The Stupidity Of 'You Must Be A Criminal' Copyright Taxes: The SD Card Edition
from the math-and-moore's-law dept
For years, we’ve discussed the various attempts up in Canada for the CPCC — the Canadian Private Copying Collective — to put its “you must be a criminal” tax on the iPod and on your ISP. Both efforts have failed, and now it appears they’re just trying totally random stuff just for the hell of it. Howard Knopf explains that the CPCC’s latest proposal includes a tax on memory cards:
50? for each electronic memory card with 1 gigabyte of memory or less, $1.00 for each electronic memory card with more than one gigabyte of memory but less than 8 gigabytes of memory, and $3.00 for each electronic memory card with 8 gigabytes of memory or more.
What does this have to do with music? No one seems to know. The CPCC seems to be arguing that such cards are regularly used for making copies of music, but that’s ridiculous. Perhaps some are using memory cards for such things, but it seems unlikely that it’s a large percentage of such cards. They’re regularly used in digital cameras and phones, but those have little to do with music most of the time.
The rates are also flat out ridiculous. We’ve already discussed how the levy in Canada represents around 90% of the cost of a CD-R in some cases. While this isn’t quite that bad, it’s starting out high, and the rates are static so it’s only going to get worse. As Michael Geist explains:
The financial impact of the levy would be significant. A 2GB SD card currently sells for about $6.00 and this would add an additional dollar or almost 15% to the cost. Given that the levy would remain static (or even increase) but the costs of SD cards are dropping by roughly 30% annually, the percentage of levy in the overall cost would likely gradually increase over time. Moreover, music plays a small role in the use of memory cards. A recent report indicates that digital cameras are the primary market for SD cards with smartphones the second biggest (and fastest growing) market. Music is a small part of the equation, yet the CPCC is demanding payment for every memory card sold in Canada regardless of its intended or actual use.
Another way to put it in perspective is via Knopf’s original post, in which he notes that this is actually the second time the CPCC has tried this, and the last time around they wanted $0.008 per megabyte, and he does the math on that:
On today’s typical 16 GB card that sells for about $30 or less, that would be a “tax” of $128 — or about 400% — which shows the CPCC’s foresight and the application of Moore’s Law.
It’s really quite astounding how little the legacy recording industry seems to understand technology and the advance of progress at times. A tax like this is massively damaging to their own interests in the long run, but they just don’t seem to recognize it. In the meantime, as ridiculous as this is, Knopf notes that it still means there’s going to be a lot of wasted money fighting over this:
Unfortunately, the way the Copyright Board works, it seems inevitable that one or more parties are going to have to spend a lot of money to convince the Board not to impose this levy — or “tax” as most will call it. The CPCC will spend a lot of money — which it has from undistributed levies — to line up its usual expensive experts to provide evidence of its entitlement to this “tax”. One or more parties will have to provide evidence and experts at great expense to refute this — even though it seems so obviously wrong. But that’s the way the Copyright Board mechanism works in this and other instances where a collective is entitled to file a proposed tariff.
It’s really quite stunning the sense of entitlement the industry feels here, that it can simply put a massive tax on a form of memory that is rarely used for music. Though, if it passes, and musicians really want to make some money, they might be better off getting jobs at Best Buy and pushing people to buy SD cards.