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Canada Quashes Copyright Tax on MP3 Players 437

Posted by michael
from the rated-q-for-quash dept.
Rippy the Gator writes "The Globe and Mail says that consumers may soon be paying less for MP3 players because the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that special copyright levies applied to digital music players are not legal. You might want to keep those receipts if you're giving them as a Christmas Gift."
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Canada Quashes Copyright Tax on MP3 Players

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:01AM (#11115120)
    Look...

    How will canadian artists and record companies stay in business if everybody is going to rip them off and the government isn't going to help them by encouraging consumers to pay taxes to help their brother canadians.

    You're all so selfish. I feel like moving south to the U.S.
    • You are wrong, it means that Canadians cannot anymore hide behind a levies law.
      It means that soon the floodstreams of lawsuits against illegal users will flow...
      • " You are wrong, it means that Canadians cannot anymore hide behind a levies law. It means that soon the floodstreams of lawsuits against illegal users will flow..."

        No, it was ruled that the levies were illegal because only Parliament (the upper house) has the authority to enact such a levy, not the Copyright Board of Canada. Whether or not the levies make sense or are appropriate is not the issue. This ruling was simply about legal jurisdiction, and I am very sure we have not seen the end of this.

      • Sure we can. The levy still exists for blank media such as CD-R.

        I personally don't consider it 'hiding' either. If I'm forced to pay this fee regardless of whether I use the media for music or not, I have zero guilt when it comes to downloading mp3's off of the internet or copying CDs/songs from friends. I still go to shows, and I still buy the CDs of the bands I like as well.
      • Wrong. From my last [slashdot.org] post on this...

        Under Canadian law, the CRIA has already lost the downloading case. No clue how the appeal is going - anyone have links?

        Here's what the judge said in the last ruling - levy or not:
        "No evidence was presented that the alleged infringers either distributed or authorized the reproduction of sound recordings," von Finckenstein wrote in his 28-page ruling. "They merely placed personal copies into their shared directories which were accessible by other computer users via

    • never mind the music industry, I am more interested in learning about this "musid" industry ;-)
    • It's bad enough that we take food out of the starving artists in America, now we're doing it to Canadians. Just in time for a cold, cold winter.
    • Heh (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Your post is funny but in all seriousness it's kind of odd that Canadians rant against the US music industry for its aggressive campaign against illegal file traders when in Canada, people have already been paying the music industry whenever they buy mp3 players and blank CDs. At least in the US, you get fined after breaking the law instead of beforehand in anticipation. I guess ignorance is bliss.
      • Re:Heh (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Egonis (155154) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:29AM (#11115314)
        Agreed!

        I remember when CD-R's were quite suddenly affected by the recording taxes -- did you know that the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) imposed a tax on Audio Tapes and VHS Cassettes back in the early 80's?

        So many people here just don't know that these fees have been implemented into the sales structure already, and assume that things are just strange in the US.

        I do think, though that these taxes are not a terrible idea, as it keeps the recording industry off of our backs for the most part.
        • Do you guys have the same Tax on DVD-Rs and DVD burners?
        • Sorry but you are way off base with that statement. The CRTC has never had the authority to impose taxes, levies or fines - and they still don't.

          Honestly, what kind of country allows an entity other than the elected representatives to impose taxes?
          • by Egonis (155154)

            Sorry but you are way off base with that statement. The CRTC has never had the authority to impose taxes, levies or fines - and they still don't.


            I recall the CRTC discussing and organizing the levy, although they are not the governing body, they are seen as the first-step decision makers in these matters... do you think that cabinet ministers wholly understand the entire situation? They have to confide in people at the CRTC

            • The CRTC are most definitely not the decision makers with regard to the creation of taxes - this includes taxes on physical media. Their job is to create policy to ensure that the industry is meeting the goals that parliament has established in the Telecommunications and Broadcasting Acts. The need to created taxes on recording media is a subject oustide of the Commission's expertise and authority. Consequently, I am sure they would not be consulted at all regarding issue.

              Obviously MPs are not experts a
        • by chrish (4714)
          If you RTFA you'll discover that the tax on CD-Rs and whatnot is still in place; it's just the tax on MP3 players that's been struck down.

          I won't be calling up the government any time soon to get "my" $25 back (got a Rio Karma for my anniversary); I'll happily soak $25 for the priviledge of not dealing with government bureaucracy.
      • Are you trying to shake us out of blissful ignorance to liberate us, or because you are jealous?

