The Federal Court of Canada has issued its decision
(not yet online) in the judicial review of the Copyright Board of Canada's ringtone decision. The court upheld the decision, marking a big win for SOCAN and a loss for the wireless providers (CWTA, Bell Mobility, Telus) who challenged the Board's decision. The court addressed two primary issues – first, whether the transmission of a ringtone to a cellphone is a "communication" under the Copyright Act and second, whether it is a "communication to the public." While the wireless carriers argued that a communication must only include a transmission that is intended to be heard simultaneously or immediately upon transmission, the court disagreed, ruling that "the wireless transmission of a musical ringtone to a cellphone is a communication, whether the owner of the cellphone accesses it immediately in order to hear the music, or at some later time."
The potentially more important line of reasoning involves whether the transmission of the ringtone is a "communication to the public."