The Copyright in Ringtones

If you can’t bear to listen to another electronic rendition of Beethoven’s 9th while you’re watching a movie or enjoying a moment at the theatre, then this decision may give you some satisfaction. In a decision from August 2006 [link], the Canadian Copyright Board decided that ringtones do constitute a “substantial part” of a musical work, and so deserve a tariff all their own. The Board certified a new tariff for downloading ringtones for 2003 – 2005. The royalty is set at 6% of the price paid by the customer or a minimum of $0.06 per ringtone. The fact that the royalties generated by the new tariff will be about $1,570,000 for 2005 shows just how many ringtones are being downloaded annually. The royalty represents a small slice of the pie: revenues generated by ringtone retail sales in Canada are predicted to reach $30 million in 2006. So it probably won’t deter ringtones users, and you won’t ever see a dime (unless you’re a copyright owner) but it may help to ease the pain the next time you hear another electronic ditty on your trip to the movies.

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