Telecommunication vs Communication Signal

Telecommunication vs Communication Signal

Telecommunication and Communication Signal in Canadian Copyright Act

This is a bilingual post. Chinese version is following the English one.

Easy124, a reader of this blog, sent me some provisions in Canadian Copyright Act, and asked me some questions on the performer’s rights in that law.

Actually I am not among professionals specially in Canadian law. Last time I read the Canadian Copyright Act was two months ago when I was revising my paper on orphan Works. So to me, his questions are opportunities for my study rather than enquires for somehow expertise.

There are three questions raised by Easy. I have mentioned one of them in a former post, which is about the unauthorized fixation of a performer’s performance. Here I’d like to discuss another interesting question: difference between "telecommunication" and "communication signal". The last question about the Right to Remuneration will be disscussed  later.

In Section 15 (1) (a) of Canada Copyright  Act, the law noted that, if a performance is not fixed, its performer has the right:

(i) to communicate it to the public by telecommunication,
(ii) to perform it in public, where it is communicated to the public by telecommunication otherwise than by communication signal, and
(iii) to fix it in any material form,

Easy’s question are: What’s the difference between "telecommunication" and "communication signal"? Why the copyright is hereby refined to "perform [the performance] in public, where it is communicated to the public by telecommunication otherwise than by communication signal"?

In fact, these two terms has been legally defined in Sec. 2 of the Canadian Copyright Act:

"communication signal" means radio waves transmitted through space without any artificial guide, for reception by the public;

"telecommunication" means any transmission of signs, signals, writing, images or sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, visual, optical or other electromagnetic system;

Therefore, any interpretation to these two terms shall not be out of the above definitions, even if it is of a common understanding in daily life. One may find that the "communication signal" is hereby a sub-concept of "telecommunication". As to the performer’s right, "communicated by telecommunication" covers any means of transmitting the performance.

In Sec. 15 (1) (a) (i), when a performance is performed NOT in public (ex. perform a song in studio), she has the right to communicate her performance "by telecommunication". That means, any communication by telecommunication must be authorized by the performer.

However, in case of public performance like a concert, which is regulated in Sec. 15 (1) (a) (ii), the performer owns merely the right to communicate her performance by telecommunication but exclude the communication signal. That means, if a Radio program or a TV station hope to broadcast a public vocal concert, it  would not have to get the permission from the performer.

At the same time, the Radio program’s broadcasting must comply with two premises:

(1) NOT outside of the above definition of communication signal. That means its radio waves must float in the air and can be recieved by anyone who wants get them.

(2) NOT fix the performance because this sub-section is under the Sec. 15 (1) (a), which is ONLY dealing with the performer’s right when the performance is not fixed. This requires the radio program must be a live one, which is transmitted instantly and cannot  be replayed. According to sub-section (iii) in Sec. 15 (1) (a), either the radio station or the recipient of the radio waves shall not fix the performance unless they get the authorization from the performer.



Easy提了三个问题,其中一个关于未经许可而录制的录音制品的利用的问题,已经在另一篇帖子里讨论过(鼠标砸此处)。今天讨论第二个问题:“telecommunication”和“communication signal”的区别。第三个问题是有关取得报酬权的,晚些有时间再讨论。

加拿大版权法第15条第(1)款第(a)项[Sec. 15 (1) (a)]规定,如果一个表演未被固定,则表演者:

(ii)有权在公众场合表演,并且通过“telecommunication”向公众传播,但不包括“communication signal”的方式;以及

  Easy的问题是:“telecommunication”和“communication signal”的区别是什么呢?为什么第(ii)小项的表演者权涉及“telecommunication”,但不包括“communication signal”呢?


“communication signal”指无线电波,其通过空气向公众传播,且没有任何人工的方向性指引。

  既然法律有规定,那么不管通常人们对这两个词汇的理解如何,在加拿大版权法中这两个词汇就只是指上述涵义。分析这个法定定义,可以发现:“communication signal”是“telecommunication”的下位概念。对表演者权来说,通过“telecommunication”向公众传播包括了通过“communication signal”的形式。

在第(i)小项中,当表演不属于公共表演的时候,表演者有权控制所有的传播形式,包括“communication signal”。也就是说,未经表演者许可,任何形式的telecommunication都是不行的。

第(ii)小项是有关公开表演的,当表演是在公共场所进行的时候,表演者的权利被稍微限制——她仍有权控制“telecommunication”,但不再可以限制“communication signal”形式的传播——其实就是中国著作权法中的“广播”形式。在这种情况下,广播台或电视台可以不经许可自由地播放她的现场表演。


一是其行为没有超过上述定义中的“communication signal”的范围,即必须是以通过空气(当然,如果技术可行,也可以包括水体,原文中用的是space)传送的无线电波形式,并且任何想接收这些无线电信号的人都可以自由地接收。