About Copyright

A copyright is made up of numerous different rights. The performing rights that SOCAN administers are part of copyright. The following is some general information about copyright.

What is a copyright?
A copyright is made up of a variety of different rights, and the performing rights that SOCAN administers is one part of that copyright. The Canadian Copyright Act recognizes three main rights:

  • The right to produce or copy the musical work (such as sheet music)
  • The right to reproduce the musical work, including mechanical rights (such as cassette and digital audio reproductions) and synchronization rights (such as music in films, videos, and multimedia productions)
  • Performing rights, which are the rights to perform a work in public (such as a live concert, a recording or any other type of public performance) and the right to communicate to the public by telecommunication (e.g., a broadcast)

SOCAN administers and protects the performing right of its members. SOCAN does not administer reproduction rights (mechanical rights, synchronization rights), print rights, translation rights, moral rights or neighbouring rights. SOCAN cannot act on your behalf with publishers, promoters, distributors, movie studios or anyone else. Your agent or lawyer will help you with these transactions.

What is a performing right?
Simply, it is the right to perform a work. This performance may be a live performance, a recording or any other type of performance.

The performing right gives copyright owners of musical works the sole right to perform or authorize the performance in public of their works or communicate their works by telecommunication to the public (broadcast on television or radio). In return for paying their royalties, SOCAN administers these performing rights in musical works on behalf of its members.

Buying a CD or other recording only gives you the right to listen to it in private. The public performance of these musical works is subject to copyright law and therefore requires a SOCAN licence.

Registering a copyright
While copyright ownership in Canada is automatic upon creation of a song, it is still important to have evidence that establishes ownership and date of creation in the possible event of infringement. The following are common practices: registering with the Canadian and/or U.S. copyright offices and including identification of ownership on all published material.

To register a musical work claim in Canada, complete a form from the Copyright Office (part of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office) and send it back to the office along with the filing fee.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)
Industry Canada
Place du Portage I
50 Victoria Street, 2nd floor
Gatineau QC
K1A 0C9
1-866-997-1936
cipo.contact@ic.gc.ca

If someone uses your copyright-protected material without your permission, consult a copyright lawyer to determine your best course of action.

Copyright and the Internet
To protect your copyright on the internet, always place the copyright notice (i.e. © Your Name 2007 [year of first publication]) on all your works to give notice of your copyright claim to potential users. Beyond that, it's up to you to be diligent and watch for any evidence of infringement. Then you can request that the infringer stop using your works or even take legal action. There's no policing mechanism yet over copyright on the Internet.

Copyright around the world
Canada is a signatory to the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions. These are international treaties, signed by many countries, that ensure copyright owners are granted similar rights in all signatory countries.

Your Canadian copyright is required by these treaties to be upheld in all signatory countries, however you should always place the international copyright notice (e.g. © Your Name 2007 [year of first publication]) on all your works to give notice of your copyright claim to potential users.

You should always include a copyright notice on all copies of your work. Registering a copyright in another country provides even greater evidence to support your claim of ownership of the copyright to the work.

Your performing rights are protected by SOCAN through the operation of reciprocal (bilateral) agreements with foreign affiliated performing rights organizations throughout the world.

Copyright law is similar but not identical in all countries that are signatories to the international treaties on copyright (the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions). The laws of each such country may differ in many aspects.

Canadian Private Copying Collective
The Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) is a non-profit agency charged with collecting and distributing private copying royalties. Established in 1999, the CPCC is a collective of collectives that represent music authors, music publishers, recording artists and record companies.

A "private copy" is a copy of a track of recorded music that is made by an individual for personal use. A compilation of favourite tracks is a good example of how people typically use private copies. Canada's Copyright Act was revised in 1997 to allow consumers to copy recorded music for their own personal use. In exchange, legislators provided for a royalty to provide remuneration for private copying to the songwriters, artists, music publishers and record companies with rights in recorded music.

The private copying royalty is not a tax. Attaching a royalty to the blank media used for private copying allows those with rights in recorded music to receive some remuneration for their work and investment. This provides an incentive for music creators and artists to continue to create music and for record companies and publishers to continue to invest in its creation.

Similar royalties are collected in over 40 countries around the world.

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