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Angus Introducing Private Copying Levy Bill, Flexible Fair Dealing Motion

NDP MP Charlie Angus has shaken up the copyright reform process today with a pair of proposed measures.  The first is a private member's bill that would expand the scope of the private copying levy to include digital audio recorders (DARs) such as iPods.  Bill C-499 comes as a response to earlier court cases that ruled that DARs are beyond the scope of the current law.  The second is a motion (M-506) that calls for support to reform the Copyright Act's fair dealing provision by adding the words "such as" to make the current list of fair dealing categories illustrative rather than exhaustive.  In addition, the motion codifies the six criteria discussed in Canadian caselaw for determining whether a particular use of a work qualifies as fair dealing. 

I'm certainly supportive of Angus' effort to push copyright issues into the spotlight.  I'm particularly supportive of the motion on fair dealing.  The motion states:

Fair Dealing Provisions within the Copyright Act

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should amend section 29 of the Copyright Act in such a way as to expand the Fair Dealing provisions of the act; specifically by deleting section 29. and inserting the words,

29. Fair dealing of a copyrighted work for purposes such as research, private study, criticism, news reporting or review, is not an infringement of copyright.

29.1 In determining whether the dealing made of a work in any particular case is fair dealing, the factors to be considered shall include,

(a) the purpose of the dealing;
(b) the character of the dealing;
(c) the amount of the dealing;
(d) alternatives to the dealing;
(e) the nature of the work; and
(f) the effect of the dealing on the work.

This approach is precisely what thousands of Canadians supported during last summer's copyright consultation.  It strikes the right balance – it's fair dealing, not free dealing – and it is based on current Canadian jurisprudence.  Greater fair dealing flexiblity benefits creators, innovators, educators, and the broader public.  The motion deserves strong support from all parties.
The attempt to expand the private copying levy in Bill C-499 is more problematic. I am not as opposed to private copying as some, but I think expanding the system in this manner raises real concerns.  First, I think we need to work on fixing the system before we work on expanding it.  There are ongoing concerns about distribution of proceeds, copying vs. making available, and overbroad coverage of the levy that should be addressed.

Second, the bill expands the levy to audio recording devices, defined in C-499 as "a device that contains a permanently embedded data storage medium, including solid state or hard disk, designed, manufactured and advertised for the purpose of copying sound recordings, excluding any prescribed kind of recording device."  This covers everything – iPods, iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, iPads, personal computers.  While the CPCC (the private copying collective) may not target all of these devices, there is nothing in the bill that prevents them from doing so.

Third, the bill deals solely with sound recordings, but there have already been calls to extend to video and other forms of content.  Expanding the levy in this manner without addressing those issues leaves open the prospect of an even bigger levy in the future.

Fourth, the competitive concerns associated with levies on devices cannot be ignored.  The last attempt to place a levy on iPods led to charges as high as $75 per device.  That market distortion leads consumers to purchase outside Canada, which means no levy, no sales taxes, and lost retail sales.

Fifth, we need to think about the interaction between private copying and anti-circumvention rules.  The industry is pushing for anti-circumvention rules that would prohibit Canadians from picking the digital lock on copy controls found on CDs.  If Canadians have paid for the right to copy via the levy, surely those rights should not be trumped by the use of DRM.  Yet that is precisely what both Bills C-60 and C-61 proposed.

Sixth, the industry cannot have the levy and continue to claim that Canada is an illegal downloading haven.  Canadians have paid more than $250 million in fees associated with the levy and the Angus bill would ratchet that up dramatically. 

Angus' comments in the House of Commons this morning are posted below:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise today to submit a bill  to update the Canadian copyright Act, which extends the Private Copying Levy to the next generation of devices that consumers are using for copying sound recordings for personal use. 

The private copying levy is a long-standing Canadian solution that has compensated artists for some of the enormous copying that is taking place.
At the same time, updating the levy will provide legal certainty for fans to copy songs onto an i-Pod or MP3 player.

The levy is a compromise that works. In a world of endless downloading and copying, it provides a monetizing stream for the artists who create such phenomenal cultural works.

Mr. Speaker, there are two dead end roads on the copyright debate. The first dead end is the belief that digital locks, predatory lawsuits and zero tolerance on access can push consumers back in time.

The other dead end is the belief that all the great works of film, music and art can be looted at will.

If we are going to move down the right road we must get serious about securing a monetizing stream for creators.

Canada has a chance to strike the right balance:
No. 1: artists have a right to get paid. This is why I am bringing forward the bill on updating copying levy.
No. 2. Consumers, educators and researchers have a right to access those works – which is why I will be tabling a motion on defining fair dealing to protect those rights.

Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party will continue to work to ensure that copyright laws are updated to protect artists while ensuring access to these amazing works.

