Canadian copyright group pushes for levy on memory cards

As even non-Canadians may recall, there was a big issue in the country a few years back over a so-called "iPod tax" (something that cropped up again in the recent election) and, while it still hasn't come to pass, the Canadian Private Copying Collective is now pushing for a music tax of another sort. While there's no iPods in danger of being taxed this time, the CPCC is asking for a new levy to be placed on memory cards (presumably all types, although that hasn't been specified). That levy would vary depending on the capacity of the card, with those less than 1GB facing a $0.50 tax, while cards between 1GB and 8GB would have an additional dollar tacked on, and those over 8GB would cost a full $3 more. Needless to say, that would be a fairly sizable percentage of the price in most cases given the way memory card prices are dropping -- and it would cast a fairly broad brush, as those memory cards obviously aren't just used for music. Of course, it is also still just a proposal but, as the Excess Copyright blog notes, the peculiarities of the Canadian Copyright Board may well give the CPCC a leg up in this case. Head on past the break for its official announcement.

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(Toronto) – The Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) has asked the Copyright Board of Canada to set a levy on electronic memory cards in order to compensate artists and other rights holders for the copies of recorded music that are made for private use onto this type of recording medium.

The Copyright Board has published the proposed Private Copying Tariff for 2012 and 2013 on its website The proposed tariff for 2012-13 would leave the existing levy of 29 cents on CD-Rs unchanged. The levy rates for electronic memory cards would vary depending upon memory card capacity, with proposed rates ranging from 50 cents to $3. The current tariff expires on December 31, 2011.

"A copy is a copy, regardless of whether it was made on a CD-R or a memory card," said Annie Morin, Chair of the CPCC. "That copy has value, and a levy on the blank media used to make it ensures that the artists, songwriters and other rights holders receive the compensation to which they are entitled. It's a matter of fairness."

The CPCC had requested a private copying levy on electronic memory cards in 2003-04. However, the Copyright Board declined to grant a levy, stating that it was not satisfied by the evidence the CPCC was able to present at that time. CPCC Chair Morin said, "The CPCC believes that the evidence now shows that electronic memory cards are ordinarily used by Canadians to copy music. Consequently, the CPCC has requested that a levy be applied to these cards."

No other new levies are being sought under the tariff proposal, although the CPCC continues to advocate that the Copyright Act be amended to include the extension of the private copying levy to MP3 players.

The private copying levy is an important source of revenue for music rights holders. In place since 1999, the private copying levy provides remuneration to songwriters, music publishers, recording artists, musicians, and record companies in recognition of the fact that Canadians copy hundreds of millions of tracks of recorded music for their own private use.

Established in 1999, the CPCC is an umbrella organization whose member collectives represent songwriters, composers, music publishers, recording artists, musicians and record companies. The CPCC is the non-profit organization responsible for collecting and distributing private copying levies.