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Musician objects to collection of salary information by professional organization

PIPEDA Case Summary #2001-4

[Section 2]


A musician complained that the professional organization representing his interests had, without his consent, collected personal information about him, namely his annual salary, from his employer.

Summary of Investigation

The complainant is the only musician working in a certain establishment. One of the activities of the professional organization in question is to collect copyright dues for its members, subject to the requirements of the Copyright Act. In order to file the applicable tariff with the Copyright Board and collect the copyright dues, the organization first needs to know the total entertainment budget of a given establishment. The complainant was concerned that, since he was the only musician at the establishment in question, a third-party might be able to identify him as the sole recipient of the salary allotment included in the entertainment budget. However, in collecting such information, the organization has no interest in knowing which musicians or how many are working in the establishment and therefore does not collect names or numbers. Nor does it publish or communicate to third parties the information it collects in respect of the establishment.

Commissioner's Findings 

Issued July 23, 2001

Jurisdiction: The professional organization in question stated that it was subject to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The Commissioner did not dispute this position.

Application: Section 2 of the Act defines personal information to be ". information about an identifiable individual .".

On the evidence, the Commissioner was satisfied that the professional organization had the legal authority to collect the information at issue and that the collection did not involve personal information about an identifiable individual. He found that the collection was therefore not subject to the requirements of the Act.

The Commissioner concluded that the complaint was not well-founded.

Further Considerations

In conveying his findings, the Commissioner commented: "Having established that the information collected is not personal, I need not make a finding on its appropriateness with respect to sections 4.3 (consent) and 4.4 (limiting collection) of Schedule 1 or to section 7 (collection without knowledge or consent) of the Act, which might otherwise have applied in this case."

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