New copyright goon squad allowed to steal musical copyrights, rip off artists, harass Canadians

Posted on June 1st, 2012 4 great comments. Room for one more!

The group is called Re:Sound, and here’s just a smattering of the bullshit they’re peddling (from their website):

You may not be aware that you need a licence to use music in your business, but it is your responsibility to get the right licence(s) if you are playing music in public. Licences are also required by public and commercial broadcasters.

Not entirely true. There is at least one exceptions in the Copyright Act where you can “use music” in your business without being harassed by yet another copyright goon squad:

http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-42/page-48.html#docCont

In respect of public performances by means of any radio receiving set in any place other than a theatre that is ordinarily and regularly used for entertainments to which an admission charge is made, no royalties shall be collectable from the owner or user of the radio receiving set, but the Board shall, in so far as possible, provide for the collection in advance from radio broadcasting stations of royalties appropriate to the conditions produced by the provisions of this subsection and shall fix the amount of the same.

In other words, if you are playing music through a radio or over a web station, the station is already paying tariffs so you don’t have to. But what does that matter? They can claim that you owe them cash even if you’re just playing music over a boombox while having a picnic in the park with friends:

G. PARKS, STREETS AND OTHER PUBLIC AREAS

Application

1. (1) This tariff sets the royalties to be paid for the performance in public or the communication to the public by telecommunication of published sound recordings embodying musical works and performers’ performances of such works in the repertoire of Re:Sound in parks, streets and other public areas.

Interestingly, there are a series of stipulations in Canadian copyright law called “fair dealing” which exempts people from being harassed. Funny how Re:Sound makes no mention of these:

It is important to clarify some general considerations about exceptions to copyright infringement. Procedurally, a defendant is required to prove that his or her dealing with a work has been fair; however, the fair dealing exception is perhaps more properly understood as an integral part of the Copyright Act than simply a defence. Any act falling within the fair dealing exception will not be an infringement of copyright. The fair dealing exception, like other exceptions in the Copyright Act, is a user’s right. In order to maintain the proper balance between the rights of a copyright owner and users’ interests, it must not be interpreted restrictively.

  1. The Purpose of the Dealing Is it for research, private study, criticism, review or news reporting? It expresses that “these allowable purposes should not be given a restrictive interpretation or this could result in the undue restriction of users’ rights.” In particular, the Court gave a “a large and liberal interpretation” to the notion of research, stating that “lawyers carrying on the business of law for profit are conducting research”.
  2. The Character of the Dealing How were the works dealt with? Was there a single copy or were multiple copies made? Were these copies distributed widely or to a limited group of people? Was the copy destroyed after being used? What is the general practice in the industry?
  3. The Amount of the Dealing How much of the work was used? What was the importance of the infringed work? Quoting trivial amounts may alone sufficiently establish fair dealing as there would not be copyright infringement at all. In some cases even quoting the entire work may be fair dealing. The amount of the work taken must be fair in light of the purpose of the dealing.
  4. Alternatives to the Dealing Was a “non-copyrighted equivalent of the work” available to the user? Was the dealing “reasonably necessary to achieve the ultimate purpose”?
  5. The Nature of the Work Copying from a work that has never been published could be more fair than from a published work “in that its reproduction with acknowledgement could lead to a wider public dissemination of the work – one of the goals of copyright law. If, however, the work in question was confidential, this may tip the scales towards finding that the dealing was unfair.”
  6. Effect of the Dealing on the Work Is it likely to affect the market of the original work? “Although the effect of the dealing on the market of the copyright owner is an important factor, it is neither the only factor nor the most important factor that a court must consider in deciding if the dealing is fair.”

When I mention “yet another” copyright good squad, that’s because this new body is looking to charge people for the same thing that an already existing group, SOCAN, is doing:

Re:Sound and SOCAN are distinct organisations that represent different groups and as such, both are required to be compensated.

But while it’s claimed that these are two “distinct organizations”, the law gives them right to squeal on you to each other:

(2) Re:Sound may share information referred to in subsection (1)

  1. (a) in connection with the collection of royalties or the enforcement of a tariff, with SOCAN;

Just like that, the Intellectual Property mafia come along and double your monthly “protection” fees.

And just like any other organization in who’s debt you are simply for existing, they’re ready to charge you interest until you cough up the dough:

Interest on Late Payments

7. Any amount not received by the due date shall bear interest from that date until the date the amount is received. Interest shall be calculated daily, at a rate equal to one per cent above the Bank Rate effective on the last day of the previous month (as published by the Bank of Canada). Interest shall not compound.