        The US gov may be very influenced by the big industry associations like RIAA and MPAA, but things are a little different in Canada. The Heritage Ministry here is willfully biased against the rights of Canadian consumers and communications companies... essentially against everybody except for artists (i.e., rightsholders). This means that movement towards copyright reform that could be as crappy as you have in

    • If it means fewer people will be exposed to Celine Dion then it can't be a bad thing.
  • Hooray! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mistersooreams (811324) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:06AM (#11115146) Homepage
    Isn't it strange how Canada seems to have such a different attitude to copyright enforcement to America, when Europe seems to want to follow in the footsteps of American law? Canada is culturally more similar to America than Europe is, besides the obvious geographical proximity. Is this the Canadian government deliberately being contrary? I'd be interested to hear from some Canadians on the matter.
    • Re:Hooray! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenisNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:09AM (#11115163) Homepage
      I can speak about the going ons inside the house [since I don't really care to watch] but from a "consumer" standpoint I saw visible protests by stores. It wasn't uncommon to see "you pay more because of canadian levies" in shops as huge as FutureShop [equiv to the american BestBuy].

      It was quite clear that the retail outlets weren't too happy about the levies. ... Neither are the citizens since well I use my recordable media for software backups not music.

      However, the canadian music industry feels they "deserve" more money. Instead of actually, oh I don't know, earning the fucking money they'd rather guilt trip the citizens and pressure the house to bend to their whims.

      Tom
      • I've always found the levies interesting. I know we have them in america, but they're so tiny no one complains. Canadian levies are crazy! And when they started looking at hard drives... holy cow.

        In a similar topic, can you imagine going to college, and finding in your tuition a $90 fee to pay for the "free Napster" that the schools were suckered in to? Not only that, but most people have iPods, and would rather go with iTunes.

      • in shops as huge as FutureShop [equiv to the american BestBuy]

        Just FYI - Futureshop is owned by BestBuy.

    • I wouldn't get too excited. They just held that the law needs to be changed as it currently does not give authority for taxes on anything other than media. If people are not going to bother burning music to CDs any more, they may amend the law to also apply to storage devices designed to store and play music.
    • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Fr05t (69968)
      I'm a Canadian and this is bad news. I would prefer to have a levy on my mp3 player or any other device/recordable media.

      Why? When the RIAC(dunno if that's what it's called or not just guessing) wants to start suing their customers, we point to the levy and kindly ask them to stuff it.

      The Canadian way is to pay levys/taxes on everything so we don't have to worry about anything. Healthcare, perscription drugs, and social programs are just a few things that are subsidized or free because of levys and taxes.
      • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jest3r (458429)
        I get the same impression ... by dropping the media levy on devices that support MP3's the Canadian RIAA can start going after Canadian MP3 file traders. On the otherhand the levy on my iPod was $25 ... which irks me enough that I make a point to copy / pirate / trade everything just to get my moneys worth.

        I did buy 10 hard to find tracks from the Canadian iTunes music store when it opened last week - good experience.

        Ramble on ...
        • I get the same impression ... by dropping the media levy on devices that support MP3's the Canadian RIAA can start going after Canadian MP3 file traders.

          Hmm, I thought that in Canada it was always illegal to share/trade copyrighted music over e.g. P2P networks. Isn't the only thing allowed being downloading copyrighted music, and not uploading?
          • Hmm, I thought that in Canada it was always illegal to share/trade copyrighted music over e.g. P2P networks. Isn't the only thing allowed being downloading copyrighted music, and not uploading?

            That used to be the case, right up until a judge said that uploading was also legal (since it was only an equivalent of giving access to a digital photocopy machine.) Now, I don't know what the current status is, as another judge can just as easily disagree with that precedent.

            Of course, there's plenty of strange r

      • Re:Hooray! (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tdhillman (839276)
        Why is it that the quietest voices in all of this are always they artists themselves? The RIAC and RIAA don't speak for me, and despite having had my copyrights infringed many a time, I've never seen dime one in retribution. The RIAA for example doesn't give the fine money to those harmed (the artists) but rather to the organisation.
      • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by roman_mir (125474)
        I am a Canadian and I disagree with the 'canadian way'. I guess we all have our differences, I for example am for a 2-tier health system, fewer social programs and I am definitely against any taxes (give me 15% flat tax anytime) that I have to pay without getting anything tangible in return.

        Also I don't download copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holders.

        • "I am a Canadian and I disagree with the 'canadian way'. I guess we all have our differences, I for example am for a 2-tier health system, fewer social programs and I am definitely against any taxes (give me 15% flat tax anytime) that I have to pay without getting anything tangible in return."

