back to article Canucks kill second attempt at 'iPod tax'

Canada's controversial "iPod tax" has once again been struck down in court. The Federal Court of Appeal yesterday rejected a decision by Canada's Copyright Board to collect fees from would-be MP3 player customers to compensate artists for revenue lost to "private copying." The proposed tax included a CAD5 strike on digital …


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  1. Nexox Enigma

    The Netherlands

    Is it just me, or does the Netherlands have the only justice system that routinely uses reason to solve issues? My only exposure to their legal system is through El Reg, but it seems that every time I read about a new precident or decision, it seems to be entirely rational.

    Feel free to correct me if I've got it wrong.

  2. Mo
    Thumb Up

    The difference…

    …is that blank media is used to distribute, whereas MP3 players are simply used to consume. You can't equate the two, really. MP3 players may encourage people to try to OBTAIN materials illegally, but that's the polar opposite of the argument for collecting levies on blank media (i.e., that people can use the media to easily distribute illegally).

    Unless a rip-roaring trade starts up in swapping MP3 players between friends, pre-loaded with thousands of tracks, I can't see how the Canadian courts could have ruled any other way.

  3. Andy S


    they are basically assuming that anyone who buys any medium, in which its possible to store copyrighted material, is a right thieving bar-steward, charging them accordingly and handing it over to the record companies. Isn't free enterprise wonderful!

  4. Tom

    The iPod tax was in effect

    When the courts tossed it out the first time the price of the iPod mini I was looking to buy dropped $25, the larger models dropped even more.

    They also wanted to tax blank DVDs.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're all crooks

    Except the Canada's Private Copyright Collective (CPCC) who collect those taxes (levy) for the government and distributes those fund's to the deserving artists.

    I for one would like to know how much and who gets what.

    an embarrassed canadian

  6. Sean Nevin

    It's not so bad...

    With the "Tax" on media, the government basically told our "Recording Ass. of Canada" that since they're being compensated for their 'losses' they can't go after people for downloading. Hence, filesharing here in the Great White North is perfectly legal! Yay Canada!

  7. Ryan Stewart

    They are double dipping

    So they let them sue people for $180k a song when they suspect them of downloading but charge a blanket fee to compensate them for possible damages.

    Its like winning a malpractice suit AND keeping the insurance money.

  8. J


    Not that I am for this thing, but there seems to be an inconsistency here. Well, either they tax both or tax neither. Although the $25 and $75 feel way too steep, I'd say.

    If the levy is to compensate for "personal copying" using CDs and cassettes, why would it be logically different from personal copy using MP3 player? (ripping your CD or multiplying copies of a file bought online) Actually, the levy would make *more* sense in the case of the digital audio players, because their fundamental function is music, while CDs can be used for much more than that -- and therefore anybody who would never be interested in making a copy of a music CD (because most now use MP3 anyway) would still be paying for music copying.

  9. JeffyPooh

    AFAIK - no levy on DVD-Rs

    Spindles of 100 blank DVDs are routinely on sale for $15. Meanwhile, a spindle of 100 CDs is usually about $30. The difference is the "music" levy because as you know, music goes onto CDs, and DVDs are For Video Only And Can't Be Used For Music Under Any Circumstances.

    And last I heard, the CPCC collects the money, and then endlessly philosophizes about when they might consider thinking about starting to contemplate perhaps maybe someday possibly having a meeting to set a date to discuss the agenda for a constructive framework to proceed on forward planning for the eventual agreement on the potential for actual distribution of the money.

    Or maybe tomorrow; Tea Time!

  10. Joseph

    Oh Canada, our home and native land....

    Actually file sharing is "legal" in Canada because we have sane copyright laws that basically say if we buy a copy of any media, be it audio or video, we have the right to make copies for backup, the car, the country house,etc and we can give friends and family a a copy.

    This was written before the rise of digital file sharing, which has plunged us in sorta a gray zone, since technically sharing with people we don't know personally is illegal but then they have to prove that we don't know these folks. So instead of trying to change the law they decided to levy the tax in order to compensate the industry for the lost revenue.

    All in all it's not that bad, since you don't really feel it (hey man $30 for 100 cd's still mean it's much less than $1 per cd), and to be honest if you really want to avoid paying a $75 tax on an ipod you can always take a short drive down to the good old US of A and buy it there. Mind you the fuel you would spend would probably cancel out any savings.