54 Comments

  1. Remove the levvy from blank CD’s
    If the tax is added to MP3 players, they should take the opportunity to remove it from blank CD’s. The added tax now makes up ~90% of the cost of a blank CD, and of the 100′s of CD’s I’ve used the in past, less than 1% have had any kind of music on them.

  2. Darryl Moore says:

    giveth and taketh away
    Wow, so on the one hand he would finally make the time and format shifting we all do and take for granted legal through expanded fair dealings. (So now we’d all legally be able to use our VCR/DVR and ipod to enjoy our legally purchased good.)

    On the other hand he’d increase the levy on recording media embedded in these devices. But on what possible justification??? If expanded fair dealings gives us the legal right (We’ve always had the moral right!) to engage in time/format shifting, then how does he justify this?

  3. Fair Dealing: Good! Expanding the Levy: Bad!
    We desperately need to have fair dealing solidified in the law, so I applaud this step forward. The “such as” wording is of critical importance, and I’m glad he has treated it as such.

    But, why expand the private copying levy? This is a horrible tax on consumers to prop up the failing business models of the Recorded Music (Movies) Industry. I do not want to be supporting a failing business which has chosen not to adapt to a shifting market.

    Focus on reforming copyright properly (targeting commercial infringement) and let the market decide which media companies deserve to survive.

  4. Ankle Shackles
    Pay for the moral right to use your purchased devices. Pay!

    Meanwhile Revenue Quebec is still touting how using your purchased device is criminal and is sending this message to children in elementary schools…. PAY I SAY. Pay a tax to use your bought device. JObs are lost because you bought that device. Gov Revenue lost because you bought that device.

    Pay or be sued. PAY and be sued. The Ankle shackle of choice is yours. Its coming.

    The coffers of someone/something is smiling ATM.

    hehe my captcha word is kook :p

  5. Having the cake…
    and eating it too. Wasn’t the levy to compensate the artists and publishers for supposed violations of the Canadian copyright laws; in particular personal uses which would, theoretically, be explicitly legal under a fair dealing setup? So, why, in that case, expand the levy?

    However, “29. Fair dealing of a copyrighted work for purposes such as research, private study, criticism, news reporting or review, is not an infringement of copyright.”. No mention of format and time shifting, which is the cornerstone of personal fair use. Instead, fair use appears to be restricted to academia and the media. So, it appears that Charlie wants the consumers to pay more so that academia and the media can have fair use, but the general public can’t. Or am I reading it wrong?

  6. Re: Having the cake
    This change to s. 29 is actually pretty significant. Currently, criticism, review, research, private study, and news reporting are the ONLY fair dealing exceptions available in Canada. Parody, for example, or time shifting are not included in that exhaustive list.

    Amending the act to indicate that fair dealing includes acts FOR PURPOSES SUCH AS the above list means that the list of fair dealing exceptions becomes illustrative rather than exhaustive. The courts would be free to acknowledge other categories of fair use.

  7. I would argue that “private study”
    covers format and time shifting, because in order to privately study my episode of “Dr. Who” that I recorded earlier, I need to format shift it to another device in my house. Same with my DVD that I need to format shift to privately study it on my media player.

    Para 29 covers uses that allow copying. Not the methods. I may need to format shift to do research, study, critique, report, or review. So as long as I’m doing any of those, I would argue that format or time shifting is allowed.

  8. Too bad
    Good for Mr. Angus. I don’t like being the downer here but Mr. Angus’s Bill will never pass. He is currently outside the list of consideration (174) and will not likely have the opportunity to sponsor any piece of legislation during this Parliament. But what this Bill does is attract attention to an issue that he and many other see as important, and gives a position on copyright that can be discussed by reasonable people should they wish to.

  9. I guess mp3 players that use removable storage will become more common if that goes through.

  10. Let Angus know what you think
    Shoot him a nasty-gram about the Levy via angusc@parl.gc.ca as I just did. We beat back a bonehead levy on mp3 players a few years back that would have increased the price of them significantly. Does Angus really want to take the side of the CRIA and the big music publishers in this?

  11. @crade
    Nah, it’ll just be the next target. Get ready to pay the CPCC for your photos stored on a removable xD and SD cards :-)

    @Rob K. Agreed it is a start, but could it really be interpreted to infer that the consumer will get these “rights”? Had at least one consumer activity been listed, then it would be really significant, however since the activities listed are primarily in the realm of academia and the media, I would be surprised if the courts decided the consumer was covered. Jabrwock lists an extreme interpretation that the courts would probably, and in my opinion, rightly so, reject as a defence.

    @Brad: very few private members bills become law, in particular ones that beyond symbolic in nature. The good ones get usurped by the parties.