Particularly troubling is the section of the Copyright Act that says that bodies like Re:Sound are required to compensate artists if they happen to be collecting tariffs for their works, even if they don’t represent them and have no claim to the copyright:

Claims by non-members
  • 76. (1) An owner of copyright who does not authorize a collective society to collect, for that person’s benefit, royalties referred to in paragraph 31(2)(d) is, if the work is communicated to the public by telecommunication during a period when an approved tariff that is applicable to that kind of work is effective, entitled to be paid those royalties by the collective society that is designated by the Board, of its own motion or on application, subject to the same conditions as those to which a person who has so authorized that collective society is subject.
  • Marginal note:Royalties that may be recovered

    (2) An owner of copyright who does not authorize a collective society to collect, for that person’s benefit, royalties referred to in subsection 29.6(2) or 29.7(2) or (3) is, if such royalties are payable during a period when an approved tariff that is applicable to that kind of work or other subject-matter is effective, entitled to be paid those royalties by the collective society that is designated by the Board, of its own motion or on application, subject to the same conditions as those to which a person who has so authorized that collective society is subject.

  • Marginal note:Exclusion of remedies

    (3) The entitlement referred to in subsections (1) and (2) is the only remedy of the owner of the copyright for the payment of royalties for the communication, making of the copy or sound recording or performance in public, as the case may be.

In other words, if these organizations are collecting tariffs on your music, you can demand to be paid for that “service”. However, that’s all you can do. So, the organization can collect money on music that they have absolutely no rights to, and you, as owner of the music, have no other remedies. Read that section again if you don’t believe me.

It’s a messed up way of claiming the right to collect money on your music without claiming direct ownership over it — though the difference is the same if the law claims you can’t restrict someone from collecting money on your own works.

To put it another way, the very “crimes” that these organizations are supposed to be preventing are what they are basically being welcomed to engage in – by law. And if it so happens that you don’t know your music is being milked by Re:Sound for the benefit of their “partners”, too bad. And even if you do, too bad. They get to charge money for all music everywhere, and you’d better like it. You might get paid … eventually.

Of course, if it turns out you underpaid the copyright mafia, they reserve the right to get all up in your business and force you to cough up and pay at any time for a period of up to 6 years back; and, of course, if they ripped you off, there exists no provision to protect you in the same way:

Records and Audits

4. (1) A person subject to this tariff shall keep and preserve, for a period of six years after the end of the year to which they relate, records from which that person’s payment under this tariff can be readily ascertained.

(2) Re:Sound may audit these records at any time during the period set out in subsection (1), on reasonable notice and during normal business hours.

(3) Re:Sound shall, upon receipt, supply a copy of the report of the audit to the person who was the subject of the audit.

(4) If an audit discloses that the royalties owed to Re:Sound during any reporting period have been understated by more than ten per cent, the subject of the audit shall pay the amount of the understatement and the reasonable costs of the audit within 30 days of the demand for such payment.

Do you suppose you get to charge Re:Sound interest if it turns out they’ve been charging people for playing your music for years without your permission?

And if you don’t think that the copyright goon squad will play nice and fair, there are plenty of recent examples demonstrating that they have absolutely no intention of doing that.

Originally posted at: http://patrickbay.ca/blog/?p=3527

4 Comments on “ New copyright goon squad allowed to steal musical copyrights, rip off artists, harass Canadians ”

  • Daniel J. Christie
    June 2nd, 2012 7:47 am

    With all due respect….if you’re playing music on a boombox in the park while picnicing with friends, you ARE the goon squad.


    Read more from Daniel J. Christie at:
  • Patrick
    June 2nd, 2012 3:38 pm

    Well, Daniel, I guess that depends on how many people you’re bothering. However, it seems that there’s more interest in making sure you’ve paid for that music than in keeping it at a respectable volume, and to me this is the most pressing problem.


  • GS
    January 5th, 2014 5:35 pm

    It is totally outrageous! it is no different than me watching the public and fining them for illegal activity and stating that I am collecting for the government and not actually giving them anything or making sure it goes to the right person.


    Read more from GS at:
  • Patrick
    January 6th, 2014 2:32 pm

    And yet it’s happening and completely legal, GS, proving exactly what kind of corruption and criminality we’re all living under – the copyright mafia is just another goon squad for our corporate-government dictatorship.


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