    Also it helps when when our federal law enforcement agency, the RCMP, basically said they would not waste ANY public funds going after individuals who download and share files.

    All in all we have it pretty good here. You can download to your hearts content and not worry about being sued and stuff, but organizations such as piratebay would get shut down though if they where hosting in Canada.

  11. James O'Brien
    Thumb Up


    So how come the Canadians just dont buy from an online store in the states and have shipped? Usually cheaper and someitmes free shipping :)

    As for the DVD comment:

    </em giggles at JeffyPooh and puts a DVD of MP3s into the DVD Player hooked upto TV and Surround sound.>

  12. Jason Clery

    Blank media

    If blank media is taxed "to pay for copying", it sounds like copying is legal, after all, you are paying for it

  13. mike

    seems good to me

    why not it would solve the debate world wide if all recordable media was taxed and this went as copyright then the user could do exactly as they wish and download what they want share if they want without fear of the the copyright people sueing for thousands of dollers.

  14. Red Bren

    Harp Seals?

    Can a harp seal play tunes? Better tax it quick!

    Mine's the nice warm fur coat, thanks...

  15. Sam

    @Red Bren

    A Sealer goes into a pub with a baby seal under his arm and says "I'll have a JD on the rocks, and a Canadian club for me mate."

    The sealskin, thanks...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    And how, exactly, do you decide which artists get what out of the ensuing glob of money?

    And why, exactly, should I be forced to pay Metallica and Jay Z for the privilege of using an MP3 player to listen to my own music and that of other independent musicians who give their tracks away?

    Copying levies are bullsh*t - they assume the user is a criminal and then compensate the wrong people as a result. If this logic were carried over into real life you'd get charged fifty bucks for walking into a mall on the presumption you were going to shoplift from a clothing store - even if you're there to buy a keyboard and a copy of Bioshock.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    New funding models

    Now that DRM is dead (for now) it is time to start looking for alternative ways of funding the production of music. As the record companies are doing such a p*sspoor job, some kind of additional direct funding from government has to be a good idea.

    Tax the music listener and give the money to music colleges, performing arts centres and independent Not For Profit organisations that train promising artists and help them produce and distribute their own music. There is no reason why the resources needed to make music should all be controlled by a single money-focused cartel - the indie scene needs some money and some protection so as to prevent aspiring musicians and performers being tied into exploitative contracts with a big record companies.

    This will provide cheaper music for the listener, will produce greater diversity and will encourage a move away from the big marketing led, production line command economy that music currently suffers from.

  18. kevin plemel

    Only in Canada eh?!

    The saddest part is the recording insdustry is accusing all Canadians of being software pirates. Last year, they succeeded in a tax on all recordable media, tapes, disks etc...It is so bad, that there is nearly a 50% tax on large spools of DVD/CD's!

    I guess we Canadians have no personal Photo's, home movies, or legal music we store or mix on cd's...I used to believe we lived in a free country...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    French are then the most'st idiot'st'st

    In France it is legal to make a private copy BUT

    you still have to pay a fee on a blank media

    VHS, CD (0.4€/unit) or DVD (1.6€/unit) and then again on your iPod (17,69€ on a 20Gb) and on your external HDD (from 5€ to 70€ on HDD over 400Gb)

    and it gets better ... mobile phones are about to be taxed.

    All the monies go to SACEM (the likes of RIAA) and a trickle may reach the artist.

    And since it's not enough, on top you may be turned in by your ISP just because you consumed more than 2Gb on your monthly broadband connection.

  20. JohnG

    Are they going to give the music away...

    ...if/when they get a tax on players?

  21. mike

    @ David

    And how, exactly, do you decide which artists get what out of the ensuing glob of money?

    What makes you think the right artist gets the money now most get pennies if anything from copyright most ends up in the labels pocket. with broadcasting the split is even more unfair with the major labels taking 80% of revenue. even if the station plays only indie labels so it dont matter as long as its paid. The above being a long term argument against the presant system.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    That's nothing, come to sunny Spain and meet the fockers of SGAE, who tax absolutely everything from ADSL to printer ink.

    There used to be a site against them called putasgae but seems that a judge has managed to close it down and fine some 36,000€ to some people involved.

    If the Netherlands have it sussed it out nicely why can't we all have it the same way? we're supposed to be Europeans I would have thought.

    This sort of people they do reach some levels of absurd, just followed the link to the ASCAP wikipage and it seems that they tried to sue the boy and girl scouts for singing copyrighted songs.

