levy

New Blank Audio Media Tariffs Proposed

The blank audio media tariffs proposed for 2014 were published in today’s Canada Gazette and are as follows :

  • 29 cents per recordable compact disc (CD-R, CD-RW, CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio)
  • 50 cents per microSD memory card with 1 gigabyte of memory or less
  • 1 dollar per microSD memory card with more that 1 gigabyte of memory but less than 8 gigabyte of memory
  • 3 dollars per microSD memory card with more than 8 gigabytes of memory

Of course the question remains on whether microSD memory cards are “ordinarily used by individual consumers” as an “audio recording medium“, as defined by Part VIII, Section 79 of our Copyright Act.

Personally I have yet to use these cards or any other non-embedded memory card for anything but photography and video. And I also know several individuals who use these cards in their netbooks as a storage medium for their documents. So I have serious doubts in regards to the claim that these memory cards qualify as “blank audio recording media“, especially those of a higher class.

I use class 10 SDHC memory cards for my high definition photography and videos, which are considerably more expensive than class 2 SD memory cards. And the latter is quite adequate for the recording and playback of 254 kbps music files.

According to the SD Association, MicroSD memory cards were manufactured for the mobile phone market. And though most mobile phones now record video in HD, a higher class of memory card is unnecessary for the playback of music on those devices.

Furthermore, mobile phones that include these memory cards at the time of purchase may contain ring tones, software and/or other data, which disqualify these cards as “blank“.

I suspect many memory card manufacturers and retailers will file their objections to these proposed tariffs, as they did in the past. But I also believe Canadian consumers who use these memory cards for photography, video and data storage should also voice their opinions on the matter.

Written objections to these proposed tariffs will of course be accepted by the Copyright Board until April 11th, 2012 at the following address :

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

Objections will be a matter of public record, so please be polite.

Thank you.

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.

Copyright Reform In New Session

It appears that Bill C-32 will be re-introduced into Parliament virtually intact, according to Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro.

In a Toronto Sun interview Del Mastro claimed that as a member of the special legislative committee on Bill C-32 he had not heard “a lot that was overly critical of the bill” from the many witnesses that testified for this committee.

Del Mastro believes that minor changes will be made to the legislation prior to its introduction by the newly appointed Minister of Industry, Christian Paradis. But the opposition, the NDP, state they will introduce amendments and negotiate with the government “Clause by Clause“.

The New Democrat Party have stated they support the extention of the blank audio media levy to mp3 players including iPods but oppose the digital lock provisions found in Bill C-32.

NDP MP Charlie Angus had introduced Private Members Bill C-499 last March, which would have enacted a levy on mp3 players.

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.

Songwriters Propose Another Flat Rate

The Songwriters Association Of Canada have proposed a flat monthly fee of $10 in response to music piracy on the internet.

This fee, which would be charged to consumers via their internet providers, would enable Canadians to download an unlimited amount of music downloads and would compensate Canadian songwriters.

This all you can eat buffet may appeal to some peer to peer users. But unfortunately this fee would likely result in additional fees, as it does not compensate copyright holders. And at the moment there are music services that offer unlimited streaming for $5 that pay royalties that are forwarded to songwriters and copyright holders via the appropriate rights agencies.

I believe that a royalty scheme for peer to peer services is preferable, as it would enable the current rights agencies to collect funds from the peer to peer services and distribute these funds to songwriters and copyright holders.

Peer to peer services could obtain funds from advertisements and premium subscription sales, as well as affiliations, to pay these royalties.

As a consumer I would prefer a choice in regards to what services I subscribe to and pay for. And at the moment I purchase music via the legal services listed on this site. I also use free, advertiser funded services.

My current internet provider also throttles peer to peer services so I see no point in paying upwards from $10 to compensate songwriters and copyright holders for transfers I am unable to perform.

Yes, I am aware that some of these measures can be bypassed. But I am simply not interested in downloading music via the peer to peer services. And the majority of peer to peer users download porn and films according to an Envisional Study published in January of this year.

I suspect the internet providers will resist this fee, in respect to a 2004 Supreme Court rulling that found they were not legally responsible for the file transfers on their networks. The internet providers would likely oppose having to pay to administer the collection of the fee, or subsequent levies or fees.

ACTRA Wants Hard Drives/Mp3 Players Levied

The Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists has asked the government to not only extend the private copying levy to Mp3 players but want hard drives levied and the fair dealing exemptions for educational institutions provisions dropped.

In a press release issued on November 16th, the organization claims that Bill C-32 “rips millions of dollars from creators’ pockets”. And in a November 5th press release they also state “Institutions pay the full cost of desks, computers and teacher salaries, why would they not pay for the content deemed valuable enough to use in their classrooms?

Well, according to the Private Copying amendments the items currently being levied are primarily used as recording media. Mp3 players failed to be levied because they were not technically recording media and hard drives and flash drives failed to be levied because they were not primarily used to copy audio recordings.

Has the situation changed since the last rulings ? No.

ACTRA may claim that Bill C-32 “isn’t good for consumers” but if the Copyright Act were altered to enable the levying of devices like Mp3 players and hard drives, the consumer would be paying significantly more via the manufacturers and importers of these devices.

One only has to review the exorbitant rates the Canadian Private Copying Collective had applied for on the levied media in the past to know that the Canadian consumer is secondary.

Does $21 per gig on mp3 players sound consumer friendly ? How about $2.27 per recordable/rewritable DVD ? Those were the requested rates for 2003/2004, as published in the March 9th, 2002 Supplement of the Canada Gazette (Supplement, Vol. 136, No. 10).

These proposed levies are in no way good for the consumer because it opens the door for additional levies on other products.

ACTRA not only represents radio artists but performers in film and television. And their November 16th statement they claim the film, television, video game and book industries would also face losses because of Bill C-32 :

If Canadian cultural industries are to keep producing films, TV programs, video games, music and books, we can’t afford a bill like C-32 that rips millions of dollars from creators’ pockets“.

The devices on which films, TV programs, video games and ebooks are recorded, downloaded and/or displayed are not currently levied and Bill C-32 calls for an ability by Canadian consumers to perform backups of some of this material.

What will be levied next ?