The Conservatives have launched another campaign over the iPod Tax today complete with website, video and Twitter account. I posted a lengthy account of the claims last December (short version – the Liberals on record now as opposing, the earlier record is open to debate), but the issue keeps returning. Given the attention to the issue, it is worth noting that Bill C-32, the Conservatives own copyright bill, would likely have led to a doubling of the fees that Canadians pay on blank CDs. Alternatively, it would have led to a dramatic reduction in revenues for Canadian artists. The reason stems from the government’s commitment to ratify the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Internet treaties and the legal requirements found in those treaties.
Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore has gone on record confirming that Bill C-32 would allow for ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties, telling the Bill C-32 Legislative Committee that â€œwhat is in this legislation – the ratification of WIPO, the fair-dealing policy, the digital protection measures – is a huge victory for all Canadians.â€
Yet what Moore did not say is that ratification of the WIPO Internet treaties requires Canada to provide “national treatment” to all artists (in other words, treat Canadian and foreign performers equally). Since the current private copying levy system does not provide national treatment, this would likely lead to a substantial increase in payments from Canadian consumers to foreign performers and makers and minimal increase in payments from foreign consumers to Canadian makers and performers.