Canadian Blank CD Levy To Increase By Another 38%

from the you're-a-criminal dept

The Copyright Board of Canada has decided to increase the levy on blank CDs from 21 cents to 29 cents each. The levy is a sort of “you’re a criminal tax” that assumes blank CDs are going to be used for unauthorized copying. Blank CDs in Canada are now often more expensive than blank DVDs (which have no levy and hold more data), and most of that cost goes directly to the record industry. In 2006, about 70% went to the labels, but it seems like even more now, with actual price of CD-Rs dropping. With a 21 cent levy, a pack of 50 CD-Rs sells for about $12 before tax. That’s 24 cents per CD-R — 87.5% of the price goes to the record industry. And that’s before the 8 cent increase.

The board notes that sales of blank CDs are declining, but justifies the increase by arguing that compression allows people to store more songs on a CD. Meanwhile, there’s no levy on digital audio players (the Canadian record industry was worried it would legalize downloading and seemed to prefer to push for tougher copyright legislation instead). What’s going to happen when the Copyright Board realizes that blank CD sales are likely declining, not because everyone is using compression, but because less people are using CDs? This “you’re a criminal tax” has always been a short-term band-aid solution that’s not going to fix the record industry’s problem. Do Canadians really need to pay the record industry $30 million a year for the right to burn a few songs onto a CD every now and then? Luckily, the current government has expressed a desire to cancel the levy, though we’ll have to wait and see if they can follow through.

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Comments on “Canadian Blank CD Levy To Increase By Another 38%”

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Pee'd off Canuck says:

“Luckily, the current government has expressed a desire to cancel the levy, though we’ll have to wait and see if they can follow through.”

Really? Given that they are Conservatives, i.e. right-wing or Republican-lite if you will, I doubt it very much. They’re not about to stop throwing our tax money at corporations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You’re an idiot. If that’s your view, then you know nothing about Conservatives. True Conservatives are AGAINST raising taxes. Liberals are FOR raising taxes.

If they’re gonna cancel the levy, then perhaps you’re right about them being Conservatives, but they’ll have to fight the liberal “tax everything” mentality of any liberal types still in power there.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Given that they are Conservatives, i.e. right-wing or Republican-lite if you will, I doubt it very much. They’re not about to stop throwing our tax money at corporations.

I believe they’d want to cancel it. The Conservatives are much more likely to give money to corporations through tax cuts, not some kind of welfare-ish levy.

I think the real question is whether or not this will be a priority at all, given the economic and political crises they’re facing.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

Re: not only music

Exactly… I haven’t put music on a CD in a LOOOOONG time. In the world of iPods, Zunes, et al, who puts music on CDs anymore? I know that not everyone has digital audio players, but the majority of the proposed “pirates” have mp3 players of some type.

So you’re taxing people and accusing them of being criminals-in-waiting and they AREN’T EVEN THE PEOPLE DOING THE “STEALING”! Your strategy is made of FAIL! When even the RIAA looks at you and chuckles…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: not only music

That’s one of the reasons I always found this kind of thing to be objectionable. There are numerous reasons to use a blank CD that do not involve music in any way (ranging from data backup to burning a Linux ISO to pirated versions of games & movies), so why do the music industry, and only the music industry, get a cut?

Ultimately, all this represents is another questionable and disappearing revenue stream for the music industry that they’re using as a crutch so they don’t have to innovate… and when they are finally forced into action, it will be too late.

ScytheNoire (profile) says:

Stupidity at it's finest

It’s stupid that this even exists. By this logic, guns should have a tax to pay for families who are victims of gun violence. Cars should have a tax to pay for victims of car accidents. Alcohol should have a tax to pay to victims of alcohol-driven violence. Cigarettes should have a tax to pay victims of second-hand smoke. Fast food should have a tax to pay to families of people who have had heart attacks.

I mean, you could go on and on with this type of stuff.

It’s just stupid that because one of the uses of something might possibly be illegal (arguable as making legal backup’s is legal, after all) and used by 0.1% for that purpose, the rest are punished?

Stupidity at it’s finest.

SteveD says:

“…Cars should have a tax to pay for victims of car accidents. Alcohol should have a tax to pay to victims of alcohol-driven violence. Cigarettes should have a tax to pay victims of second-hand smoke…”

These things do have taxes, and people have a legal requirement to take insurance to cover the victims of car accidents (at least in most countries).

Anyway, its a bit pointless. You’ll just kill off the CD faster…DVD-RW’ers have been standard in new computers for a while. FM transmitters for .mp3 players have replaced CDs for everyone I know.

Gracey says:

I guess I am one of the 4 people in the world who use still CDs for music – mainly because I own a lot of purchased music on CD, and my stereo plays CDs. No iPod, nor do I care to have an iPod; no mp3 Player either. Both my home stereo and our car stereo play CDs – an awful lot of people on fixed incomes cannot afford to toss away working equipment just so they can buy the most up-to-date stuff.

I wish some of you would realize there are more important things in the world than having the newest music player…like eating, or paying the heating bills.

Not everyone has money to burn. Thanks but, until my current equipment dies, I’ll still be using and burning cds, tax or no tax.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Really? “Cannot afford to toss away working equipment just so they can buy the most up-to-date stuff”? When you could, oh say, buy this for the price of a spindle of CDs, and reuse it over and over and over? There are tons of cheaper MP3 players out there, some of them that even don’t suck. And if you’re in Canada and paying this tax, the price of the TAX ALONE is almost as much as the player (I don’t know if you are in Canada or not, you didn’t say, just saying “if”).

If you don’t want an MP3 player that’s fine. But to act like some kind of victim, or like you’re better than other people, well… not so cool.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Again, I ask...

