Canada proposes $21/gig levy on portable MP3 players (PDF link)
March 11, 2002 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Canada proposes $21/gig levy on portable MP3 players (PDF link) Canada's Copyright Board wants a levy on music devices with nonremovable hard drives, such as the iPod. We already have a levy on blank CDs and tapes, which will also rise. In Canada, it's legal to copy music you don't own, so these levies are used to compensate artists for lost revenue. A per-gig levy seems ill-conceived to me. The Archos Jukebox already goes up to 20 gigs ($400 tax on a $550 product!) and these devices won't be getting any smaller.
posted by Yogurt (23 comments total)
The various levies are listed on page 7 of the PDF. The story hasn't made it to any news site that I could find.
posted by Yogurt at 8:15 AM on March 11, 2002

So would a Pocket PC be classed as a portable MP3 player?

Given that there is already a levy on CD's, cassette tapes, and even university education (Canadian university students pay a flat fee to counter the rampent photocopy copyright violation that goes on) this seems inevitable with MP3 players.

My beef is the size of the proposed levy. $21/gig is a lot. When you compare it to the audio CD levy of 77 cents. Since CDs can hold 700 MB then levy for MP3 players would represent a 2100% increase. Ouch!

Maybe we should all stop listening to music?
posted by srboisvert at 8:34 AM on March 11, 2002

J.F.C., are we gonna have to take up our confiscated guns and hunt down the arsehole who's insisting that we can't listen to music we already own without paying a levy on it?

I swear that if this levy goes through I will never, ever purchase another CD again in my life, retail or second-hand.

Regardless your nationality, please write to the Canadian Copyright Board!


Include this text: I intend to participate actively to the process leading to the certification of the private copying tariff. Consequently, this constitutes my formal objection to the proposed statement filed by CPCC.

I have read the information set out in the Board.s notice published in the Canada Gazette on March 9, 2002 with CPCC's proposed statement. I understand the duties that I undertake as an objector and intend to abide by them.

Include this information: Objections must briefly state the reasons therefor, and must indicate the name, address, telephone number, facsimile number
and electronic mail address of the objector. Objections must also state if the objector intends to participate
in the pre-hearing conference to be held on Thursday, May 23, 2002 at 10:00 a.m.

Make a difference! If we can keep Canada from making this mistake, it's a first step toward keeping other nations from doing it!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 AM on March 11, 2002

...just as an aside, the Canadian authorities will cheerfully disregard the comments of any non-citizen.
posted by aramaic at 8:49 AM on March 11, 2002

Blame Canada!
posted by adampsyche at 8:51 AM on March 11, 2002

Then we'll all have to become Canadian citizens, won't we?
posted by yerfatma at 8:52 AM on March 11, 2002

It would be so much more meaningful, five fresh, if people took the time to craft their own words around the use of 'I'. I think your heart is in the right place, but encouraging people to use canned text is up there with asking them to use canned arguments, etc. Overall it hurts the process.
posted by holycola at 8:57 AM on March 11, 2002

This is insane. They're going to impose a levy on flash media and microdrives: digital camera users are going to pay a significant levy to reimburse copyright-holders, simply because they could be used in MP3 players. Someone explain to these fuckwits that MP3 players are not the only use for such media. Since I'm Canadian, that may as well be me . . .
posted by mcwetboy at 8:59 AM on March 11, 2002

Holycola: The Copyright Board requires that you use those stock paragraphs in any response you submit. It's distasteful and discourages public comment, but Five Fresh Fish isn't the one requiring the canned language. My government is!
posted by Yogurt at 9:02 AM on March 11, 2002

Feel free to spin your own letter based on my letter. Please don't copy it wholesale, as that will lessen its validity.

- - -

Formal objection re: Statement of Proposed Levies to be Collected by CPCC
for the Sale, in Canada, of Blank Audio Recording Media for the Years 2003
and 2004.

Required boilerplate follows my objection.

Statement of Objection:

I strongly object to the current and proposed levy structure. I do not
anticipate *EVER* recording copyrighted Canadian audio recordings to CD-R:
my use of CD-R is for business data backup. Yet the Copyright Board has by
default levied me as a "guilty" CD-R user.

