Canadian MP: Tax media devices to pay for copyright infringement

Canadian MP: Tax media devices to pay for copyright infringement

Summary: New Democrat Party MP Charlie Angus thinks the Copyright Act isn't working and does not want to wait for federal government solutions or international agreements to be signed.


New Democrat Party (NDP) MP Charlie Angus has tabled new legislation adding taxes to any device that can record digital media. On his website Angus states that the Copyright Act isn't working. Angus does not want to wait for federal government solutions or international agreements to be signed. Existing copyright levies are collected by the CPCC - Canadian Private Copying Collective.

It is estimated that between 1997 (the inception of the levy) to 2008, they the CPCC collected $261 million and have distributed $180 million of that to rights holders. The figures have not been confirmed with CPCC.

Updated: The Canadian Private Copying Collective is the non-profit agency charged with collecting and distributing private copying royalties. Established in 1999, CPCC is an umbrella organization that represents songwriters, recording artists, music publishers and record companies. These are the groups on whose behalf the royalties are collected. CPCC is not an arm of government. Enforcement of the private copying tariff and advocacy, including representing copyright holders before the Copyright Board, which decides the tariff, are other important functions of CPCC. This site provides in-depth background on each of CPCC's key functions.

The Copyright Board of Canada manages the tariff schedules and Act copyright registration.

The ACTA talks have been prone to information leaking out despite agreement to maintain secrecy. In 2008 it became known that an important component of ACTA is enabling copyright and intellectual property right holders to disconnect internet users caught illegally downloading without a warrant. This set off a global uproar and demands for transparency. MP Angus ignores the ACTA negotiations and offers his own solution;

"Artists have a right to get paid and consumers have a right to access works. This is what balanced copyright is all about. The government has declared their intention to update the Copyright Act. If they are serious then we need to update key elements of the act like the copying levy and fair dealing."

The Bill extends the Private Copying Levy, established in 1997, to the next generation of devices that consumers are using for copying sound recordings for personal use.  The levy provides legal certainty for fans to copy songs onto an iPod or MP3 player.

"Digital locks and suing fans are not going to prevent people from copying music from one format to another," he said. "The levy is a solution that works.  By updating it, we will ensure that artists are getting paid for their work, and that consumers aren't criminalized for moving their legally-obtained music from one format to another."

The Canadian government's Intellectual Property Office Industry Canada administers the Copyright Act. CPCC collects existing levies on blank recording media such as cassette tapes and CD/DVD's. Canada is one of the countries participating in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations. The next round of treaty talks take place in New Zealand in April. Update: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Trade (DFAIT) is the lead agency at the ACTA negotiation table.

Several countries now have various pieces of legislation surrounding copyright / intellectual property rights including France, the U.K. and now Canada. The European Parliament has also publicly stated that a three strikes your out (cut off from Internet access) will not be acceptable to EU nations. This conflicts with the Digital Economy Bill measures introduced by Lord Peter Mandelson, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills and Lord President of the Council. As resistance to the secret ACTA negotiations continue to rise, government legislators continue offer their own ideas. The ACTA negotiations are sending mixed signals to several nations because they are not occurring within the World Trade Organization framework.

Additional resources:

Internet history - should it be archived?

European Parliament notice to ACTA negotiators: Open up discussion and be transparent to the public

British Telecom chief: File share users should be fined, not disconnected

British wireless internet users - you're guilty

EPIC urges court to block Google Book deal - breaks user privacy laws

French solution to illegal download and copyright infringement - tax Google and Yahoo

Google loses book copyright case in France

Lobbyist: Canada cans copyright deal in exchange for U.S. dropping Buy America

Wireless users may be shut off if sharing copyrighted files

Copyright associations want enforcement for free

European Parliament to revisit telecom regulations

Topics: Government US, Banking, Browser, Enterprise Software, Government, Legal, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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  • Certainly ONE sensible option.

    If you can monitor what is being downloaded (IP infringement), it seems a rather trivial extension to accumulate the data and distribute the funds collected based on the same download data. We can stop the ridiculous fighting/incriminations and enjoy culture and information while the creators get paid. What is not to like about it?

