Class action lawsuit against SOCAN over ‘unfair’ radio royalties

As expected, a class action lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN). The federal body is accused by many Quebec artists of having been unfair in 2019 and 2020 with regard to the redistribution of royalties linked to songs on the radio.

At the time, SOCAN had expanded the pool of radio stations considered for redistribution of copyright revenue. However, French-speaking radio stations therefore represented a much smaller share in the calculation. Result: the rights holders of works broadcast in Quebec would have lost approximately 36% of their income between April 2020 and September 2021. “A total amount estimated between 2 and 3 million dollars”, can we read in the court document submitted at the Montreal courthouse.

The situation was corrected by SOCAN last year, and Quebec copyright owners say they have since seen a 45% increase in their quotas. However, SOCAN refuses to compensate the artists and artisans of the music industry who have been penalized by the change in the method of calculating royalties.

This situation had already been denounced last week in an open letter signed by several big names in Quebec song, such as Ariane Moffat, Louis-Jean Cormier, Marjo, Gilles Vigneault or Vincent Vallières. They promised then to go ahead with a class action, which is now done. In all, more than 15,000 rights holders would have been harmed.


In the document filed in court by David Murphy, whose company specializes in copyright claims, it is stipulated that the mode of distribution of royalties adopted by SOCAN in 2019 has proven to be discriminatory towards Quebecers. SOCAN would thus violate the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. « SOCAN is an organization under federal jurisdiction and cannot engage in the unlawful act of discrimination of discriminating against individuals in the provision of goods and services on the basis of national or ethnic origin, » he said. -we.

The decision whether or not to pursue the procedure now rests with the court. If the class action is accepted, it will be up to the courts to determine the amount that SOCAN will have to pay.

The Association of Music Publishing Professionals (APEM) is not giving up hope of reaching common ground with SOCAN before that happens. The two parties met last week, but discussions were fruitless.

Joined by The dutySOCAN did not comment on Wednesday.

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