‘Dark day’ for musicians as proposed microSD levy blocked

A decision by the Minister of Industry to exempt microSD memory cards from copyright levies is a major blow to musicians, says the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC).

Industry Canada issued a notice July 3 that new regulations will be put in place creating the exemption. The cards are widely used as external storage in smartphones and raising the cost of those devices would delay adoption, the notice states. It goes on to describe such a fee as “not only unwarranted but unfair to Canadian consumers.”

The move kills an effort by the CPCC to place a new levy on microSD cards that would be used to compensate musicians for copies of their work being stored on the media. The organization, which collects levies on the sales of blank CDs, had a scheduled hearing before the Copyright Board in October to raise the issue. With CDs being used less to record music, the CPCC is looking to update its revenue source. It had previously asked for a levy on iPods, but the Federal Court of Appeal denied that ability in 2008.

“It’s an extremely dark day for those who create music in this country,” says David Basskin, a director at the CPCC and the president of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Association. “What you have here is interference with the judicial process.”

Under the private copying regime, the Governor-in-Council may exclude any type of recording medium from a levy, he acknowledges. But Basskin is disappointed he won’t get his day in court.

CPCC suggested a levy of $0.50 for cards with 1 GB of memory or less, $1 for cards with between 1 GB to 8 GB of memory, and $3 for cards with 8 GB of memory or more. The current levy on CD-Rs is $0.29 per disc. Levies were previously collected on MiniDiscs and microcassette tapes, but have been abandoned after the technologies fell out of use.

“The suggestion this is an oppressive attack on consumers is absurd,” he says. “People will go on copying music, but the only difference is musicians won’t be compensated.”

With microSD cards no longer an option to pursue for new revenue, Basskin says he’s not sure where the CPCC will turn next.

“People don’t get to vote on regulations,” he says. “We’ll study it when it is released.”

The regulations are slated to be issued this fall.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Editor at ITBusiness.ca. E-mail him at bjackson@itbusiness.ca, follow him on Twitter, connect on , read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.
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