Simultaneous Rediffusion by Cable Television Operators in Canada and the Problems of Nonpayment of Copyright Royalties

01 Jan 1986

This Article surveys a controversial issue involving both Canadian and United States copyright interest groups. Simultaneous rediffusion involves the unauthorized reception and retransmission or rediffusion of copyrighted United States broadcast programming by foreign cable television systems. The issue has important ramifications for a future revision of the copyright by the Canadian Parliament as indicated in the Revision of Copyright Subcommittee Report of October 1985 and is useful to an examination of United States copyright principles and the international role of the United States in copyright.

This author's conclusion is that compulsory license for simultaneous rediffusion of broadcast signals is a proper course to take in the development of a long-term copyright policy in Canada. Economic studies indicate the feasibility of a rediffusion right for copyright owners at a minimal expense to cable television (CATV) systems that may be absorbed as subscription levels climb. Canadian Satellite Communications (CANCOM) and future superstation development should assure increased viewership for CATV systems to make up for any early revenue declines due to increased royalty payments through any performing rights organizations like Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada (CAPAC). Whether they be foreign nationals or Canadians, the rights of copyright owners must be balanced against the interest of established industry groups like CATV system owners and the national interest in Canadian cultural development. By maintaining a rediffusion right, Canadian copyright remains true to copyright principles and law, and does not become solely a means of accomplishing immediate Canadian cultural objectives perhaps feasible through other means.