CBC bans use of Creative Commons music

The CBC has discontinued its use of Creative Commons licensed music
(which is free) and entered into an exclusive contract with APM Music

The ban was brought under fire in the comments section of the CBC’s podcast series, Spark. The story starts innocently enough, with a question from a listener who asked CBC’s Dan Misener to tell him which Creative Commons (CC) songs were used in a recent podcast. After commenters urged CBC to respond by offering reminders that as a public broadcaster the public has the right to see any contracts, CBC staffers replied that the restriction on CC content was result of a collective agreement with APM. “In other words,” writes law professor Michael Geist on his blog, “groups are actively working to block the use of Creative Commons licenced alternatives in their contractual language.

Geist continues:

“The CBC obviously isn’t required
use Creative Commons licenced music, but this highlights an instance
where at least one of its programs wants to use it and groups that
purport to support artists’ right to choose the rights associated with
their work is trying to stop them from doing so.”

Here are some excerpts from the comment thread that followed the initial question:

Dan Misener:
There’s simply no Creative Commons music used in this episode. By management decree, CBC podcasts are no longer permitted to use CC music. Instead, we’re using the APM Music library (http://www.apmmusic.com/), which is copyright cleared and fully licensed by the CBC.

Truth be told, in order to respect collective agreements we have with certain talent unions, we can’t use music published with Creative Commons licenses.
– Lily (CBC Radio Podcasting)

It turned out that our use of Creative Commons licensed music was going against some of the details in collective agreements we hold with certain talent agencies. As such, we had to discontinue our use of it.
– Lily (CBC Radio Podcasting)

Russell McOrmond
That isn’t a good enough answer. If ACTRA or some other union is making such demands in contracts, then we have the right to see them. Please post a link to the contract so that I and the lawyers at Creative Commons Canada can read and respond. Not all clauses in contracts like these are enforceable or legal. Among other things these contracts can come into play at Copyright Board proceedings or Competition Bureau investigations.

I asked around and it sounds like APM was the most cost effective choice for production music. We’re actually simply piggy-backing off the use license acquired from CBC Television (a license that can be used for the entire network).
– Lily (CBC Radio Podcasting)

Russell McOrmond:
I agree it is unsettling, and plan to talk to a few lawyers to see how best to proceed. Signing anti-competetive contracts that exclude public licensing is not something we should ever see from a “public” broadcaster. It is interesting to contrast with TVO which has CC licensed shows, or the BBC which designed their own public licenses to release full shows.