1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

SOCAN Announces New Arrangement for YouTube Revenues

In early November, SOCAN (the Canadian performing rights collective) announced the entering into of a new agreement which probably should have garnered more attention than it did: YouTube earnings unlocked for SOCAN members.

The basics of the new arrangement are this: SOCAN has entered into an agreement with Audiam, an organization which licenses “synchronization” right in compositions and recordings (as described in the Audiam FAQ), to collect revenues from YouTube arising from the use of songs in videos uploaded to YouTube. Audiam itself has evidently entered into an arrangement with YouTube for the license of the “synchronization” rights in compositions and recordings  – the “synchronization” right is the right to control the “pairing” or “synchronizing” of compositions or recordings with visual elements; when a recording of a song is used in a video, a license is required from the owners of rights in the composition and the recording of that composition (if just the composition is used, e.g., when a video consists of the live performance of a composition, then just the license from the owner of rights in the composition is required). The revenue in question arises from advertising revenues which YouTube collects for ads which are shown in conjunction with the revenues. SOCAN will be collecting from Audiam revenues payable to the owners/administrators of rights in the compositions (presumably the owners of the rights in the recordings will be contracting directly with Audiam or YouTube). Notably, the Audiam arrangement includes revenues from what I’ll call “unauthorized” videos – in other words, Audiam collects revenues not just from “official” videos which the copyright owners have created and uploaded to YouTube, but from “user-generated” videos, such as the proverbial “dancing baby” video where someone uses a song in conjunction with a video the user themselves has created.

A number of elements make this new arrangement and announcement notable, including the following:

  • SOCAN is generally not associated with the collection of synchronization revenues, as that has in the past been something which publishers have either administered themselves or licensed through the CMRRA (Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency) – in other words, this deal with Audiam represents an expansion of the scope of rights historically administered by SOCAN
  • as the SOCAN announcement notes, “Earlier in 2013, SOCAN granted YouTube a performing rights license for Canada covering the years from 2007 to the present” – that appears to be a bespoke license granted by SOCAN to YouTube, outside the Tariff 22 structure
  • one factor not addressed by the announcement (and there’s no reason to expect that it should or would have been) is how this interfaces (or not) with the “Non-Commercial User-Generated Content”  provision found in Section 29.21 of the Copyright Act (Canada) – that provision had been referred to by many (including me) using the short-hand “YouTube exception”; might this be taken as an admission that YouTube itself cannot rely on the shelter provided by Section 29.21?

A move away from the “omnibus” tariff process and towards “bespoke” licensing arrangements seems important and one worth further discussion – it will be interesting to see whether similar future SOCAN announcements will be made with respect to other online platforms.

,

SOCAN Announces New Arrangement for YouTube Revenues

YouTube’s Music Royalty Negotiations

Robert Andrews, writing at paidContent.org, provides a link-rich post on YouTube’s ongoing negotiations with UK and European music collectives regarding royalties payable each time a composition is streamed on the site.  Particularly interesting is the breakdown of what the “standard” royalty rates are for online on-demand streaming (YouTube evidently manages to negotiate more favourable rates than the standard) and what they translate into in terms of actual revenue for publishers and artists.

As Andrews notes, PRS for Music (the UK performing and mechanical rights society) has an on-demand streaming rate of £0.00085 per track – which means that a track played one million times in the UK via on-demand streaming merits £850 in royalty payments (which would then presumably be split among the publisher and composer(s)).  GEMA, the German collecting society, has a standard royalty rate of €0.1278 (£0.11) – meaning that the same track streamed one million times in Germany results in £110,000 in royalty payments – or, as Andrews notes, approximately 130 times what is payable in the UK.

The Canadian approach is slightly different – and also much more confusing.  The approach used by SOCAN in its tariffs setting royalties for online music use, such as those set out in Tariff 22A and Tariff 22F (each applicable through 2006), set a “royalty” rate which is calculated as a portion of the service provider’s revenues, rather than being a fixed amount per track.  That being said, none of the existing tariffs (B through G are currently under appeal in the federal courts) apply to social networking sites or user-generated content sharing sites (such as YouTube).  McCarthy Tetrault provides a useful overview of the tariffs in this short article by Barry Sookman and Daniel Glover.

,

YouTube’s Music Royalty Negotiations