Music Artist Coalition Looks to Tax YouTube, Netflix

Dennis Faas's picture

A coalition of Canadian singers and songwriters have demanded that the Copyright Board of Canada immediately start awarding royalties at the expense of popular online media destinations that continue to host content.

The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) filed an interim tariff application after royalties were given to Access Copyright, an organization founded in 1988 by a group of authors and publishers for the purpose of "protecting the value of their intellectual property and ensuring fair compensation when their works are copied."

SOCAN now looks for similar success.

Popular Media Sites Targeted

If SOCAN can convince the Copyright Board of Canada to approve their tariff proposal, popular media sites like YouTube, Netflix, Apple and Sony would not begin tax payments from the date the law has been enacted.

Rather, SOCAN seeks compensation from these companies between 2007-2012, which could generate millions of dollars in back pay for Canadian singers and songwriters. (Source:

It also appears as if SOCAN will not allow the Copyright Board of Canada to determine what constitutes an "acceptable" tax rate. The organization has created an outline that shows what percentage should be taxed, depending on the service and host "sharing" their intellectual property.

SOCAN hopes that streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV and Sony Crackle would be taxed around 1.9 per cent of gross revenues. For user-generated sites like YouTube, however, SOCAN recommends payment from 6.8 per cent of advertising revenue incurred from music videos and 1.9 per cent from all other audiovisual content.

Netflix Tax Contribution Could Surpass $1 Million

If the tariff proposal is indeed passed, the compensation to SOCAN would be substantial.

According to Michael Geist, an e-commerce professor at the University of Ottawa, "Netflix alone appears headed to generate $50 million in revenue in Canada this year, resulting in a SOCAN payment of nearly $1 million per year." (Source:

The Copyright Board of Canada has yet to provide a comment, but a review of the issue has been initiated.

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