OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 14, 2010) - Today, the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, and the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, issued the following statement from the Rideau Centre, a popular holiday shopping destination:
"We are here to confirm that the Harper Government will not bring in an iPod tax as part of its copyright legislation. The iPod Tax has been proposed and supported by all opposition parties.
"We simply cannot support the opposition's massive new iPod Tax on Canadian music lovers. The iPod Tax would add up to $75 to the price of every mp3 player and smart phone on the market. It would hurt the economy, punish consumers and families, and send the wrong message during this fragile economic recovery.
"Our government is committed to ensuring fairness and balance for consumers and creators as we update Canada's copyright laws. The opposition's iPod Tax is not fair to anyone. It would just make it more expensive for Canadians to listen to Canadian music and hurt our music industry.
"We would also like to emphasize that the Government has introduced the Copyright Modernization Act, Bill C-32, to modernize Canada's copyright legislation and bring it into the digital age. We drafted this Bill to best balance legalizing many of the everyday activities that Canadians are already engaging in online and ensuring that creators and rights holders have the protections they need to earn a living from their work in the digital age.
"Bill C-32 includes new rights and protections to enable creators to prosper in a digital environment and tough tools to help rights holders combat piracy. An iPod Tax would send the wrong message on piracy, drive up the price of the latest products for Canadian consumers, and tax a device that is much more than simply a music player.
"Canadians can rest assured that the Harper Government will stand with them against introducing this tax.
"Our government's top priority remains the economy. During this fragile economic recovery, the last thing Canadian families and consumers need is a massive new tax on iPods."
The iPod Tax
Introduced in 1997, the private copying regime imposed a levy on blank audio recording media. This levy, set by the Copyright Board of Canada, permits individuals to copy music for private use onto blank audio recording media, such as audio cassettes, CDs and MiniDiscs.
The proceeds of the levy are collected by the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), which then distributes them to its members. Since 2003, the CPCC has petitioned the Copyright Board to grant an extension of the levy to MP3 players.
In 2003, the Copyright Board agreed to this extension. However, in 2005, the Federal Court of Appeal overruled this decision, citing that such devices did not qualify as "audio recording medium" under the Copyright Act definition.
In 2007, the CPCC once again requested that the Copyright Board reintroduce the levy, specifically in terms of the storage capacity of digital audio recorders.
In January 2008, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Copyright Board's July 2007 decision, stating that "the Copyright Board has no legal authority to certify a tariff on digital audio recorders or on the memory permanently embedded in digital audio recorders."
In March 2010, Charlie Angus, the NDP's heritage critic, introduced a private member's bill to legally expand the copyright levy to digital recording devices as well as to devices not included in the Copyright Board's proposals, such as computers.
Shortly thereafter, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage considered and adopted a Bloc Québécois motion calling on the government to implement the iPod tax. Committee members from all three opposition parties supported the motion's adoption, while government committee members opposed it.
The Standing Committee reported the motion in the House, stating the following:
That the Committee recommends that the government amend Part VIII of the Copyright Act so that the definition of "audio recording medium" extends to devices with internal memory, so that the levy on copying music will apply to digital music recorders as well, thereby entitling music creators to some compensation for the copies made of their work.
On April 14, 2010, the House adopted the Standing Committee's recommendation, with all three opposition parties supporting the motion and the government alone in voting against it.
Cost to Consumers
Based on the previous proposals from the Copyright Board, the iPod tax would increase the cost of the typical iPod or MP3 player by between $25 and $75, depending on the device's storage capacity. The rates proposed by the Board were as follows:
Modernizing the Copyright Act
Bill C-32, An Act to amend the Copyright Act (Copyright Modernization Act), was introduced by the government in the House of Commons on June 2, 2010, and is currently being considered by the Legislative Committee on Bill C-32. This bill does not propose an extension of the private copying regime. Furthermore, the government does not support an extension of the levy, as it would force consumers to pay a higher price for their devices and would send the wrong message on piracy by placing a price on it.
Bill C-32 does, however, propose strong new rights for creators to control their works and will strengthen the law against those who enable piracy. The bill also sends a strong message to Canadians that piracy is illegal and unacceptable and carries a real cost to those criminals who break the law.
Bill C-32 offers a balanced approach to copyright modernization. This bill will not force consumers to pay more for their devices, and it will not undermine creators' rights to earn a living from their work.