme Court also ruled that online retailers should not pay royalties for their 30-second or more song previews, striking down the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada’s demand.

In yet another ruling, the Court stated that videogame publishers do not need to pay extra royalties for music in games that are downloaded online because they had already paid license fees for the music.

But streaming music outlets like Rdio or pubcaster CBC’s web music service will have to pay extra royalty fees while distributors, such as cable operators, will not have to pay copyright fees for music downloaded on their services.

The cases were heard at the Supreme Court in December.

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