  12. It’s about the artists not the CIRA
    More often than not people who purchase an MP3 player or iPod are going to put media on it. There are good chances that this media will have been acquired through various means (bittorrent, rip a CD, etc.) and perhaps the artist will not be getting compensated properly.

    Personally I would prefer that a tax like this or a tax on my Internet connection that would help pay for an artists work would be fine.

    Given that by paying this tax would allow me to download whatever content I want without having to worry about being sued or fined for it.

  13. Darryl Moore says:

    @CS
    “There are good chances that this media will have been acquired through various means (bittorrent, rip a CD, etc.) and perhaps the artist will not be getting compensated properly.”

    What exactly would the “proper” compensation be for an artist when I rip MY CD to listen to it on MY iPod?

    As far as I’m concerned he deserves about the same amount as the TV networks get when I record a TV show on my VCR, or authors get when I read my children their bed time stories, or song writers get when I sing my favourite song in the shower. Big goose egg!

  14. strunk&white says:

    the price of reason
    … is, apparently, nasty-grams.

    In recent days I’ve seen commenters here turn against Barack Obama, and now “the voice of the people,” Charlie Angus, gets the same treatment. I guess you’re allowed to be the voice of the people until your voice starts telling the people they will have to pay fairly for intellectual property.

    “The other dead end is the belief that all the great works of film, music and art can be looted at will.” (next time, please also mention literature… just saying)

    “If we are going to move down the right road we must get serious about securing a monetizing stream for creators.”

    It all sounds so familiar — oh, yeah, it’s what independent Canadian creators have been saying for years.

    I also note the use of the verb “to secure.” I guess to secure a monetizing stream, one would need some sort of security device that people would be asked to respect and not break.

    A welcome hint of realism, like the first green shoot of springtime. Now it just needs to grow… to mature.

  15. From Calgary
    I have a serious concern about this issue, if it is not in line with laws in other jurisdictions; If I download an american artist’s material, from something that does not compensate the artist directly (such as iTunes), I am apparently legally allowed to do so, in Canada, because of this levy and fair use clause (interpretations differ). If, however, I travel to the US and US Customs checks my iPod, could I then be charged with copywrite infringement, because the Canadian Levy, nor the Canadian Fair Use Clause, don’t cover the American artist?

  16. Captain Hook says:

    “I also note the use of the verb “to secure.” I guess to secure a monetizing stream, one would need some sort of security device that people would be asked to respect and not break.”

    That is an interesting conclusion to come to whitey. Why would securing a monetizing stream necessitate a ‘device’? Securing your safety on the streets doesn’t generally require a device (such as a hand gun). Securing your retirement generally involves depositing money somewhere, not booby trapping it with some ‘device’. I can be fairly secure in the knowledge that someone is a troll without a device to tell me so. When I make a contract for services with somebody, it is usulally various clauses within the contract that allow me to feel secure that I will get what I pay for. There is no device.

    Yours may be one interpretation of his words, but it is not the only one. You cannot say “one would need some sort of security device”.

  17. strunk&white says:

    I can say whatever I want
    … on the “free” internet, can’t I?

    Would the word “mechanism” make you happier? Would owning a dictionary, and knowing how to use it make you a better arguer?

    Either way, the device and/or mechanism I would choose is the law. It’s my preference that people respect and follow the law. Not sure if I’ve ever made that point on this blog before… yawn.

    I wonder which nefarious group of levy-loving lobbyists finally got into fortress Angus. It had to be lobbyists, right? Or maybe trolls? Is there a difference?

    Sucks to be you, Hook. The world just keeps proving you wrong — you know, when you’re not busy proving yourself wrong. Whatever happened to that decision you made never to respond to my posts again?

  18. @Charlie Angus
    Hey Angus,

    Where’s the call to legalize P2P? If we are going to support this than file sharing needs to be clearly defined as legal. Otherwise this should be included with the price of purchased music, and films not on new mediums!

  19. er um
    @Jason k
    Is file sharing illegal in your country?

    meanwhile..
    http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2010/03/16/13248906-qmi.html

  20. Will this also cover cellphones and hard drives if it does it will piss off a lot of people

  21. George Michaelson says:

    I like living in a culture which is prepared to use taxes to pay for common goods. It works for health, it works, for the arts in general, and I don’t have a problem with a hypothicated tax, raised on purchase, to try and redress some of the problems with open copying (which we all know is taking place).

    Fair use is an important principle. If we can fix minor nits in laws, and expand its use (god forbid this is a hidden attempt to restrict it) and also increase the money going back into the system juuust enough to drive away some of the legal crap, so much the better.

