Canada: For Whom The Ringtone Tolls [telecom]

Canada: For Whom The Ringtone Tolls - Federal Court Confirms No Repayment Owed To Telecommunications Companies By SOCAN For Communicating Downloadable Ringtones

by Tamara Céline Winegust and Naomi Zener

The Blacksonian principle - that law is not made, but merely discovered - does not operate to nullify royalty payments for communicating downloadable musical works by telecommunication made under private settlement agreements between parties or Tariffs certified by the Canadian Copyright Board and not overturned by the courts. The Federal Court's recent decision in Rogers Communication Canada Inc v Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2021 FC 207, ("Rogers 2021") confirmed that, notwithstanding the Supreme Court's 2012 decisions in Entertainment Software Association v Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2012 SCC 34 ("ESA") and Rogers Communications Inc v Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, 2012 SCC 35 ("Rogers"), telecommunications companies are not entitled to repayment from SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers, the Canadian performing rights organization that controls and administers performance and communication royalties related to the copyright in musical works) for royalties paid with respect to communicating downloadable mobile phone ringtones under certified tariffs and settlement agreements entered into prior to the Supreme Court's decision. Moreover, to the extent those telecommunications companies withheld payments to SOCAN owed under such certified tariffs or settlement agreements, they were now required to pay back the amount withheld, with interest.

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***** Moderator's Note *****

OK, it's a bit thick even for me, but to my mind, the point is that major players in the various businesses which have become associated with cellular phones are busy staking out turf and trying to get their hooks into every part of the market that they can.

Any lawyers reading this are welcome to comment.

Bill Horne Moderator

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