CPCC

CPCC Seeks No Levy for Cloud Services

The Canadian Private Copying Collective will not be seeking levies for cloud services according to a press release issued on July 21st, 2011.

“The CPCC views these services, and specifically the iMatch offering, as a matter of licensing between the right holders and the cloud service providers, not one of private copying”

The current government has yet to introduce their copyright reform bill and Parliament is scheduled to adjurn for summer today, until the fall session begins on September 19th, 2011.

Makes You Think, Doesn’t It ?

Today the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has approved a settlement of $50.2 million dollars in the “Pending List” class action quit against the four major labels in Canada.

Appearently several years back several recording artists, composers and their estates had noticed their recordings had been released by these labels, with no licencing agreement or royalty payment.

From June 2007 to December 31st, 2009 countless compilations were released that included recordings that the major labels assumed were available to them without prior negotiation because they had assigned a royalty rate to these recordings.

Unfortunately the rights agencies that collected royalties on behalf of the artists found it rather difficult to confirm what was on these lists and coult not truly determine how much was owed to specific artists.

This of course eventually resulted in a class action suit in 2008 that alledged the labels had performed hundreds of thousands of copyright violations, that resulted in the unauthorised sale of recordings.

I find it rather interesting that the labels hindered the collection of royalties associated to this scheme whilst opposing private copying on the grounds that it would hurt artists.

Private copying does not enable the consumer to sell copies of the recordings.

Levy On Memory Cards Proposed, Again.

The Canadian Private Copying Collective had applied for a levy on memory cards at the Copyright Board.

On March 31st, the CPCC has asked the Copyright Board to extend the definition of Blank Audio Recording Media to include memory cards so they can obtain up to $3 in levies per card from manufacturers and importers of this media.

Published in the supplement of the Canada Gazette on May 14th, the rates are as follows :

$0.50 on each memory card that is less than 1 GB
$1.00 on each memory card that is above 1GB but under 8GB
$3.00 on each memory card that is 8GB and more

Unfortunately for the CPCC the definition of what can be and cannot be levied is clearly defined in Section 79 of our Copyright Act :

“audio recording medium” means a recording medium, regardless of its material form, onto which a sound recording may be reproduced and that is of a kind ordinarily used by individual consumers for that purpose, excluding any prescribed kind of recording medium

In respect to this definition the Copyright Board had ruled in December 2003 that the evidence presented to them had not clearly demonstrated “that these recording media are ordinarily used by individuals for the purpose of copying music.”

To store and play back music all one requires is a class 2, 2GB per second memory card. A higher class card is not necessary as it does not improve the sound quality of the recording nor the performance of the device in which this memory card is placed.

Class 4, 4GB per second memory cards were introduced to facilitate the storage of photographs whilst Class 6 (6GB/s) and Class 10 (10GB/s) memory cards were created to record and store high definition video.

The only Secure Digital card created explicitly for music is the SD-Audio format, so a blanket levy on all memory cards is inappropriate or justified.

That said, one then has to wonder why the proposed rates are quite low in comparison to their previous request.

In 2002 they had requested $8 per gig on memory cards according to the March 9th, 2002 edition of the Canada Gazette. But the Canadian labels the CPCC represent still claim that more and more people are copying music “illegally” to devices with memory cards.

It appears their proposals are inconsistant and somewhat arbitrary.

Perhaps they’re attempting to make the levy more palatable. But it makes no sense to reduce the levy whilst claiming there is more harm to the copyright holders since 2002, unless the proposed rate in 2002 was exagerated.

I believe in proposing this levy the CPCC are actually attempting to solicit a definition that enables them to levy the memory cards embedded in mp3 players.

After all, the term they used in the proposal was “electronic memory card“, which doesn’t distinguish embedded from non embedded memory cards. And they could attempt to argue that though most memory cards are not ordinarily used for music that memory cards that are embedded inside mp3 players are.

Technically such a levy would not be a mp3 player levy but a levy on the memory card inside the mp3 player, that they could repackage as a “compromise” during the upcoming copyright reform process.

But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. For now we can object to the levying of memory cards that we primarily use for our own photographs and videos.

The Copyright Board will be accepting objections to the “Statement of Proposed Levies to Be Collected by CPCC on the Sale, in Canada, of Blank Audio Recording Media for the Years 2012 and 2013“, as published in the May 14th, 2011 supplement of the Canada Gazette, until July 13th, 2011 at the following address :

GILLES MCDOUGALL
Secretary General
56 Sparks Street, Suite 800
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C9

613-952-8630 (fax)

Please note that these objections may become part of public record so it is preferable to address the issue politely.

CPCC demands levies on MP3 Players

In a press release dated June 2nd, 2010 the Canadian Private Copying Collective criticized the recently proposed amendments to the Copyright Act stipulated in Bill C-32.

They are again proposing a levy on Mp3 players, this time at a rate of up to $25 per unit in response to a survey of 1000 Canadians. And apparently found some support in The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage to extend the levy to digital music recorders.

In response to this issue Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus proposed such a levy on audio recording devices in a private members bill in Parliament, Bill C-499, on March 2010. But it stalled at first reading without the support of the conservatives, who in turn tabled Bill C-32.

The problem here is that the CPCC are trying to implement a scheme that ignores the fact that royalties are already being collected on the sale of online recordings, a medium in which copying is required for use, and that the popularity of these recordings are dependent on the sale of mp3 players.

The CPCC may claim that MP3 players are without value without music in their press release. But online recordings are nothing but a series of ones and zeros without devices to play them. And compact discs are a dying format from which people will make less and less private copies from as time goes by so the CPCC is basically trying to sustain their existence by levying anything that comes along.

One has to wonder what the true value of these rights are now that the CPCC are attempting to propose a significantly reduced rate, from $21 per gig of memory in March 2002 to $25 per unit.

Did the value of these rights drop over these eight years or is the scheme being made more palatable ? And would the later then mean the rights are being subjected to the market and are flexible in value ?

The CPCC do attempt to claim they are looking for fair value on their Save The Levy site. But how fair is it to levy consumers via the mp3 player manufacturers, who would pass on these expenditures to their customers ?

Private copying may result in copying. But this copying is distinguished from commercial distribution because it is for private use by the consumer.

It does not result in the collection of funds by the consumer, from which royalties would have been collected if it were commercial distribution.

Furthermore it is the consumer that distributes music to these devices and not the manufacturer of these mp3 devices, so the manufacturer is not engaged in the commercial distribution of music either.

Like the compact disc player, these are playback devices in which media is introduced by the consumer ; Media whose data is played from the media, stored in memory and converted into music.

Yet CD players are not levied because the distribution medium in question is the compact disc, a format whose sales result in royalties. And in turn it can be argued that online recordings are also formats whose sales result in royalties.

Bill C-32 addresses issues relating to online piracy by establishing penalties for the illegal distribution of music, both offline and online. And this will further promote the collection of royalties from legitimate online distributors and sites from which music can be streamed.

I believe the proposed mp3 player levy is redundant in light of the measures tabled by the Government of Canada and could be counterproductive if it results in significantly higher prices when it comes to audio playback devices.

In conclusion I oppose the proposed levy as a consumer and would remind the government that such a levy would promote the importation of playback devices by individual Canadians, to the detriment of Canadian retailers.

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I would again like to remind you that you may contact your local member of Parliament on this issue using the contact information provided by the Parliament of Canada web site.

You will find this information by entering your postal code in a form on the main page, under the words “Current Parliamentarians“.

Thank you.