Canada’s Supreme Court has ruled that copyright tariffs should not be levied on cable companies or other digital providers when music is downloaded, but that artists should be compensated when music is streamed online.

The high court ruled on Thursday that downloading an individual file is not considered a communication to the public within the Copyright Act, but that streaming music online is not a private transaction and should be subject to fees currently in place.

Streaming refers to watching or listening to videos and music online while downloading refers to saving a file to your hard drive.

Canada’s Supreme Court partly overturned a lower court decision that had allowed an organisation representing musicians and the recording industry to collect tariffs for both activities for its members.

More In: Comment | Opinion