          Was that a joke?
      • "The Canadian way is to pay levys/taxes on everything so we don't have to worry about anything. Healthcare, perscription drugs, and social programs are just a few things that are subsidized or free because of levys and taxes. Sure people like to argue about how well the system works, but last time I checked people don't go backrupt when they get sick here."

        I've seen this statement by others before -- basically, "I pay a levy on blank media, so I can go ahead and pirate CDs, since the artist is getting p

      • I agree. It is preferable to pay a relatively small levy on media or devices in exchange for the ability to download with impunity.

        Incidentally, it's the CRIA (Canadian Recording Industry Association).
      • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:46AM (#11116018) Homepage Journal
        So you think it best to just pay the exploitative tax so you can sleep better? I think it is insane to punish ALL consumers for the trespasses of a few.

        Whats next? Why stop at the recording industry.

        The government should not be confiscating money from the people to pay to corporations or similar bodies. The government should be protecting the consumer from them, not abetting them.

        I'd rather have the RIAA or similar breathing down the necks of people who break the law than having to pay so some schmuch can download stuff without paying for it.

        It is NOT the same as paying taxes for medical care or such. That is exactly the line of thinking the RICA/RIAA would love people to believe.

    • But, in America there is currently no levy/tax on mp3 players that I know of.
    • by c (8461)
      Isn't it strange how Canada seems to have such a different attitude to copyright enforcement to America, when Europe seems to want to follow in the footsteps of American law?

      It's not that there's a particularly different attitude, it's just that media interests have less power in government. The Canadian recording/movie industry just can't go out and buy new laws like they can in the USA.

      But give them time. The government is currently working towards ratifying WIPO and doing a bit of "cleaning up" of ex

    • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nijika (525558)
      Is this the Canadian government deliberately being contrary?

      For later referece, Canada is a sovereign country seperate from the U.S., so what we do up here isn't always a reaction to what is happening down south. As a liberal[1] country, we often make decisions based on general fairness to all of our citizens.

      [1] - And no I don't mean Liberal, as in the U.S. swear word. I mean it in the classic sense [reference.com].

    • Canada is culturally more similar to America than Europe is

      You sure about this? Fire and Ice: The Myth of Converging Values [environics.net]

      Cheers,
      Richard

  • by HoserHead (599) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:07AM (#11115154)

    According to the article, the law doesn't include any text about MP3 players, so collecting levies on them isn't allowed. As in many decisions, it has been left to Parliament to make the final choice.

    The short of it is that if lobbyists get their way, the levy will be back on MP3 players; all that's needed is for an amendment to the Copyright Act to be drafted and passed.

    • Canada's Copyright Act gives the federal board the authority to apply levies on blank media such as compact discs and audio cassettes. But the wording of the act has not kept up with the new technology of MP3 players, represented by the wildly popular iPod, which use an embedded memory rather than discs or cassettes, to store digital copies of songs.

      Exactly! All they have to do is change the Act to include digital media players (and any possible future devices/media) so that this won't happen again.

      Buy
  • by jawtheshark (198669) * <{slashdot} {at} {jawtheshark.com}> on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:08AM (#11115161) Homepage Journal
    Those extra levies on casettes/minidiscs/CD-R and apparently also MP3 players, do they really reach the artists? How do they redistrubute, and on what criteria?

    I always thought that this money will never be seen by the artists, and was essentially just a scam.

    • by schon (31600) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:15AM (#11115210)
      Information about that can be found here. [neil.eton.ca]

      In short: yes, they redistribute the money.
    • by HoserHead (599)
      All copyright levies are collected by an independent group called the Canadian Private Copying Collective [www.cpcc.ca]. Money started being distributed to copyright holders in 2003:

      CPCC began making payments early in 2003. In January, CPCC carried out the first of a series of payments being made from the over $28 million in private copying royalties available for distribution from 2000 and 2001. 2003 will also see payment from the additional $26 million available from 2002.

    • by grub (11606)

      I always thought that this money will never be seen by the artists, and was essentially just a scam

      The money is supposed to go to the Canadian artists' collective (whatever it's called). Personally I prefer having the levies. They are what allow us to download music legally here. Now that it seems that the levies are starting to be discarded we'll probably end up with a bunch of lawsuits ala-RIAA up here.
    • by gUmbi (95629) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:24AM (#11115277)

      Those extra levies on casettes/minidiscs/CD-R and apparently also MP3 players, do they really reach the artists? How do they redistrubute, and on what criteria?


