Sony. Universal and CMRRA face Competition Tribunal hearing in Canada

October 2015

Recorded music



A Canadian firm which had been releasing low cost CDs of public domain recordings by the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones, amongst others, is accusing two major record labels of using their clout and their combination of both recording and music copyrights to circumvent provisions of Canadian copyright law that had put some recordings by the Fab Four and others into the public domain. The term of copyright protection for sound recordings for Canada was extended from 50 years to 70 years this year. The extension was not applied retrospectively, so gives the extended term of protection to recordings from 1965 onwards. Now record label Stargrove has filed a 408 page complaint with the Canadian Competition Tribunal claiming market interference by the vertically integrated music giants, Universal and Sony, who have blocked releases of public domain sound recordings: It is alleged their publishing arms (for Sony this is Sony/ATV) instructed the local music collection society Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA) to refuse mechanical licences for the compositions included in the recordings. The complaint says the refusal of licences means that rights holders are denying Stargrove mechanical licences on the usual trade terms (contra to Section 75(1) of the Competition Act), and that the moves are a violation of the illegal price maintenance provisions (Section 76 of the Competition Act) designed to keep Stargrove out of the market and maintain market share and higher pricing, and a further violation of Section 77 of the Competition Act. Stargrove has asked the Competition Tribunal to order a stop to the violations and to enter into an agreement on standard trade terms.


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