The Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), a music industry umbrella organization that collects a Private Copying Tariff on every blank CD sold in Canada, wants to expand the definition of blank recording media beyond cassettes and CDs to include all technologies capable of storing digital audio. This would not only impose the recording industry’s music tax on memory cards used in digital cameras; but establish an even more dangerous precedent that would make virtually all storage media future targets for CPCC and their tax.
On January 31, 2007, the CPCC filed a statement with the Copyright Board of the levies it proposes to collect in 2008 and 2009. The Canadian Storage Media Alliance (CSMA) and the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), among others, filed objections to the proposed tariff. On July 19, 2007 the Copyright Board rejected all objections raised by the CSMA and RCC, paving the way for expansion of the CPCC’s music tax. This action will, among other measures, impose a Private Copying Tariff of $10.00 on all SD cards with a capacity greater than 4GB. More alarming than the tax itself is the logic used to support it and the certainty of the music industry’s hand reaching ever deeper into the consumer’s pocket. The tax on CD-R and CD-RW media has increased from $05.2 per disk in 1999-2000 to the current rate of $0.21 per disk, which represents not only a 400% increase, but as much as 60% of the cost of the media at retail. With capacities expanding and prices declining, how long will it be before 60% of the price of the memory card in your camera goes to subsidize Britney Spears legal bills, or inept record executives married to stone age business models? How long will it be before the hard disk in your PC is taxed because of its role as co-conspirator with the iPod?
If you live in Canada and wish to register your opposition to this insidious tax, you have until April 2008 to remind the current Conservative government that their 2005 Policy Declaration included a commitment to eliminate the existing levy on blank recording materials. It might also be a good idea to shop the Boxing Day sales for an iPod or two, before the $75.00 tax goes into effect.