      It's interesting that I was just looking into this yesterday. They have a website [www.cpcc.ca] that they've collected $80 million over that past 5 years and distributed $30 million of it. The distributions are based on radio airplay and CD sales. The funds are paid out by groups like SOCAN (an artist organization that handles royalties, etc.).

      So, yes, the money is getting out slowly - unfortunately, it's being distributed to Celine Dion and Bryan Adams for the most part.
      • And where did the other $50 million go?
      • Just note that there's nothing to say that compensation is Canadian artist-centric. Beyonce' and Britney also get their fair share too. An infinitesmal amount to be sure, but they get a cut.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    With such advantegeous currency exchange rates, a lot less taxes, and the extra fee, I've bought my IPod on a trip to New York and ended up paying 100$ less than if I would of bought it in Canada.


    Or there's always Ebay...if the US shipper agrees to indicate "Gift" on the box, you won't pay any taxes whatsoever.

  • by hsmith (818216)
    they are taxing consumers for an industry? holy carp

    just wait until America gets a hold of this idea, the RIAA would love this. just remember, they are not taxes, they are fees ;)
  • I'm a Canadian (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ID000001 (753578)
    .. and we have tax on CDR and tapes and other stuff for the longest time. However, the tax itself is not really meant to make copying legal. But instead, the tax were simply there to minimzes any damange that you might be doing! What if you are using the CDR for personal data only? You are technically not required to pay it. However, the process of recovering those tax are lenghty and trouble some. So most let it go. What I don't understand is. How could someone pentlies you for something you haven't done y
    • Re:I'm a Canadian (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you're a Canadian, I'm ashamed of you.

      That has got to be one of the worst paragraphs I have ever read.

      Your Grade 9 English teacher would be mortified.

  • Double-edged sword (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mwongozi (176765) <slashthree&davidglover,org> on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:19AM (#11115243) Homepage
    Digital sharing of copyrighted music in countries which put a tax on CD-Rs, MP3 players, etc. is effectively legal, since you're paying for the priviledge of doing so whether you actually are or not.
    • "Digital sharing of copyrighted music in countries which put a tax on CD-Rs, MP3 players, etc. is effectively legal, since you're paying for the priviledge of doing so whether you actually are or not."

      Not correct. There might be laws on the book of that country which allow copying under a certain set of circumstances, but the existence of a tarrif or levy does not in itself make piracy legal. It's designed to offset the financial damage purportely suffered by artists, songwriters and the like but does

  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:33AM (#11115343) Homepage
    I find it funny that the article stated, as a matter of fact, that the ruling would erode revenue to muscians. But even though there are probably tens of thousands of musicans in Canada, the journalist couldn't find even one to interview about the alleged hardship?

    Does anyone have any real evidence that musicans actually get this money? Everything I've read about the music industry says they get zero.

    • "Does anyone have any real evidence that musicans actually get this money? Everything I've read about the music industry says they get zero."

      Yes [cpcc.ca]. Poke around that site if you'd like to learn more. A little knowledge goes a long way.

      $28MM (Canadian) has been paid to date, but remember that only Canadian artists and record companies are eligible.

  • by badfish99 (826052) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:34AM (#11115348)
    Does this mean the Canadian music industry will have to make a living by suing its customers, like the US industry does?
  • just a moment here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by compro01 (777531) on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:40AM (#11115394)
    this only removes the tax on MP3 players. the tax on blank cds and tapes remains. but hey, it's only $0.25. i can deal with that.

    and the canadian court system already informed the CRIA (canadian RIAA) that they can take their ideas to sue and stick them where the sun don't shine, so this isn't gonna change that in a hurry.
    • "and the canadian court system already informed the CRIA (canadian RIAA) that they can take their ideas to sue and stick them where the sun don't"

      My impression was that 'their ideas to sue' was about the only part of that case that did survive. But the CRIA (actually the labels) were told that they would have to justify lifting the expectation of privacy given by ISPs, and that they would have to abide by traditional rules of evidence.

      The court decision is widely declaimed as terrible by the CRIA and the
  • by jimand (517224) * on Friday December 17, 2004 @10:51AM (#11115493)
    Whenever I investigate buying a new electronic device from the U.S., I cannot complete the transaction because the vendor will not ship to Canada. I've seen this on thinkgeek [thinkgeek.com] and amazon [amazon.com]. I wonder if this is (one) bottleneck and the removal of the levy will allow cross-border shopping?
  • Ooohh - Canada. The silver lining in the Global Warming cloud.
  • In my native tongue (French), Noël means Christmas. Wonder if that's a hint...
  • Will people be able to get their money back that they had to pay on this tax? If so who will be paying it back?

