June 20, 1936 (18th Parliament, 1st Session)


Charles Hazlitt Cahan

Conservative (1867-1942)


-how long do you think the parliament of Canada would allow the operation of such a super-monopoly as that to continue? That is similar to the case we are now dealing with. We are dealing with a
quasi-criminal attempt to exact excessive fees and charges from hotels, from broadcasting companies, and from every cafe or restaurant which uses music. We are not abolishing the right to receive compensation. This bill, which the government has introduced simply places it in the power of and imposes the duty and responsibility upon an independent body now to be created to ascertain in each case whether the price asked is equitable and just or whether it constitutes an undue exaction.
I am glad to know that at last there have been found four or five or six Canadian authors who since this last investigation was made have been induced to join the Canadian society. I assume that the literature which has come to me, some of it most extravagantly abusive, so that I regard it as a breach of the privileges of this house that it should be sent to a member of parliament, emanates from the three or four Canadians who by some means have been induced to become identified with this society. I can only hope that they enjoy the pleasure of sending this anonymous correspondence to members of parliament and to former ministers. I simply say to them that as far as I am concerned it does not affect my temper in the slightest. This Canadian Performing Right Society, which, despite all that is stated by the hon. member for Ottawa East, is the only society at present in Canada that is prejudicially affected, and it has for four or five years been defying the parliament of Canada, by stating that neither the government nor parliament dare regulate its proceedings. They are not acting on behalf of the authors of this country or on behalf of the authors of any other country. They are not mere agents to receive fees for the authors. Ninety per cent of these musical compositions are owned by publishers, and have been so owned since they were first published. It was only when the objection was made that they did not really represent the authors that they undertook as a subterfuge to grant a certain portion of their receipts to the authors of the musical works concerned. This society stated in the evidence which came before the committee of which I was chairman that the rights of these authors and publishers had been transferred to it, and this legislation deals only with a society which has acquired musical works and deals in the acquisition of musical works and in the licensing or granting of licences for the performance of such works in Canada. As the law now stands and as reenacted in this bill it applies to:
10. (1) Each society, association or company which carries on in Canada the business of acquiring copyrights or dramatico-musical or
Copyright Amendment Act

musical works or of performing rights therein, and which deals with or in the issue or grant of licences for the performance in Canada of dramatico-musical or musical works in which copyright subsists, shall, from time to time

Two facts must concur before this statute applies. First, the society must acquire the copyright of the musical works, and then it must proceed to deal with the licensing of such works. I suggest that this company, incorporated under the laws of this country, incorporated here in order to obviate certain obligations which would apply in case it was not incorporated here, has to submit to such legislation as the parliament of Canada enacts within its legislative jurisdiction.
I do not intend to pursue the matter further, no matter what objection may be taken, except to say that in the course of the examination of Mr. Jamieson, the president of the Canadian Performing Right Society, before the committee of which I was chairman, he had proceeded to cite a decision of the English court to the effect that copyright is a privilege or monopoly right conferred by statute, and in regard to that I questioned him as follows:
Q. It is a monopoly or privilege conferred by statute upon an individual owner or author?
A. Right.
Q. But you-your company is a supermonopoly. In your company-thirty thousand men have joined together and vested in your company the right to deal for the whole thirty thousand, so that when, in the ordinary course, a broadcasting company approaches you, you say, "Our terms for the use of the works to the number of two and a half million or three million of these thirty thousand authors are granted to you wholesale, for a certain price which we fix." Now, that is new. That super-monopoly, or combination, which you represent is a combination of two million five hundred thousand little monopolies which are created by statute. We do not want to interfere with the author, we do not want to prejudice the author; but we do desire to arrive at some mode, or method, by which we can regulate this super-monopoly of performing rights, which, by virtue of an international combination, is not found in any other trade?
A. We appreciate, sir, all that you have said; but let me make one point: We must associate in order to protect.
I wish to add to that observation the fact that even under the international convention of Berne, revised at Rome and now about to be again revised at Brussels, the author who is a national of one country has only the rights which are specifically granted by the convention, and the rights which are accorded him by the domestic legislation of any other country which is a member of the union. There is not one line in the Rome convention which authorizes either a combination of authors or the fixing of prices by such a com-

bination or, in fact, the fixing of prices by an individual author in violation of domestic legislation.

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