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laurel l. russwurm's political musings

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Please Don’t Extend The CD Levy

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Proposed Levies to Be Collected on the Sale, in Canada, of Blank Audio Recording Media

Pursuant to subsection 83(6) of the Copyright Act, the Copyright Board hereby publishes the statement filed by the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) on March 31, 2011, with respect to the levies it proposes to collect, effective January 1, 2012, on the sale, in Canada, of blank audio recording media.

The Canada Gazette: FILE: Private Copying 2012-2013

Not just an increase, they want to extend the levy to memory cards.

3. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the levy rates shall be

(a) 29¢ for each CD-R, CD-RW, CD-R Audio or CD-RW Audio;

(b) 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.

It seems I’ve missed the deadline, but I have to object anyway.

Flora records The Hummingbirds album

Not long ago my sister’s 2 gigabyte hard drive was the biggest in the family. But today, an 8 gigabyte memory stick was just adequate to address my child’s needs to transport work between home and school.

If this levy is approved, every Canadian schoolchild will be paying the three dollar tax.

But what about the kids whose families can’t afford computers at home? If you count up the kids doing their homework in public lending libraries, you might be surprised that those figures might be higher than you think.

And for what? As far as I can tell, this is purely a way to subsidize the mainstream music industry.

The money doesn’t seem to go to the independent musicians who making up a growing percentage of the music industry. The levy penalises them, too.

And, of course, all Canadian consumers.

Memory cards are much more than “blank audio recording media.”



GILLES MCDOUGALL
Secretary General
56 Sparks Street, Suite 800
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C9
613-952-8624 (telephone)
613-952-8630 (fax)

Dear Mr. McDougall:

Although it seems that I’m late with my objection, I hope you will listen to what I have to say.

I object strongly to the extension of the private copying levy. Audio can be recorded on any digital medium, and subsidising the mainstream recording industry and the CPCC by assessing a levy against things like memory sticks is not only wrong, but grossly unfair.

In the time I’ve been a parent it has become necessary for school children to have memory sticks to transport school work to and from school.

Assessing a levy against memory sticks is akin to assessing a levy against paper notebooks to subsidize the music industry. After all, music can be written on paper, so why shouldn’t paper notebook sales go toward subsidizing the mainstream music industry?

My reason for stressing “mainstream music industry” is that the existing levy actually harms independent musicians by artificially inflating their costs when they create their own CDs to distribute their own music direct to fans, either online or via CD sales after the show are not the beneficiaries of the CD levy.

I am aware that exemptions can be made, but buyers are “required to complete an online application, and agree to be subject to an ongoing contractual relationship with CPCC.”

As it is, there are a great many uses for writable CDs that do not involve recorded music. For myself I purchased my first CD burner because the largest floppy disk was not large enough to hold a single photograph taken with my new digital camera.

Over the years I have purchased many CDs to hold my personal digital photographs. But it is really difficult to search through CDs so I am now transferring my digital photos to external hard drives. Something not much talked about is the fragility of digital storage media.

Over time the contents of my paper photo album will fade, but digital storage that is fine today can easily be corrupt tomorrow. Which is why the safest thing to do is to store multiple copies.

Digital formats and media are also transient. Media formats or devices become obsolete at an alarming rate, necessitating transferring everything to a new media. I own recordings on 78s that are older than I am, but they play on my phonograph. Yet documents stored on 5.25″ floppy disks made 20 years ago are lost to me.

If the levy is extended to cover all digital storage, are we to be hit for the levy every time we are forced to upgrade our media? The mainstream music companies want their subsidy. But who is subsidizing consumers?

It annoys me that I am forced to subsidize the music industry when I make family photographs or home movies. I expect software people would be equally unhappy about having to subsidize the music industry with routers and network monitoring tools. But GPS units, video games, sewing machines, answering machines, and musical instruments with midi capability and cell phones all use memory cards too.

Most Canadians use computers – digital devices – for one thing or another. Placing a levy on digital storage in order to subsidize a single industry will be damaging to us all, in all of our endeavours.

Please do not extend the levy beyond CDs.

Thank you for listening.

Regards,
Laurel L. Russwurm

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