Canadian music royalties go online

Copyright board OKs tariff for gaming, online radio sites

TORONTO -- The Copyright Board of Canada on Monday extended music royalties to the Internet in a move that will encompass commercial TV and radio station Web sites, electronic gaming sites and online radio stations.

But the federal government agency stopped short of imposing a new tariff on amateur podcasts or social networking sites such as YouTube or MySpace that employ music, or music-based webcasts heard in restaurants, hotels or bars.

"Such a tariff, if certified, could potentially target hundreds of thousands of users who either make very limited use of music or attract little or no attention," Justice William Vancise and Stephen Callary of the Copyright Board said in a majority decision.

The tariff decision was prompted by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), which has long called for music royalties for Internet-base distribution and delivery of music product for which artists hold a copyright.

"For the users already paying royalties to SOCAN for their conventional activities, the decision essentially extends the existing tariffs to their Internet activities", Copyright Board secretary general Claude Majeau said.