For many years, the recording industry has been able to convince the Canadian government that it needs to add a "private copying levy" to various forms of blank media, to reimburse the industry for any "private copying" that happens on that media. This is pretty questionable for a number of reasons -- basically amounting to a government tax to support a private industry and its inability to adapt its business model to the market. At times, this private copying levy can be an astounding 70%
of the cost of blank CDs. Once mp3 players (specifically the iPod) started to become popular, the recording industry fought to have the private levy attached to those players as well. In late 2003, the industry got its wish -- but with a catch. A ruling found that the devices could be taxed, but if they were, then downloading unauthorized content would be seen as legal
(uploading unauthorized content would still be illegal). A judge later overturned
the iPod levy, but some in the industry have kept fighting for it, and the Copyright Board of Canada supports
extending the levy to iPods.
However, in a surprise move, the Canadian Recording Industry Association (basically, Canada's version of the RIAA -- controlled by American record labels, of course) has come out against extending the private copying levy to mp3 players
, admitting that if the levy is extended (even though it will send millions of dollars directly into recording industry bank accounts), Canadians may (incorrectly, in the view of the CRIA) start to believe that downloading is legal. Of course, some people pointed out this loophole
in the recording industry's efforts to extend the private copying levy years ago -- but it seems that it just occurred to the powers that be. Once again, it's a case for the industry to be careful what it wishes for. The private copying levy makes the industry a ton of money, but does so at the expense of anger from purchasers of any blank media. Still, that anger is probably better than the anger generated by thousands of lawsuits against file sharers based on flimsy evidence.