    (btw, I live in Australia. we caved on US IPR laws in a free trade row over access to US markets for our raw materials, and I think it was a really bad outcome for us in balance of trade terms. I hope Canada can maintain a better stance on these things)

    _G

  22. I live in Hamilton, Ontario. The answer to the levy here, since it seems to only affect CDs, is to buy only DVD blanks. It’s now almost impossible to buy CD blanks here. There are times when that is annoying.

    Also, this wording means that cheap chinese PMPs that have no internal storage but instead take SD cards would be exempt. As would old-style tape and CD walkmans and home stereo devices. Does anyone still make those?

    The levy could have been a decent compromise, but Canada has a strange attitude towards art and media. We value the process more than the end product. Proof: We have film development funds, but no storehouse of the output.

  23. How is double dipping fair compensation?
    Wasn’t the artist fairly compensated when I originally purchased my CD or when I purchased my music at an online retailer? So how exactly are they losing money when I format shift?

    And then they are compensated *again* when I purchase my iPod? (or even hard drives and DVDs which are 99% of the time are not for music/movies) This actually makes me resentful of purchasing more music, to know that I’m paying twice (or three times, as I have my computer, music player, and backup medium). (I can only see another levy as increasing entitlement, to freely download and swap music, which is pretty sad)

  24. Glen Thorsteinson says:

    Perceptions make a difference
    It is my perception that if I buy a music CD and copy that to my personal media player (pmp) or computer that I have done nothing illegal nor immoral. I have compensated the music producer and the musician(s) for the work at a price that they have chosen. It doesn’t seem any different, morally, than taking it from the CD player in my living room and playing it in the CD player in the bedroom, or going to a friends house and playing it on his CD player (although I am sure the industry would like to stop that, or raise some kind of levy on it). I do not make these files available for download to others – I and my family enjoy the music, which is actually what I thought I was purchasing – the right to listen to the music when and where I want to. Otherwise I would listen to the radio in hopes that the songs I want to hear come on.

    Extend that to movies and I feel I should be able to move a copy of the movie over to my home theatre PC for personal use. It’s simply for my convenience, so I don’t have to shuffle through my DVD collection if I want to watch a given movie, but the industry loses nothing by that. (Of course the entertainment industry would prefer that I have to pay them every time I watch a movie, but they gave up that right when they started selling video tapes.)

    I don’t think I am entitled to “free” copies of someone’s work. If I like it, I want to compensate them for it. If I don’t like the work I won’t buy it or download it. But I don’t think I should have to compensate them each time I watch what they sold me at a price they chose. They don’t have the right to tell me when I can watch or listen. Why do they think they should have the right to tell me how I should watch/listen? If they have been given the compensation they asked for, they should be happy.

    I do understand that some (small) segments of our society have the mentality of entitlement – that they have a right to take anything they want and not support it in any meaningful way. The justification I’ve heard used is that the companies make way too much money. These same people wouldn’t pay for works at any price. They think intellectual property should be free (do they feel the same way about books? Maybe they don’t read books.). They have a different moral perception than I do on what constitutes theft. However, I believe the majority of Canadians do feel that taking music/movies without compensation is theft and is morally offensive.

    Sadly, the ongoing theft (downloading without compensating the artist/producers) has put the production companies on the offensive, where it’s them against a nebulous us – all consumers are thieves. I do hope some big company stops fighting with consumers, realizes and admits that they can’t stop the thieves, even if they sold CDs or DVDs for $1.00 each, and tells the honest customer, “You can put it on your computer, your PMP, whatever. We just ask that you don’t give it away – use it for you and your family.”

    I know – I’m an optimist.

  25. strunk&white says:

    craig,

    I hear your frustration, but I think your response to the levy is based in a misunderstanding of how music (and most cultural expression) has been traditionally purchased. In the modern era of recorded music as an industry, individual purchase of music has always been a the acquisition of specific media with a package of usage rights attached to that specific media. You need only look at the copyright warning on a DVD movie to see the attached rights and restrictions on that specific media purchase.

    Large-scale transfer of the usage to other media or large-scale distribution of the intellectual property on the media to a wide audience has always been specifically restricted by copyright. Licensing for broadcast, re-recording rights, etc.

    The original levy was an attempt to recognize that these large-scale add-ons to individual purchase had become much easier to do than before. With iPods, filesharing and such, extra uses are now even easier. In effect, the levy is not asking you to pay twice or three times for the same thing (the specific media with specific rights), it is asking you to pay a bit more for more rights not attached to the original purchase. A reasonable request under the law and by established social practice. Without the levy (or some other form of extra-rights compensation), YOU would be double- or even triple-dipping in the rights pool. Not fair.

    Free culture is not free. Of course, what in society is free really?

  26. We shouldn’t have to pay a levy to protect our personal rights, but it would be well worth paying if it actually did that. It doesn’t. There is no protection of our rights included, it is to compensate for something everyone knows we should not even have to pay for, and we still don’t get. The simple right to use the things we have purchased for our own private use. Anyone who tells you they really think one person should have to pay again for the same peice of music they already bought is lying to you.

