Heritage Minister Unimpressed with Levy Proposals

by Jordan Richardson on November 29, 2010

Heritage Minister James Moore says he’s not altogether opposed to discussing the notion of an MP3 player levy, but he’s yet to have seen a proposal that would prove ultimately “workable.”

Moore has faced intense lobbying from key members of the Canadian arts community over the past few weeks. The idea from the arts community is to impose a levy on MP3 players and other digital media devices, including hard drives, that would function in the same way that the current levy on blank CDs is applied. The levy is charged as compensation for copied material and delivered in the form of a royalty collective to the artists.

The proposed levy is coming out into the public discussion after changes to Bill C-32 are making their way through government. Earlier this month, ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists) said they had major concerns to be addressed prior to the passing of any updated Bill C-32. Because the revisions would officially legalize certain copying procedures, it makes sense to address the issue of compensation in this context.

For Moore, however, the issue of the levy isn’t dealt with in the updated Bill C-32. What’s more, the artists haven’t been comprehensive enough in their demands. “We started our consultation on copyright a year and half ago. They have yet to come forward with actual language for legislation and a proposal. They’ve never done that,” Mr. Moore told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

And here I thought it was up to the legislators (not artists or concerned citizens) to, y’know, legislate and compose “actual language.”

Last Thursday saw another round of pressure from Canadian artists, with the likes of Anne Murray and The Tragically Hip making their opinions known through a letter to Moore and Industry Minister Tony Clement.

“MP3 players are this generation’s version of blank media. A copy is a copy and the principle of fair compensation for rights holders should apply whether the copy is made onto blank media or MP3 players,” the letter said.

The letter was signed by a veritable who’s-who of Canadian artists and was coordinated by the Canadian Private Copying Collective.

The purpose of these sorts of letters is to pressure politicians, not write policy or compose comprehensive proposals. It isn’t up to the Tom Cochranes of the world to compose legislation to effectively compensate artists and create legal architecture to protect consumers, after all, yet this government seems adamant about pressing the pesky “noise makers” to construct policy. The levy seems off the table for the Tories, just like any legitimate modernization of copyright law and telecommunications reform.

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Written by: Jordan Richardson. www.digitcom.ca >. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com > by: RSS >, Twitter >, Identi.ca >, or Friendfeed >

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