I strongly object to the proposal to levy the sale of DVD-R. My data
backup needs are going to require the use of DVD-R, as the data capacity is
so much greater. But the Copyright Board is, once again, going to consider
me "guilty" without proof, and charge me for copying *MY OWN* business
data?! This is simply outrageous!

My Sony digital camera uses "stick" memory for storage. Once again, the
Copyright Board sees fit to charge a levy against me, because these same
memory sticks can be used in Sony's MP3 player. Once again, the Copyright
Board is overstepping its mandate in a most grotesque way, charging me
"guilty." Once again, I am angry that I am being forced to pay Canadian
artists for *NOT* listening to their music.

I also object to the levy on MP3 devices. The Canadian Copyright Act
permits personal-use copying of audio recordings. Theprimary use of MP3
devices is to protect purchasers' in vestment in expensive, bulky,
scratch-prone CDs by allowing the purchaser to convert the audio recording
to a temporary, portable, damage-proof format. This usage can not be
fairly levied: for the artists, there is no difference between a user
listening to their original CD, or to their copy of their original CD.

I am very certain that the only consequence of levying CD-R, DVD-R, stick
memory, and MP3 players will be to cause law-abiding citizens to justify
wholesale music piracy. The net effect will inevitably be reduced income
for Canadian artists, as people begin to dedicate their efforts to avoiding
paying retail prices for music.

IN CONCLUSION: the levies hurt business owners like myself, who use CD-R,
DVD-R, and memory sticks for data backup and photography. The levies
unfairly tax us for usage that is not regulated by the Copyright Board; and
the Copyright Board is grossly overstepping its mandate in charging levies
against our business use of the media. Finally, Canadian artists will
inevitably be hurt by the levy, as it provides indignant consumers a
justification for stealing music.


I intend to participate actively to the process leading to the
certification of the private copying tariff. Consequently, this constitutes
my formal objection to the proposed statement filed by CPCC.

I have read the information set out in the Board's notice published in the
Canada Gazette on March 9, 2002 with CPCC's proposed statement. I
understand the duties that I undertake as an objector and intend to abide
by them.

Name: XXX
Address: XXX
Telephone: XXX
Fax: XXX
EMail: XXX
Attending pre-hearing conference: No.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:09 AM on March 11, 2002

The Copyright Board will, of course, not include foreign-nation protests against the levy... but if there is a strong foreign protest, they will certainly notice that this is a universally unpopular idea, and that will have some impact on their thinking.

IMO, the only solution will be to bitch-slap them with a lawsuit. I think it is criminal that I am paying a levy for using the media for data archival.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 AM on March 11, 2002

Doing some thinking about this. Tactically, the way to do this is to get lower rates than proposed; we won't get anywhere if we oppose them outright.

Levies are already in place for CD-R/CD-RW (though they're raising them in this proposal). The question is whether levies proposed for DVD-R, internal hard drives and flash media/microdrives aren't disproportionate. To some extent this is already the case:

CD-R/CD-RW: $0.59, or $0.84/MB
Internal hard drives: $0.21/MB
Flash memory, microdrives: $0.08/MB
DVD-R: $2.27, or $0.00004/MB

posted by mcwetboy at 9:44 AM on March 11, 2002

(continued from above; getting error messages when posting larger messages)

Doesn't look too bad per megabyte, but per item that packs a wallop: $2.27 for a DVD-R that costs $8 in Canada, $12.50 on a $40 five-pack, and is more likely used for homemade DVDs and data backup; $40 on a 512 MB card or Microdrive to be used in someone's CoolPix; $100 on a $600 iPod.

Definitely large-capacity hard-drive-based MP3 players are getting hit the most here, and that's probably as it should be, if you accept the premise that a levy should be imposed in the first place (which I suspect many of you don't, but I don't think we're going to win that argument), since only hard-drive-based MP3 players are 100% certain to be playing music.
posted by mcwetboy at 9:49 AM on March 11, 2002

The more purposes a given media has, the less likely it is that a given disc or card is going to be used for music, the more sensible it would be to have a lower per-gigabyte levy. This seems to be the case here, though I think an argument could be made that the proposed levies should be lower still. I wish I had some statistics on flash media use, but I'll bet real money that it's overwhelmingly for digital cameras.