    Now it is easier to listen to your record collection in the car, or even on the bus, so you should have to buy them all over again. No one honestly believes that tripe.

  27. David Basskin says:

    Director, CPCC Board of Directors
    I have a few corrections and clarifications regarding your recent posting on Charlie Angus’ Private Member’s Bill. Let’s remember that there actually was a levy on digital audio recorders approved by the Copyright Board in 2004 – the levy ranged from $2 to $25 depending on the size of the recorder. A maximum of $25 for unlimited copying of music is eminently fair for both consumers and rights holders.

    The primary purpose of a digital audio recorder is to copy music. The existing Copyright Act enshrined in law in 1997 the concept that private copies of music have value – just as the original recordings do – and that when copies are made, the artists should be compensated. Canadians strongly agree with this principle – a recent public opinion poll found that two-thirds of Canadians believe that artists should be compensated when copies are made of their music.

    The goal of Charlie Angus’ private member’s bill is simply to ensure that the law keeps pace with technological change – digital audio recorders, to a large extent, have replaced cassettes and CD-Rs as the copying medium.

    The notion that the CPCC would seek to extend the levy to every medium or device that could possibly make a private copy is not logical and is even ludicrous. The Copyright Act requires rights holders seeking to extend the levy to prove that each medium or device is ordinarily used for private copying. This is argued in front of a tribunal, where all stakeholders have the opportunity to present their arguments.

    Our objective is to ensure that the artists, songwriters and other rights holders who make their living from their music receive the compensation that the law already says they are due, when private copies are made of their music. Times have changed, and technology has moved forward – we need our copyright law to do the same.

    And to respond to a couple of posted comments: The money goes to artists and other rights holders, NOT to government. The private copying levy is NOT a tax. And further, the levy does not make it okay to illegally file-share music – that is a completely separate issue.

  28. “Canadians strongly agree with this principle – a recent public opinion poll found that two-thirds of Canadians believe that artists should be compensated when copies are made of their music. ”
    Well, I also agree with this. So what, it is just a misleading question. I still can’t find a single person who thinks artists should be paid multiple times for one person’s private copies of something they already paid for.

  29. David Basskin said:
    “Canadians strongly agree with this principle – a recent public opinion poll found that two-thirds of Canadians believe that artists should be compensated when copies are made of their music.”

    I would very much like to see the wording a methodology of that pole. Please post a link. “Should you be able to copy music you have already paid for, for your own personal use?” Would get a very different answer from “Should you be able to get free unlimited music off the internet that you never paid for?”

    David Basskin said:
    “Our objective is to ensure that the artists, songwriters and other rights holders who make their living from their music receive the compensation that the law already says they are due, when private copies are made of their music. Times have changed, and technology has moved forward – we need our copyright law to do the same.”

    Has any artist, song writer or any one OTHER than one of the studios ever received so much as a single penny from these levies? Last time I looked the only people who ever got any money was the government and the studios. You know the same studios who are being sued in court for a helacious sum of money for ripping of the artists. You know the same artists they trot out to use as those being crushed by new technology.

    If you ever read a recording contract it will make your jaw drop from how increadably one sided it is and how bad the artists get ripped off.

    The last time I checked the copyright was on the performance or the written song not the solid media. If I move the song from the CD to an MP3 player there isn’t a new performance. If bandX does a live and a studio recording of the same song then I would have to pay for both if I wanted to play both. Just because one of the biggest lobbying machines the world has ever know can baffle gab some clueless politician doesn’t make it right. Laws that the people don’t think are fair or right have a funny way of being ignored and diminishing respect for all laws.

  30. @David Basskin
    “The goal of Charlie Angus’ private member’s bill is simply to ensure that the law keeps pace with technological change – digital audio recorders, to a large extent, have replaced cassettes and CD-Rs as the copying medium.”

    About a year ago I got in touch with one of the research arms (or think tank) of the Ontario government that released a report with respect to Provincial IP reform. One of the most detested parts of the last copyright bill not only from users, but industry as well was this levy on Media from what I’ve been told by one of their main researchers.

    I’ve also personally conducted interviews with a few friends of mine in the music business. Some of which are Juno award winners. When asked about how much money they receive personally from the current levy, the answer 100% of the time was “pennies per year”.

    Mr. Angus as a musician should be full and up to speed on the issues at present. I don’t see how any creator would benefit from expanding the current levy. If he wants to make a difference on this issue, either call for the scrapping of this levy which many Canadians and his own creative peers are for, or dive into the contract law, and make sure that funds allocated to this project reach the hands of creators.

