The Copyright Act is federal legislation in Canada that governs the reproduction of sound recordings in the public. Section 18(1) of the Act states that only the creator has the sole right to reproduce or consent to the act of reproduction. The creator of the sound recording is the originator. It would be very difficult for a DJ to obtain the consent directly from the owner to play a copy of his/her music and therefore copyright collectives manage and administer the program on behalf of the creators of sound recordings.
Audio Video Licensing Agency (AVLA) is the copyright collective that administers the licensing in Canada on behalf of the originators of sound recordings or record label companies for public use. They collect the licensing fees directly from DJs and banquet hall managers to ensure compliance.
A license is required anytime you are reproducing music in the public. If DJs are playing the original sound recording, a license is not required. An original medium can be a CD, cassette or vinyl album. These can be identified by the original artwork and logo. A DJ license is only required when DJs reproduce sound recordings on a recording medium.
A regular DJ license is required if a DJ is reproducing music on a CD-R, cassette or mini disc. This permits DJs to reproduce music up to 100 physical mediums. An additional license is required for each additional 100 physical mediums. The cost of a standard license per year varies in each province and it is very minimal.
A hard drive license is required when DJs reproduce music on their hard drive in MP3 format. DJs may copy as many sound recordings as required, however, for each additional hard drive; an additional license is required. The hard drive license fees also vary in each province and the fee is a few hundred dollars per year. All original licenses must be displayed at the station where the DJ is performing.
Downloading music for public purposes is illegal. Some programs include, but are not limited to: Kazaa and eDonkey. You can download this music for private enjoyment but when you are playing this music in the public forum, this is illegal. However, “PromoOnly” which is an AVLA licensed music service has introduced the first legal pay per track download site in Canada for commercial subscribers. This new service is called PODDS and is the first legal alternative for Djs. Users of this product are permitted one download and 3 burns per track. If the DJs source is only PODDS, they do not require a license.
If a DJ is subscribing to an AVLA Music Supply Service CD, a license is not required, as these subscriptions are already AVLA licensed. However, you cannot copy Music Supply Service CDs. This is illegal. As a DJ, you want to convey a professional image to your clients. By doing so, you can ensure that all your sound recordings are properly licensed to avoid the risks of violating the Copyright Act.
In summary, just remember that a license will be required anytime you copy onto a medium. You do not need a license if you are playing the original CD at your function. These licenses can be obtained by application to Audio Video Licensing Agency at http://www.avla.ca Downloading music at public functions is strictly prohibited, and copying AVLA Music Supply Services CDs is also illegal.
Those of you planning your wedding, social or banquet, ensure your DJs sound recordings are properly licensed, especially when they are copying music. Ask the DJs for their license, and check to see that it is valid by looking at the expiry date.