  23. Diogenies
    Paris Hilton

    And I listen to nothing but classical

    I get very annoyed having to subsidise the 'pop/rock/rap/metal' with levies or do these organisations also distribute to LSO, Berlin Phil, Vienna Phil, Tallis Scholars etc etc

    The Paris icon - as she gets subsidised as well

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    iPod Tax - Alms for the rich

    The problem with these so-called tariffs (copy taxes) is it allows very rich record producers to get richer using my money paid on the CD I backup my computer data upon. And I can not find a single example of a musician being paid anything from all of the money collected.

    See for how the tariff is supposedly applied and distributed. It's all very vague.

    Here's what the CPCC had proposed in the new tax/tariff that was denied according to the article here :

    $0.59 (Canadian) on blank CDs

    $8.00 per GB on Memory cards (hand held computers or cameras)

    $2.27 on blank DVD discs

    $21.00 in fees for each gigabyte for MP3 players

    $0.60 cents on cassette tapes

    How do you record music on cameras? The CPCC is staffed by the insane or people so corrupt they may as well be.

  25. bruceld

    We're pacifists...

    I remember when I ran a small business. I'd try to go and buy some blank CD's to back up my business files, etc. Then they'd try to charge me the CPCC levy. Even though it was purely for business data, the CPCC accuses me...and everyone else like me of being a music pirate. No way to prove your innocence, no way to challenge being branded as a pirate and thief. I was stunned at how this organization that I will probably never see can have so much power, and to simply brand me a tried and convicted pirate without even knowing who I was.

    I tell you I hate the CPCC through and through. I vowed then that I would completely encourage piracy to anyone I came across and gave them lots of copies of my MP3's on CD-R. Then I shared my entire collection online until someone had downloaded every single song releasing every track I ever owned in the wild so that everyone on the planet would have access to those files.


  26. Joseph

    @ James O'Brian

    When you have stuffed shipped. your package will be opened at the border and have levies and taxes added it thus defeating the purpose.

    Yeah having taxes kinda sucks, but then again it's a decent trade off knowing you won't be sued for $20,000+ for having digital music.

  27. Stephen Bungay

    No free lunch for them....

    Striking this down is a good thing, and we should do away with the tax on blank media too. I use CDs and DVDs for data storage that is NOT related to the entertainment industry. The tax drives up my costs and my customers costs. The world does not owe the recording industry (they are the ones doing the lobbying) a living. Under the media tax scheme, any artist who strikes out on their own, to use the web to promote and sell CDs they make themselves, will end up funding other artists. Why? Are they somehow stealing the livelyhood of others?

    Whats next, taxing pens, pencils, and art supplies to send money to starving artists? Taxiing film to send the proceeds to photographers? Hmmm.. better not give them any ideas.

  28. Tom

    Only in Canada eh?!

    This has been going on for years, they just try and expand it every year.

    2007 rates.

    Audio cassettes of 40 minutes or more in length 24¢

    CD-R, CD-RW, CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio and MiniDisc 21¢

    Proposed 2008

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

    (a) 29¢ for each audio cassette of 40 minutes or more in length;

    (b) 29¢ for each CD-R or CD-RW;

    (c) 85¢ for each CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio or MiniDisc;

    (d) for removable electronic memory cards in the Secure Digi-

    tal, MultiMedia, and Memory Stick formats with more than

    256 MB of memory, $2 for each card with no more than

    1 Gigabyte (GB) of memory, $5 for each card with more than

    1 GB and no more than 4 GB of memory, and $10 for each

    card with more than 4 GB of memory;

    (e) for digital audio recorders, $5 for each recorder with no

    more than 1 Gigabyte (GB) of memory, $25 for each recorder

    with more than 1 GB and no more than 10 GB of memory, $50

    for each recorder with more than 10 GB and no more than

    30 GB of memory, and $75 for each recorder with more than

    30 GB of memory.

    ADDENDUM: Effective June 8, 2007 the CPCC has withdrawn Sections 2(iv) and 3d) concerning removable electronic memory cards from the proposed tariff for 2008-2009. ...


    So they backed down on memory cards (for the second time) and the courts kicked out the iPod tax (for the second time) but they are appealing.

