TORONTO — Record companies and music publishers in Canada have reached agreement on a royalty arrangement for the next six years.

After nine months of negotiations, the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA), which represents most of the music publishers doing business in Canada and the Canadian Recording Industry Assn. (CRIA), representing all of the major record companies, leading independent labels and manufacturing companies in Canada, have inked a new Mechanical Licensing Agreement, in effect retroactively from Jan. 1, 1998, to Dec. 31, 1003.

“Best we could get”

“I’m satisfied that it was the best deal we could get right now,” said Michael McCarty, president of EMI Music Publishing Canada and chairman of the board of CMRRA. “But I still think that Canadian songwriters and publishers are among the lowest paid in the world.”

The MLA rate, which is a standard royalty for the reproduction of music onto CDs and cassettes, is based on a rate to copy a song, with a premium tacked on if the piece runs more than five minutes.

The CMRRA in turn shares these royalties with music’s publishers and songwriters. At the end of the new pact, the rate for copying a piece of music will rise to 5.3¢, plus the premium.

“The last rate was 4.5¢ cents, so it was a fairly substantial rise,” said CRIA president Brian Robertson, who called the agreement “a fair middle ground.”