Canadian MP: Tax media devices to pay for copyright infringement

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.
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor

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

Editorial standards