    Also some record companies are in court to get the whole thing scrapped because it makes private coping legal. They also don't like that they only get 15% of what's left over after "expenses" (not much). CPCC do have VERY nice offices here in Toronto.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cheese and Mountain Land

    In Switzerland the ipod tax was recently passed in the summer... prices went up a lot. Other legislature means it is not quite illegal to download, but uploading is. Still no cases yet to prove or disprove the laws.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hmm.. Burn 30+ CD's and take them, or take my MP3 player's data lead with me to my mates place..

    A 30G Ipod (not that I would ever own one of them!) can make a very good portable HDD :)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Flash hard drives

    What happens when Canada starts to use flash based hard drives for storage instead of these big heavy whizzy things we use now? I think there are 2 Micro Laptops on the market that use memory cards instead of hard drive space. Are they finaly going to be able to use this levvy to get at the rest of your storage?

  32. Diogenies


    But do they ???

    And my point still stands... given the relative sizes of the classical vs 'shit' market/catalogue/turnover more of my levy will go to pay to so-called 'artists' who perform 'shit' than will support people I actually listen to & heaven forbid any of my money will support your hungarian nose-flute rap !

  33. BitTwister


    > Well, aside from making you as completely ignorant regarding music and audio as someone who only listens to rap or the bell on a number 42 bus

    Pah. Define "music".

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Uploading is still illegal in Canada

    We can download all we want in Canada, but uploading is still illegal. The only thing protecting most of us is that our ISP's don't want to release their customers information, so the CRIA or whomever can't go after us. So they're trying to get the courts to intervene, and got pretty close to their goal. They will some day, never underestimate the power of a lobby group.

  35. uncle sjohie

    The Netherlands

    They tried something similar here in the Netherlands, but as you can see from the article, the distribution of funds to the musicians is a joke, they're about 4 years behind, and they have no decent overview about what money goes where. (if I start a one man company, the accountancy laws are a hell of a lot more strict for some funny reason.)

    There is one nice thing about our laws, due to some "quirk" of the copyright law, I can legally download any music I like, only the sharing/uploading part is illegal. This doesn't fly for software though. I do believe there should be some compensation scheme like the blanket license they proposed in France, that way everybody wins to some extend, and that should be clear to the record company exec's by now you'd think.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    good decision, but necessary process

    We can (and do) lament the attempts the recording industry is making to ensure their failing business model.

    But its only through all this happening that two very necessary things can happen:-

    1) People getting to know just how corrupt and unfair the industry is.

    2) The industry itself finding another way to work, and realising it has to 'work' to get income, currently its like a protection racquet run by gangsters.

  37. michael

    pros and cons

    on the one side being taxed indcrimitly is wrong

    on the overt this is a better way of solving the copyiong debate then mass drm or sueing pepol

  38. Chewy

    again who decides

    The thought of subsidising X-Factor winners is my idea of hell, but equally somebody into pop music would hate the idea of their money going to the independent artists I buy from.

    In addition to this, independent musicians often bypass the RIAA/BPI etc so wouldn't receive royalties from them anyway. The independent label Fat Wreck Chords had to threaten the RIAA with legal action because the RIAA website mislead people into believing that it distributed monies to the label.

  39. TeeCee Gold badge


    You are wrong, there is money in the nose-flute!

    I representt the istate of the great Hungarian nose-flute rap artist Shova Flutupdaschnozz. In all humility and by the goodness of God from the sale of his music he has accumullated the sum of one and a quater million euros (1,250,000) and this amount is held in a Bank Account to be given to a nose-flute rap artist to continue the great work of such...................................

  40. Bill Fresher

    @David Wiernicki

    "And how, exactly, do you decide which artists get what out of the ensuing glob of money?"

    They set up a site where people can download music for free and distribute the money from blank media proportional to the number of times an artist's tracks have been downloaded.

  41. Colin Millar

    Surely the only point is

    Commercial undertakings should not be financed from state collected taxes - its called subsidies and its a bad idea - we used to do far too much of that in the UK for all sorts of reasons that seemed like a good idea at the time - we ended up with British Leyland and shipyards with no work. If the music industry cannot modernise let it die.

  42. Daniel

    @Bill Fresher

    that's not such a dumb idea.

    they might as well set up a megadownloads central, and just raise money via taxes to redistribute.

    except that, you know only about 7% of the money would ever find it's way back, and it would take about 2 millenia to do so ...


  43. J

    being taxed indcrimitly is wrong

    VERY wrong! Gee, word of the week...

    Re: Hungarian nose flute

    The air could come from way worse places, so don't complain too much now.

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