    If creators and industry would start to develop business models on the notion that their works will be shared (ie price increases at the till), and stop asking Government to interfere, the world would be better off, so would the entertainment industries. I rarely agree with Clement or the conservatives on anything, this issue would be the first I’d say that I agree with them on. This shows a complete mis-understanding of the issues at play by the NDP, Liberals, and Bloc and a disappointment for me to think we had someone in Parliament that actually understood the issues.

  31. Jean-Francois Mezei says:

    Why I buy music from the Itunes store, it goes to my Mac’s hard drive. Then, I have the option of copying it to my Ipod, mobile handset, Apple TV etc. This is all approved by Apple and the MAFIAA.

    If I buy music on a CD, why should my options to copy to some ipod or other device be any different ? Would copying a CD over to Itunes on the Mac be considered illegal and requiring that downloading the itunes software cost me $75 ?

    Perhaps if they make us pay that $75, there should be some federal programme that refunds us that $75 little by little with every legitimate purchase of itunes songs or CDs. In other words, those who buy music legitimately get their $75 back, those who download illegally don’t.

    Of course, such a scheme can’t realistically be implemented.

  32. Jean-Francois Mezei says:

    But perhaps a scheme such as used to fund the BBC might be workable.

    Every taxpayer would pay a yearly levy for Canadian art/artists. This would be indepenednt of technology, CD,s MP3s etc. Just pay it in the income tax. And those funds would then be independant of political agendas (as are the BBC funds), so a government would no longer have the ability to shut down artists who speak out against the government (as has happened with the current government).

  33. strunk&white says:

    JK,

    Seriously, as someone who uses the catch-all “independent research,” to make his points again and again, you’ll have to do better than hearsay testimony from unnamed sources. This is what makes these arguments so futile in the end — the people actually in the middle of all this, with the most to lose are constantly challenged to argue against hearsay and empty theorizing. “You should just radically change everything you know about the business you’re in — go ahead, trust me, I’ve talked to some people on the phone, some of whom are Juno winners.”

    It’s time, absolutely time, to demand maturity from these arguments. Look at the CPCC website. This is a highly scrutinized and regulated not-for-profit doing good work for Canada’s creators. By 2007, they had distributed over $100 million to rightsholders. Argue that original creators are too often not the final rightsholders and you won’t get too much heat from the creator sector, but those are contract issues in an ongoing negotiation.

    I counter your unnamed Juno winners with attributed quotes from one of CPCC’s press releases:

    Molly Johnson, recording artist:
    “The royalties I receive from the private copying levy help me to continue to create music. The income generated from this and other royalties support me so that I can focus on the music I want to create.”

    Karen Ennis, recording artist, of the Juno award winning musical group Ennis Sisters:
    “I feel honoured to be a member of the group Ennis Sisters. I know I speak for my sisters, Maureen and Teresa, when I say that we feel very fortunate to be able to pursue a career in the music industry. While we have had great years, we have also experienced periods when our income has been diminished considerably. Last year, for example, we found ourselves in a long stretch between recording projects when we had little work but still had lots of ongoing expenses. It was such a relief to us to be the recipients of CPCC royalties at that time…”

  34. james in toronto says:

    What a wonderful idea. So instead of putting the burden on those who are actual responsible, we will force every law abiding consumer to pay trough the nose. Is Charlie Angus a New Democrat? I expect this kind of thing for the far right, not the left.

  35. @strunk&white
    It’s one thing to pull comments off of the CPCC’s website who are fighting in support of the levy, it’s quite another to walk around a music conference and actually ask the musicians themselves. The labels are pocketing almost all of this money. Very little is trickling down to help creators create. Personally I think that any corporation that receives money out of this pot, should be subjected to a public audit.

    Why isn’t industry throwing up an extra 9 cents on music and media purchases to cover this? Shouldn’t the price of products be set by the marketplace, or by government? Which would you chose? I’m paying close to $6 per song already. And the music I purchase gives me the legal right to mash up, remix, and share online. Why are we not seeing this industry wide?

  36. Billy Barnes says:

    I can almost (almost) understand this with respect to files ripped from CDs, but what about downloads from iTunes or Amazon or some other media store? In those cases, transfer to a portable device is anticipated and often specifically allowed in the license agreement. The growing number of people (legally) downloading MP3s will be paying for rights that they already have. For example, the iTunes Store terms of service say (and I quote) “You shall be entitled to export, burn (if applicable) or copy Products solely for personal, noncommercial use.”

    Perhaps we should add a levy to store-bought CDs to allow you to copy *from* them rather than a levy on hard drives to copy *to* them.

  37. @Billy
    “I can almost (almost) understand this with respect to files ripped from CDs”
    I don’t believe you.