    Im suprised they will not just scrap this who tax levy (I think they call it a copyright levy in the news article).

    "This year, MP3 sales are expected to generate $5-million of the $25- to $30-million in levies collected for musicians. The levies range from as little as $2 to $25 per device."

    Anyone have any figures as to how much was spent because of this tax, not just for MP3 players, for but a
  • by guidryp (702488) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:19AM (#11115718)
    Originally this scheme was started with the rationale to capture revenue lost when you copied an album from a friend. Knowing there was no way to stop this or prosecute this, the entertainment lobby came up with a way to get paid for this "violation". At the same time the law was amended to allow private copying. A coup really. The industry allows a concession that was unstoppable and in return taxes all media.

    Cue the internet music boom. Buisness as usual, time to go to war and kick in the doors of some file sharers, sue some grannies and single moms when there kids download music. But wait, that dang private copying amendment makes it a grey area.

    Unfortunately what will happen next is there will be an attack on the "private copying" portion of the law. It will be changed, eventually we too will have RCMP raiding file downloaders. But of course the levies will stay as well.

    The simple fact is we are in a corpocracy. The law is for the corporations. The certainly won't give up the revenue stream from levies but they will loby until they change the laws so they can sue.

    Eventually we will have the worst of all possible worlds.

  • Some of these posts are really ignorant.
    Ok first of all it's not the RIAC- it is the CRIA [www.cria.ca].
    The levy is going to the CPCC [www.cpcc.ca].
    For all the people who are saying this is a bad thing- you are complete morons. We are in a common law system- putting music on a hard drive is not going to be suddenly illegal because the courts found the CPCC levy illegal. The CPCC does not have unlimited powers of taxation-- and I am glad that this has happened.
    So for all you trolls- nothing has changed regarding your rights, and
    • Ok first of all it's not the RIAC- it is the CRIA.

      So, does that rhyme with ``creep'' or with ``crybaby''?

      Both are fitting...
  • Front page (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Friday December 17, 2004 @11:59AM (#11116151) Journal
    Actually, I was surprised to see this on the front page of the news today (the Province, I think, for British Columbians).

    Most articles of this nature usually end up being buried amongst other "lesser" news as technical mumby-jumbo etc etc.

    It's really quite nice to see that not only has this stupid tax been repealed, but that the media are giving notice to it. I wish they'd do so more often when they try and slip these things in.


    One thing I wonder though, as it mentions "keeping Xmas receipts" - is whether or not consumers can request a rebate on the tax if they've paid it already, as it's been ruled illegitimate.

    But then we get back into the usual stupidity:

    He said the Copyright Act clearly defines media that legally can be used for private duplication of copyrighted material and MP3 players no longer meet that criteria.

    Sorry buddies, while this might mean you can't copy a disc from your friend, it certainly doesn't take away any rights I have to copy my CD to my own iPod. My music, my property, my right to do what I want with it (within my domain).
  • by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel&hotmail,com> on Friday December 17, 2004 @12:40PM (#11116689) Homepage Journal
    [I live in Canada]

    We are allowed to copy music for personal reasons. In exchange, a levy is placed on blank media.

    All for the good.

    And now, the appeal ruling is that MP3 players are not subject to the levy, because the Act doesn't mention them.

    All for the good -- except that the Act may/will be changed to allow the levy.

    Most MP3 devices do NOT facilitate the copying of music! If you can show me how to plug media into an iPod (for instance) to allow the iPod to function as a duplicator; or you are willing to GIVE your iPod to someone else, then the iPod should have the levy applied. If the iPod is capable of downloading music without another computer with media, it should be levied.

    And here's the problem -- an iPod CAN'T download from the internet, and you WON'T be lending it out, and it CAN'T have media plugged into it.

    About the best you can do is a player with a built-in FM radio, and the ability to record to a removed Flash device.

    And the levy should be placed on the Flash media.

    Not the players.

    So, the ruling is good, but the REASON is wrong, because it opens up the possibility of a lobby to change the Copyright Act.

    I just hope that when that happens, the politicians see their way clear to a correct ammendment (say, a levy on blank VCR tapes and DVD recordable media, and allowing personal copying of video).

    Now, the joker that suggested that is was not OK to use your iPod on Dec 15, is basically full of it. The personal copying provision allows us to copy to ANY media that is commonly used for the storage of music. That would (by design) include your iPod. So suck it up -- that cannot be removed without changing the Copyright Act.

    Ratboy.

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