(Apologies for the multiple posts, but it's been a real bitch getting all of this posted, for some reason.)
posted by mcwetboy at 9:50 AM on March 11, 2002

$0.60 on a CD-R that currently costs $0.60 seems like a disproportionately large levy, too.

The argument that MP3 players should be levied is absurd: it is legal to re-record your music. For the artist, it should make no difference whether I listen to my original CD or an MP3 copy of same. For me, there's a heck of a difference: with the MP3 I can mix my own selection, and I don't risk losing or damaging my original media.

There should be no levies whatsoever for CD-R, DVD-R, microdrives, and stick memory: any levy is punishing a very large number of people who are not using the media for audio recording.

I think the levy is inevitably going to hurt the artists. I know I'll be making pirate copies of music, and feel fully justified in doing so. They want to fuck me over, I got no problem fucking them over. Morals and ethics be damned: I'm gunning for straight-up revenge.

Gahd, this pisses me off. I'm trying to run a frigging business here, and Celine Dion is pickpocketing me.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:56 AM on March 11, 2002

I'm not against the idea of a levy in general. As digital copying spreads, it might make more sense to support music as a common good, like a museum or a fireworks show, rather than trying to sell individual copies. But I think a levy on blank digital media is misguided, because it has so many other uses. You may as well tax sandwiches.
I'd prefer to pay out of general revenue, the same way we fund the Canada Council. (Not that the Council is a model I like either. Grant applications, ugh. There's a lot of work to be done to make a system like this feasible.)
posted by Yogurt at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2002

$0.60 on a CD-R that currently costs $0.60 seems like a disproportionately large levy, too.

Agreed: just realized that, too. It makes a $50 spindle of 50 discs cost $70 (assuming the current levy baked into price at present).

One problem here is that the levy on blank audio cassettes has been long-established, so the principle is going to be hard to fight. But wait, they're doubling the levy on tapes, too, which makes no sense if the threat they're yammering about is digital media.

Note that the best option for most of us is the letter of comment rather than the formal objection (see the pdf file). Then the boilerplate and duties are moot.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:10 AM on March 11, 2002

Oops. Good eyes, McWetboy. I wonder if they'll hunt me down and demand that I do more to object, or if they'll accept what I've writ and leave me alone... 'cause quite honesty, I don't understand my duties as an objector. :-\
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 AM on March 11, 2002

Slashdot won't run this story. Bastards. My story submission keeps getting rejected.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:47 AM on March 11, 2002

Many people don't realize that the U.S. already does this by charging manufacturers a royalty on sales of a "digital audio recording device" and a "digital audio recording medium." At least for the media, it has to be "primarily marketed or most commonly used by consumers for the purpose of making digital audio copied recordings by use of a digital audio recording device," (17 U.S.C. Sec. 1001(4)). The royalty is set at 2% of the "transfer price" of the device, with a floor of $1 and a ceiling of $8-12. See Section 1004. In the U.S., you are already paying this, but luckily it's not quite as high as the Canuk's are proposing. In fact, most of Europe does this already too. The big issue is not whether the royalty will be charged, but how and how much.

And at least in the U.S., it probably has not filtered down to compact flashcards yet since they are still primarily used for photos....
posted by IPLawyer at 11:11 AM on March 11, 2002

This is great news! $100 for a 5 gig iPod is less than an order of magnitude away from a reasonable fee ($25?) to be completely free from copyright issues forever. What is there to be upset about? It's too bad the US is brain-years away from such a smart take on the issue.
posted by sudama at 9:21 PM on March 11, 2002

Oh Shut Up. At least Canadians have Coffee Crisp and Aero Bars! And Kick-Ass Ice Cream!
posted by punkrockrat at 9:38 PM on March 11, 2002

Canada sent us Pamela Anderson, and they get this. Seee?
posted by owillis at 9:52 PM on March 11, 2002

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