Friday, October 24, 2008

Copyright Board Releases Tariff 22B-G

The Copyright Board has just released the royalty rates to be owed for use of music online by commercial and non-commercial radio stations, the CBC, and audio websites. I posted on the opening remarks for this proceeding in April 2007. A few things to note:
  • At the 2007 hearing, SOCAN proposed a $60 annual fee for podcasters whose programming is less than 20% SOCAN music. The Copyright Board has done better, exempting amateur podcasters. They also set a minimum annual fee of $28 for what it calls 'audio websites' using less than 20% SOCAN music. The annual fee is increased to $79 if the content is between 20 and 80 per cent SOCAN music, and $100 if the combined use is 80 per cent or more SOCAN music.
  • SOCAN also proposed a $90 monthly fee for campus and community radio; the Copyright Board has determined that fees for the online use of music by non-commercial radio stations will be based, as with the traditional broadcast of music by these stations, on gross internet operating costs at a rate of 1.9%, adjusting for the number of hits the web site gets. (If 90% of hits on the site is for text-based content, the station would only have to pay 10% of the 1.9% rate.) However, many non-commercial radio stations won't be required to pay this fee as they have already paid the 1.9% on internet operating costs under the regular broadcasting tariff. (thanks John)
  • The CBC and the National Campus and Community Radio Association had argued that they should not have to pay an additional fee to simulcast existing radio programming on the grounds that they are using the same material to reach the same audience and should therefore not be charged twice; that they are simply transferring an existing practice onto a new medium; that they are simply following their audience onto a new technology, and that the tariff should be technologically neutral. Although this principle seems to have been generally adopted in the case of non-commercial broadcasters, the CBC will be charged an additional 10% of what they pay under the traditional broadcast tariff, adjusted down for the number of hits received on their podcasts. (If 90% of the hits to the CBC web site is for text rather than audio content, the CBC would pay only an additional 1% more.)


  1. Actually, the tariff states that "a station that includes its gross Internet operating costs in calculating the royalties payable pursuant to Tariff 1.B is not required to pay any royalties or to provide any information pursuant to this section." Therefore, at worst, no additional tariff for stations.

  2. Thanks! Corrected.

  3. While the decision thus far is encouraging, the fact the Board did NOT apply the "technology neutral" element to Internet fees is disconcerting as SOCAN pursues tariffs for 2007 onward. As was pointed ou at the hearings into Tariff 22, the Internet is simply another transmitter, albeit one with a global reach versus a limited terrestrial one. Still, existing stations with multiple transmitters do not pay a fee "per transmitter". Neither should they have to do so with the addition of this latest transmitter. As argued at the hearings, the application of new technologies to deliver
    'existing' product should not be taxed; that would merely serve to stifle technological advances in media. The introduciton of 'new' product utilizing new technologies may have cause for some new levy, providing it is not so punitive as to prohibit such activities.

  4. I've adjusted my post somewhat, because I think the Board did actually accept the argument for technological neutrality, at least in the case of non-commercial stations.