Mandate, Jurisdiction & Role

Mandate and role

The Copyright Board of Canada is the administrative tribunal that sets the royalties to be paid for the use of copyrighted works, when the copyright on such works are being administered collectively by a society. By making decisions on proposed tariffs, the Board helps to define the economic parameters that frame the cycle of use of works protected by copyright.

The mandate of the Board is defined in Part VII of the Copyright Act. The Act provides that the Board intervenes in three areas, namely approving tariffs for works whose rights are managed by collective societies, the granting of licences for the use of works for which the right owners cannot be found, and arbitration in the event a collective society and user cannot agree on royalties.

As an independent tribunal, the Board reports on its administrative activities to Parliament through the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.


Tariffs and royalties

The Board is mainly responsible for approving tariffs for:

  • the use of musical works, sound recordings and public performances by a wide range of entities including television stations, satellite radio, online music services, hotels and restaurants;
  • the use of literary works by educational institutions and governments;
  • the retransmission of distant television and radio signals, or the reproduction and public performance of current affairs programs or comments and any other television and radio broadcast, by educational establishments for educational purposes; and
  • the manufacture or import of blank audio media for private copying purposes.

Unlocatable owners

When the copyright owner cannot be found, the Board may issue a non-exclusive licence, on application, for the use of a published work, the fixation of a performance, a published sound recording or the fixation of a communication signal.

Arbitration and Agreements

The Board sometimes acts as an arbitrator between the various stakeholders (collective societies, users, individuals) in order to protect the public interest. In this spirit, it is responsible for:

  • determining the fees payable by a user to a collective society, if there is a disagreement;
  • examining the agreements reached between copyright collectives and users that are filed with the Board by one of the party if requested to do so by the Commissioner of Competition;
  • establishing the compensation to be paid by a copyright owner to a person for ceasing to perform protected acts, following the accession of a country to the Berne Convention, the Universal Convention or the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, and that were not previously protected.