    “Perhaps we should add a levy to store-bought CDs to allow you to copy *from*”
    Wouldn’t it be a little useless to add a levy to cd’s to pay the cd makers.. They can just raise the price :)

  38. @Billy Barnes
    “I can almost (almost) understand this with respect to files ripped from CDs”.

    When we pay for media, we should be able to integrate it into different formats. This is one area where the media industry has yet to evolve. Like I said in an earlier comment above, we need to start adapting business models on the notion that media will be shared, there’s no choice. Anything in law that presents a choice with respect to inhibiting the sharing of media, or transferring on to different devices will not succeed. If creators want to get paid for this, then the price of media should include these levies, not on the actual medium used to listen or enjoy it on.

    Governments should not be interfering in the market like this, it’s causing a lot of problems with innovation, and inhibiting new business models from emerging.

  39. Wow you people are far more civilized about this flagrantly criminal ‘bill’ then I am. It’s outright corporate-sponsored theft of our hard-earned money, simple as that. That a left-wing NDP’er is sponsoring this farce is the height of comedy in my opinion.

    Is it any different then a special ‘levy’ being added to Black & Deck nail drivers to help prop up the MasterCraft hammer division? You simply cannot ask people to PAY for a product they do not, or will not, ever consume. That’s bad economics, ethics, social justice, you name it.

    Format shifting is intrinsic in how we communicate and consume our culture’s products. It’s progress, not theft, to be able to appreciate an artists work in a more convenient, accessible fashion.

    If your business model suffers because you can’t force people to pay for the SAME product 6 different times, the traditional, sane solution is to change your business model or find something better to do. Increase the retail cost of your items if the reality of modern technology is killing you. You certainly DON’T EVER go to government asking for handouts to help keep you solvent. We the people run the government (or so we thought), and we the people simply don’t need you that badly.

    As mentioned, it’s little different then applying a fee to every automobile to keep the horse & carriage industry afloat because technology did harm to their ability to move people from point A to point B. Technology allows us to consume legally purchased retail items and use it in efficient, practical means. Progress, not theft. The Horse & Carriage industry had to adapt or fade away. The music industry must do the same, without artificial, monolithic subsidies to keep their carcass afloat.

  40. strunk&white says:

    there’s a nice catch 22
    musicians are expected to sell their songs for 99 cents or less, and most free net theorists agree that the cost of content is approaching zero through market demand, so the solution you offer is for them to raise their price.

    A levy idea IS a busines model adaptation. The problem here is that any business model adaptation that has you paying more for culture is bad in your opinion. That’s some impressive flexibility you offer to the culture. Thanks.

    Jason — do you know who Molly Johnson is? You are not the only one in this argument who “knows a few musicians.” If that’s how we’re going to play it let me say that I guarantee to you right now I know and have talked to many, many more professional musicians than you could ever hope to. Add to that professional writers, dancers, filmmakers, photographers, painters, installation artists, sculptresses, etc. You name them, I know them, talk with them about copyright, and work with them regularly. I can say with the absolute authority of that experience that you are talking out of your butt when it comes to what professional artists think about copyright. You haven’t got a clue.

    But really, the only proof you should need is that Angus’ bill came out of left field for you, whereas any actual independent professional artist could have told you it was bound to hit the table.

  41. Captain Hook says:

    @strunk&white
    “If that’s how we’re going to play it let me say that I guarantee to you right now I know and have talked to many, many more professional musicians than you could ever hope to.”

    Oh yeah, well my dad can beat up your dad, so there!

    Unfortunately whitey, unless you are at least as willing to put you name to your words, you will still be an even lesser troll than both Gannon and Sookman. Unless you are willing to put your name to your words you cannot speak with both authority and credibility.

  42. strunk&white says:

    oh, hook
    Read back a bit. Keep reading. A bit more.

    See the bit where I talk about attributed quotes and unnamed sources. Yeah… you’re making my point for me.

    Thanks pseudonymous pirate!

    Do you ever get tired of being so completely wrong?

    I choose to keep a pseudonym for my own reasons, and I refuse to apologize for it. You don’t think my arguments are valid, ignore them.

    Please. Ignore them.

  43. Anonymous Coward says:

    Our shared culture is free to share. Just as cultural creators are free to try and earn money from the selling of that culture, which has never been made in a vacuum.

    Where are the taxes for the movie industry? The video game industry? The book publishing industry?

  44. strunk&white says:

    AC
    Seriously, I hate to be just plain old contrary, but you’re just wrong about all that. Our shared culture is not free in any way. It costs a great deal to create, and costs relatively little to enjoy. I’m not sure about making it in a vacccuum. I suppose some experimentalists have tried, but I’m not sure I see your point on this.