    It seems so sensible it will probably fail.

    Edit: The content maFIAA will fight it tooth and nail, because their ability to continue to squeeze the consumers will be severely curtailed.
  • Typical

    Tax it. Note how the government wound up pocketing nearly 30%
    for itself.
  • Canadians = Silly subpeoples. Who cares what they do?

    Excepting Alanis Morisette, what IP does Canada produce anyway?
    • Alanis who?

      She is way down on the list. And subpeoples? You don't even rank that high.
    • fucharlie

      who the hell do you think you are talking like that about Canadians?
  • DAT Tax: We did it here

    Back in the days of the DAT (Digital Audio Tape, for those
    keeping score), a tax was levied on every blank tape. Surely
    anyone buying a blank tape would only use it to rip off some
    cheesy pop singer.

    I and a lot of other people were hired to use DAT machines to
    tape concerts of various types. No ripping off--just
    professional recording work. Although DAT is long gone, I
    always resented paying a tax to the record company lawyers
    for completely legal use.

    Yes the Canadian proposal is stupid, but we did it first right
    here in the USA.
    • If you have objections...

      a tad more eloquence and intellect than "stupid" would help your "cause" a lot.
      • Another one of those legal tenets

        It's actually amended right into the constitution
        that if we find something simplistic and foolish,
        we can call it "stupid". I suppose PC nazis like
        yourself would prefer he called Canada's
        legislation "developmentally delayed"?
      • No, stupid is the right term

        Legislation like the DAT tax, as well as that proposed by the Canadian
        MP, are reasonably described by the word 'stupid'. Legislation like this
        assumes, prima facie, that the user is purchasing a product strictly for
        illegal use. If you buy a DAT or an iPod, you are a criminal.

        How is that not stupid?
        • That's what it seems to assume.

          I'd also call it stupid. It solves nothing. How much more would the blank media have to cost to actually discourage copying anything? What if I buy blank media to backup my computers (my own data, nothing stolen, and all proggies are legal)? Why would I have to pay extra for blank media to backup things I have personally created? By definition, I am the rights holder to my stuff (video, photo, art, documentation, etc.) so why would I be expected to pay extra anything to anyone?
          And is it any wonder people don't vote Democrat...
          • Except for one thing @jedikitty

            The DAT tax was passed in 1992, under the first Bush administration.
            Any political party is capable to doing something dumb.
          • Now wait a second...

            Wait a second, jedikitty. Taxation works. Just look at smoking. I mean alcohol. Wait a second, it must work.

            Forget it, how about a War On Copyright Infringement. That will work, like the War On Drugs. Hmm, the War On Poverty. Something must work...
        • If they're not on iTunes, how do you support the artist?

          Arts and "culture" are big money makers, whether it's Celine Dion, Bob and Doug MacKenzie, Rush, Bryan Adams, Dan Akroyd, Mike Myers, Ronnie Hawkins, or even Alanis Morrissette, it's big money. But it's not the big artists who benefit Canada most, but the little artists that never get much beyond the borders. More people flow into bars to watch the small local bands than flock into stadiums to watch the big bands. Small acts are big business. But small acts are the ones most affected by piracy.

          Piracy is an odd thing. According to existing Canadian copyright law, if I copy an album onto an audio cassette (using 1999 terminology here) in order to listen to it on my walkman, that's allowed. But if I then "loan" or "share" that cassette with my sister, that's legally classified as "distribution" and thus a copyright infrigement. And yet, everyone does exactly that. And in the spirit of copyright, it is an infrigement. Under the rules and spirit of copyright, my sister should go out and buy her own copy, and in doing so, support the artists who created the content. But that isn't the way things work. Not in Canada and not in the USA. And that means that the breaking-through artist gets popular and goes broke at the same time. Everyone is listening to pirated copies of their work because the artist doesn't have the means to create and distribute sufficient quantities of the work for all those who want to buy it.