You seem to be confused. Let me explain:

1. There’s a lot of people who read this blog who don’t happen to reside in the US (myself included). So, although it’s got a US focus, Techdirt is of international interest and a lot of readers care what happens around the world.

2. What borders? This is the internet.

3. If US-based politicians take the “success” of the Canadian model to mean that a similar model should be pushed through US legislature, surely having an idea of what was bad about the Canadian model would help you fight it?

4. Wilful ignorance is not an asset. Having an idea of what goes on in world around you affects you whether you like it or not, and there’s a big world outside of your blinkered view.

Xiera says:

Re: Again, I ask...

Hey, guess what, you made a conscious decision to read about Canada and/or the UK. No one made you read it and no one gave you the authority to decide what the rest of the internet wants to read.

So why do we care? Read PaulT’s post, point 3. Additionally, the concept of a national economy is secondary to international economy in the modern world. Decisions, whether economic, political, or otherwise, made around the world have the potential to affect everyone.

Twinrova says:

Re: Re: Again, I ask...

“So why do we care? Read PaulT’s post, point 3.”
I seriously doubt this really makes any reader care.

As for PaulT’s #4, I truly agree, but if a tax on CDs is what “world relations” is about, I take pity on the readers who come here to read about world news.

BBC America News. 7pm EST. Every. Single. Night. Better than any damn US news-based station, that’s for sure.

Oh, and thanks to all the replies for being damn literal with the “borders” comment. I’ll be sure to apologize when Canada taxes our CDs.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Again, I ask...

Hmmmm… well you did essentially post a message slamming the author of this blog for looking at issues outside US borders. Yes, everyone should have a wide range of news sources.

As for “world relations”, yes this is a minor thing but it’s important. Any success with these kinds of moves can be used as examples to convince other politicians to pass similar laws. It’s a bad idea, and could be the tip of the iceberg leading to some kind of blanket copyright tax.

It’s especially important at the moment. The US government is showing itself as quite willing to hand over incredible amounts of money to prop up failing and corrupt businesses, often without oversight or guarantees that the failed models will change.

Which other formerly lucrative industry is in danger of failing due to greed, mismanagement and dated business practices, and might need changes in the law to continue? Exactly.

“I’ll be sure to apologize when Canada taxes our CDs.”


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What do you get for the tax?

Actually, you can. I forgot the specifics that my prof mentioned, but for example, you can go to a friend’s house, and you can copy his music CDs for yourself, as long as you’re using his/her computer to do the burning — legally. I forgot what other rights/limitations you get, though.

Blaise Alleyne (profile) says:

Re: What do you get for the tax?

Basically, section 80 tells you want you can copy, whereas sections 81-86 contain the details on the right of remuneration through the levy. I don’t remember the specifics, but yes, does have some really silly implications regarding whether you copy a CD for yourself or copy it for a friend (I guess concerning what makes something “private” or what constitutes “distribution”).

Mike (user link) says:

Blank CD'S

I’m another one of the 4 dinosaurs who still burn music to CD’s. Let me add if I may that the tracks I compile to disc are all legally bought from and/or imported to iTunes, Rhapsody, etc. Our 2003 VW has a Monsoon system that sounds very good but only plays CD’s and radio, so until we upgrade the car we’ll continue to use discs. My cellphone is a Motorokr which contains scores of my favorites and my wife has a Sansa digital music player. My 12 year old granddaughter also makes compilation cd’s on occasion, so the format seems to still have a little life left to me.

SteveD says:

Re: Blank CD'S

It seems like the only thing thats sustaining the CD right now is old car stereos and nostalgia.

But who buys CD players for kids any more? The majority have iPods. A year ago I bought my little sister an FM transmitter to go with her Nano, something she can fit in her pocket rather then the bulging CD holder stuffed into the glove box.

Now she wants an iPod-ready car stereo for Christmas…

I’ve also just moved all my dust-coated CD’s into storage. One proudly displayed on the shelve, now they sit in a cupboard next to a shoebox of floppy disks.

Rubberman says:

No longer copying CD's

Instead of making copies of my CD’s, I am ripping them to MP3’s or similar audio formats and put them on micro-sd cards which I can play in almost any mp3 player, even my car stereo. A 1GB card can store about 10 CD’s worth of music in a minute fraction of the space, and not a whole lot more $$ than 10 recordable CD’s – not to mention that they can be reused as well. Anyway, SD cards are running about $2 (or less) per GB now.

Just to let the labels know, between my wife and myself we have some 2-3000 CD’s in our collection, all purchased (or gifted). That said, we have both stopped purchasing from major labels totally over the past several years and only buy direct from the musicians or small labels on the internet. Screw the RIAA! What a bunch of crooks!

SolitoN says:

Did it occur to anyone that maybe the board knew *exactly* what it was doing when it approved this increase? I’m not defending anyone, but I have a feeling this increase was an empty exercise meant to shut the record industry up for awhile…I mean, who the hell even uses CDs anymore? So the record industry starts bitching, and the board is like “What? You’re being ripped off? Check it out: we’ll increase the levy on CDs for you, and since you don’t care whether you rip of the innocent along with the guilty, you’ll have no trouble collecting that money right? Cool. Now get lost…” Meanwhile, they probably haven’t caught on yet that no one cares about CDs. I just hope that when they realize it and come asking for levies on DVDs and storage media, the board breaks them in half and sends them away empty. Losers.

DHill says:

CDs in storage

That’s where mine are. I ripped them to FLAC and mp3 all last year and they’ve been in storage since.

Why would I bother with CDs when I can store my entire collection in 8GB of mp3 player? As far as I’m concerned, they’re just source material.

On another note, years ago I watched Shiela Copps at a town hall meeting (this was a few years back) and someone brought up the very point about using CDs for data backup or burning Linux distros…. she just didn’t “get it”.

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