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Canadian Supreme Court ends royalties on downloaded content

13 Jul 2012

The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled that publishers are not entitled to additional royalties for downloaded goods, handing down a landmark copyright decision.

The court has overturned a previous lower court decision that allowed royalty collection groups to collect tariffs on downloaded goods.

The court voted against the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers who had been collecting tariffs on member's music that was downloaded or streamed.

"The internet should be seen as a technological taxi that delivers a durable copy of the same work to the end user," said Justices Rosalie Abella and Michael Moldaver.

"The traditional balance in copyright between promoting the public interest in the encouragement and dissemination of works and obtaining a just reward for the creators of those works should be preserved in the digital environment."

Before the court's ruling, Canadians were forced to pay a tariff on goods downloaded from the internet. Digitally downloaded goods were afforded additional charges that went to the content creators as royalties.

Following the court's ruling those additional tariff will be scraped. The Canadian Court found that items downloaded from the internet should be treated under the same copyright regulations as items bought in a brick and mortar store.

Content creators will still be afforded the same royalties they receive for traditional purchases. However, they will no longer receive additional compensation for digitally bought goods.

The Canadian Supreme Courts decision stemmed from five cases that were presented for deliberation last December.

Among the other cases, the court decided that sample songs from music services were not applicable to royalties and that streaming goods should be held to same copyright standards as broadcast media.

The Courts ruling comes in a recent string of digital copyright cases around the globe. Oracle recently lost a ruling in a European Union Court that stated that copyright holders can't stop the digital sale of used software. The European Commission also recently released plans to consolidate the digital music marketplace across the EU.

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James Dohnert

James is a freelance writer and editor. In addition to ClickZ, his work has appeared in publications like V3, The Commonwealth Club,, and Shonen Jump magazine. He studied Journalism at Weber State University.

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