Canadian Supreme Court to look at all things copyright

January 2012

All areas

The Supreme Court of Canada has been considering five separate intellectual property disputes in one go. Good times which prompted a gathering of rights owners, music collection societies (SOCAN and CSI the performing rights and mechanical rights respectively, and representatives from digital, telcom, ISPs and gaming industries who arrived in Ottawa to present their respective sides of the argument.

One of the most interesting of all the debates is the one related to iTunes previews, the thirty second clips consumers can stream in order to decide whether they want to buy a song (or more likely to confirm it’s really the song they think it is) which content owners, including SOCAN, argue is a performance attracting a royalty. In their way is a Canadian case called Bell v SOCAN as its been argued that those clips constitute private research on the part of the consumer, and should therefore be covered by so called ‘fair use’ rights – or, to be technically correct, for copyright systems with their origins in English law, ‘fair dealing’. The Canadian Recording Industry Association, SOCAN and CSI each presented arguments as to why fair dealing should not apply in the case of preview on download platforms, the latter relying primarily on Canada’s obligations under international copyright treaties.

CMU Daily 10 December 2011

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