          Spending large amounts of money on police investigations and court costs to chase after teenagers who copy their albums onto a different media and then share with their friends is simply too expensive and it does not help the breaking-through artists who really need the money the most.

          Unlike the USA, Canada is a social democracy (which means that the good of the group takes precidence over the good of the individual). [In contrast, the USA is a libertarian democracy which means that the rights and freedoms of the individual take precedence over the good of the group.]

          The tariff on blank media was therefore put in as a socialized support mechanism, a subsidy if you will, for established but small-time artists and <b>it should be viewed in that manner only</b>. In addition, the tariff is tiny (about $0.07 per blank CD and about $0.10 per blank audio cassette) and hidden (rolled up in the retail price so the consumer doesn't see it). It means a stack of blank CDs costs about $1 more in Canada than in the USA but the benefit to the content creators is immense. And since it is hidden, NO ONE CARES!

          The problem with iPods is that they are legally defined as "devices" and not as "recordable media". Only recordable media is subject to the hidden tariff at this time. But recordable media is on the decline as everything goes digital. This is hurting the cultural industry. Do we tell the artists that, just when they're making it big, they should go broke and/or quit because they're not rich enough? They're not to the point yet where you'll find them in iTunes. But every copy made and distributed without a royalty to them hurts them dearly when they need that money the most.

          And that's really what the the bill in the Canadian parliment is all about. How does a country support its artists.
          • But...

            The artists don't really get much of that money. It goes to the record
            companies. Look, I pay for CDs, then I rip them to iTunes for my own
            use. Some people steal and some people don't. But the problem with
            legislation like that is the people are assumed to be guilty and they have
            no recourse if they're not. With policies like that, further theft is likely to
            be encouraged as much as discouraged.

            On top of all that, if you're going to tax me, give me some choice. I don't
            like a single 'artist' you mentioned. Why should I give them money? Give
            the money to the Montreal Symphony and maybe I could get behind it.
          • Stupid is the right word

            And rambling nonsense. I did not read a single coherent idea in your post.

            If you are going to jump all over something, at least come up with a reasonably well thought out alternative. You have no credibility whatsoever.
          • @economonkey

            "And rambling nonsense. I did not read a single coherent idea in your

            Probably had trouble reading coherent ideas because I used polysyllabic
    • Least of multiple evils

      I used to hate the idea of a blank-media tax, but
      it may be the least of all evils. Some record
      label got smacked down in Canada when they tried
      to sue someone for downloading music, when the
      court told them that they already got their
      payment from the tax, and they weren't entitled to
      anything else. This essentially legalized
      "leeching" in Canada.
  • Copyright Reform Should Start With A Reduction In The Length Of Copyright

    Reduce the duration of copyright to 7 or 14 years and then we can discuss how to "ensure that artists are getting paid for their work". No one should have a monopoly on an idea or an expression of an idea for "life of author plus seventy years". Copyright law is a joke that I have no respect for.
  • Implement incentives to create not means to stagnation and bondage

    Perhaps we call all define our endeavours at work as creative content and therefore subject to royalties from our employer for as long as they use it, or as long they are in business? This would require a change in legislation defining the relationship between an employee employer etc. and necessitate some sort of regulatory mechanism however if certain creative people have this privilege why not there rest of us? Then I believe this issue will no longer fill public discourse.

    If that seems unreasonable then perhaps we can agree that a one time fee is reasonable. After all what incentive is there to create and develop if we can all live off royalties. Thus look at the state of contemporary English music(other language music will follow if similar model is adopted). It is much cheaper to live off the endeavours of past labour then to recreate anew. In the end both the industry suffers due to stagnation and the consumer who only listens to contemporary English pays twice. First a tariff to listen to music he owns and second his marginal utility (ceteris paribus) diminishes every time he listens to the same music over and over again with little else to replenish that satisfaction lost.
  • RE: Canadian MP: Tax media devices to pay for copyright infringement

    I just have one question. If I am paying a tax to pay for copyright infringement, doesn't that give me the right to start copying music? Seriously, if I am paying for it and this money is going to "starving artists," I wouldn't think it's a crime to copy CDs.