"Commercial Use of Copyright Material Requires a License"
copyright 1996 by Monte Nordstrom
from issue #31 - Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine - July '96
(additional info supplied by SOCAN)
It seems that everywhere we go
these days we are surrounded by
music. Sporting events, exercise
classes, stores, bars, restaurants
and even elevators have the sound
of music emanating from some
source. Radio, television, video
games, movies all feature music. The field of entertainment
seems to be expanding by leaps &
bounds. These public usages of
music are legally required to be
licensed from the copyright owners
by the business operators whose
trade is enhanced by the ambience
of this music.
The authorship of an intellectual
work is protected in this country by the federal Copyright Act. This
act dictates the rights due to the authors of dramatic, literary and
musical works. One right under the Act is the author's control of
the reproduction of their copyright material, such as playing a
recording or staging a live public performance of a song. If a
business operator does not pay a fee or royalty to the author of a
piece performed in their establishment, they may be infringing on
the songwriters rights under the Canadian Copyright Act.
If you are a business that has music playing on your premises,
you are required to obtain permission of the copyright owner and
pay a fee for that usage. Obviously this would be impossible to do
on an individual basis, given the thousands of writers, songs &
publishers scattered thoughout the world. That is why there are
performance rights organizations.
In Canada the administration of public performance of music is
handled by SOCAN - the Society of Composers, Authors and
Music Publishers of Canada. Their license fees are controlled by
Copyright Board approved tariffs and cover all music performance
usages and distribute these monies back to the authors of the
music through a complex non-profit system that ultimately issues
royalty cheques to song writers. Thats the way it works and this
is nothing new. Licensing fees have been collected from
businesses for this purpose since 1925.
This system works and I'll illustrate the point here. Last month,
I received a nominal SOCAN royalty cheque that originated from
SESAC (the French Performance Rights organisation). The
monies were compensation for recent multiple radio usages of a
song (from the "Ptarmigan" album) entitled "Vancouver" that I
co-wrote with Glen Dias in 1973. This record has been out of print
since 1976. Strange but true. Vive la France!
Some new business owners may not be aware of these fees.
Some may not have been approached by a performance rights
organisation because their establishment has not yet come to the
attention of the copyright watchdogs. These owners will be
required to come on-line. Failure to do so can result in legal action
for damages and an injunction prohibiting the use of music. Sic
Imagine going out to dinner without the ambience of music, or
going to a nightclub devoid of tunage. Forget it! Exercise classes
would lack a certain dynamic without that high energy copyright
musical beat, don't you think?
Recently a small Gulf Island establishment was contacted by
SOCAN regarding their lack of a music license. The business
was featuring a live music format and came to the attention of
SOCAN either from a travelling SOCAN representative or possibly
through a free listing in the Cosmic Debris Musicians Magazine.
Apparently at the time, the proprietor was incensed to be hit up
for the legal licensing fee and contemplated dropping his music
format (Blame the band!). He might also have been heard to say
naughty words about the free Debris listing that may or may not
have brought his unlicensedness to SOCAN. (Blame the *%#@
free listing!). However, when the cafe was contacted prior to this
issue, music was heard playing in the background. Well guess
According to the SOCAN Tariff Summary Sheet:
Tariff #3A for Live Entertainment the last approved Fee is: 2.7%
of annual compensation for entertainment or a minimum annual
fee of $80.
Tariff #3B for Live Entertainment accompanied by Recorded
Music is: 1.8% of annual compensation for entertainment or a
minimum annual fee of $60.00
Tariff #15A for Background Music the fee is 10.96 per
sq.ft./$1.18 per sq. meter (minimum annual fee of $90.38
Tariff #18 Recorded Music for Dancing by Patrons: Based on
capacity, days per week & months per year in operation/ranging
from $172.15 per year & up.
Tariff #20 Karaoke: $148.80 if establishment operates with
karaoke no more than 3 days per week. $214.41 if it operates with
karaoke more than 3 days per week.
The service industry has to realise that music is a business too,
and without it, would be a pretty boring concept. Pay toll to the
troll! La-di-dee, la-di-dah, Go Dancing!
By the way, God Bless Club Owners Who Feature Live Music!
If you have any questions regarding the SOCAN Music License
and your business, write for an info package or call:
SOCAN, 1201 West Pender Street, Suite 400, Vancouver, B.C. V6E 2V2
(604) 669-5569 or 1-800-93-SOCAN or Fax: (604) 688-1142
Their Website: www.socan.ca
P.S. : Special thanks to Bruce and Megan at the Vancouver
Note: Monte Nordstrom has produced over 75 demos and has recorded 8 albums to
date (Nov '99). He performs regularly at numerous venues on Canada's West Coast.
Email Monte at:
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