Blog Post

Composers Will Ask For Tax On Ringtones

Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada is lobbying the Copyright Board for a “tax on ringtones”.

The group is arguing that those who create music should be able to reap any benefits that come from new uses of the songs. Ringtones replace the traditional ring on mobile phones with recognizable snippets of popular songs, jingles and sound effects.

“It’s a brand new use of music,” said Paul Spurgeon, counsel for SOCAN. “As a result it requires a payment for that use.”

SOCAN wants to collect 10 per cent of the revenue from ringtones with a minimum fee of 20 cents each and is also seeking a 15% tariff on ringback tones.
I’m really confused about this — as far as I’m aware ringtone publishers already pay license fees to use the music, that is, the underlying composition. Maybe things are different in Canada…but more than that I’m not sure what it has to do with SOCAN, which deals solely with “performing rights” — “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)”.
Are they seriously suggesting that when a ringtone is played because someone called a mobile phone it constitutes a “public performance”? Aside from that I can’t work out what rights they think they have…any ideas?
Perhaps telling, the telcos and mobile organizations that are opposing the proposal are joined by the Canadian Recording Industry Association…(via Ringtonia)
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