The Copyright Board of Canada recently established the timing for the hearing on extending the private copying levy to electronic memory storage devices such as SD cards. The hearing will not start until October 2012, but the time for the government to act is now. Given its opposition to the “iPod tax”, it is hard to see how it can possibly support extending the levy to SD cards and other storage devices. In fact, last year Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore specifically referenced memory cards in a debate on extending the levy:
It turns out the Canadian Private Copying Collective provided the government with a roadmap for how to stop the memory card tax. As part of its submission to the Bill C-32 committee, the CPCC stated:
No Basis for Fear of a Levy on All Devices with a Hard Drive or on Any Inappropriate Device
The Act also makes provision for the Governor in Council to limit the scope of qualifying â€œdevicesâ€ by regulation. Specifically, the definition of “audio recording medium” at section 79 of the Act permits the Governor in Council to prescribe by regulation that a particular type of “recording medium” is not an “audio recording medium”.
The process set out in the Act is one that would provide advance notice of any medium or device on which the CPCC wished to collect a levy. The CPCC must file a proposed tariff by March 31st of the year prior to the year in which the levy would come into effect. If the CPCC sought a tariff on a device deemed inappropriate, the Governor in Council could issue a regulation that prevented the Copyright Board from considering such a request. There is, therefore, no legitimate basis for fear that a levy would be imposed on all devices with a hard drive or on any device to which a levy should not apply.
Moore is already on record in describing extending the levy to memory cards as a “toxic” and “dumb” idea. The issue is now whether – as the CPCC suggests – the Governor in Council will issue a regulation preventing the Copyright Board from considering the request.