    I can’t believe you’re hearing this for the first time, but plenty of Canadian tax money goes to all the industries you mention (actually, someone slightly geekier than me should comment on video games, since I don’t partake or make), and if you listen to Geist’s debate on CBC radio about Amazon you will hear him agree that these support mechanisms are a good thing.

  45. Anonymous Coward says:

    The public domain is the rule and copyright is the exception. There exists more of our shared culture in the public domain than there is covered by copyright.

    The public domain is free to use.

    I create culture as an artist and it doesn’t cost me anything to make.

  46. Right on, Charlie!
    Further legitimatizing already-legal P2P. I love it. :-)

  47. Downloading music (i.e. creating a digital copy) without paying for it is NOT illegal in Canada. It is not theft. It is exercising a right (which we currently pay for through a levy on blank storage devices). The only people who want to make it illegal are the music industry corporations and the corporate lapdog conservative party.

    Musicians can make money through performances, teaching and sponsorship. They should be grateful if people want to share their music with others. Music is not a corporate product. If the music industry goes bankrupt, so much the better! Don’t worry about it. We will still have lots of music to enjoy.

  48. Richard M Stallman says:

    When considering schemes to support the arts by taxing digital
    activities, the most important points are (1) distributing the money
    effectively, to artists not publishers, with a preference towards
    non-stars, and (2) legalizing sharing. See my 1992 proposal in
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/dat.html.

    If some pay to support musicians when copying something other than
    music, it’s not important. Others may pay to support the fire
    department and have no fire, or to support health care but not get
    sick, and that’s not important either.

  49. They really need to be honest about this levy. If you intentionally trick people into accepting the levy by making them think it is to help cover the money artists are [debatably] losing due to file sharing (this is afterall what everyone says is the problem, no one ever makes claims anyone is in trouble because of private format shifting or time shifting), you just end up with a bunch of people who you have tricked into thinking they are justified to share files as much as they want. If you then try to tell them: “No, that was only for your private use of media you already have paid for” they will look at you with blank stares and say “what the hell are you talking about, that makes no sense.”. At least this is the reaction I always get when I try to explain to people that the levy doesn’t cover file sharing.

  50. Citizen
    I don’t really understand why you would apply this levy to devices. I already paid for the right to take all of my CDs and put them on a device when I bought the CD. If anything, why wouldn’t you have the levy apply to the portion of digital bandwidth that is used for torrent traffic. That would provide a basis for the levy that is far more representative of the actual amount of piracy in progress. And it would not have the same irony that comes with suggesting a levy against the very device which has brought some measure of defence against and altnerative to piracy.

  51. Nice Article, Stallman
    I agree with your approach entirely, except that bit about not using strict porporting as a way to give lesser known artists a leg up. While I love CBC Radio3 and other ways that we help up and comers, I think your argument it greatly diminished when you suggest biasing the disbursements against megastars in favour of lesser-knowns. Really? Do we have to get all warm and fuzzy about this? That’s the sort of questionable lefty idealism that makes things like levies hard to sell.

  52. Actually, private copying is not a consumer right, it currently exists only as an exemption to copyright infringement. The levy on blank media was introduced as a means to compensate artists for the exemption. The only realistic alternative to an expanded levy, I fear, is the outlawing of technologies that people might able to use to do things like private copy works for their own use, so that even without explicitly outlawing private copying, they can make it all but impossible for people to actually do. In the end, of course, that won’t actually stop people who are determined enough to break the law, and acquire these technologies via illegal channels, but it sure screws over the honest consumer, which I think is a *FAR* bigger problem than just paying more for stuff.

  53. James Plotkin says:

    Maybe there’s a better way…
    I doubt I’m the originator of this idea but rather than adding cost to the devices add it to the broadband fee’s we all pay. The first reason is because in the end it would most likely produce more continuous revenue for the artists who do, by the way, so greatly deserve it. an additional two or three dollars on your internet bill is barely visible.

    Secondly, What makes P2P so attractive? The price…FREE. A couple dollars a month giving you the legal right to download to your hearts content “feels” enough like free because the monthly hit s so small and no one is asking you to change your behavior. The obvious hole in the levy on devices is the ease with which we can cross the border to pick one up considerably cheaper.

    If we can make it that easy for people to fulfill their legal obligations then why not do so. The goal of IP legislation is to protect the rights of artists, not to widen the definition of criminal. Some may see this as giving in. I personally believe that acquiescing to the massive social shift we’ve experienced with the advent of the MP3 and P2P is not giving in but good exercise of government.

    …Even a poor law student like myself can afford an extra couple bucks a month…

    The Government should ask themselves if they would rather be Happy or Right. Happy is usually better.

  54. Mendel Potok says:

    A Fools Errand
    This is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. They know they can’t curtail recording video and music, so they want to get some cash out of people breaking the law. This is just shady on the government’s part.

    http://www.loveshoponline.ca