Video Rewind: iPod levy – a needed support for artists or an unfair tax?

Politicians are expected to debate the merits of a levy added on to iPods and other digital audio devices at upcoming comittee meetings taking a look at Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act.

Such a levy would be an extension of a system that already exists – Canadians pay 29 cents for every blank CD they buy to the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC). But with CDs quickly becoming antiquated in favour of flash storage amongst music listeners, some artists say it makes sense to update the levy and have it placed on mp3 players instead.

Proponents of the levy say Canadian musicians need it as a reliable source of income. Funds are distributed to artists based on air time of a song on radio and sales figures. Without this incentive many artists will not be able to sustain themselves, the CPCC says. Musicians should be compensated for the value of legal copies made of their works.

But critics argue against such a levy for several reasons. The point has been raised that not every digital audio device is used to listen to music – some may be for listening to educaitonal materials or lectures, for instance. Also, many people feel that if they have bought a song once then they have the right to copy it to any device they choose without paying again. Why not build the perceived cost of copying into the purchase price of a song, instead of a device that might be used to listen to it?

As the Bill stands now, the levy is not a part of it. The Conservatives are starkly oppossed to it, but the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois are supportive of the levy. The Liberals may seek a compromise on the issue in committee.

ITBusiness.ca hosted a debate over the mertis of a levy with David Basskin, a director at the CPCC, copyright lawyer David Allsebrook, and student leader Justin Williams back in September 2009. Take stock of the video below and have your say about the issue in our comments section at the bottom of the page.

More

Watch part 2: iPod tax debate – Who should tell Canadians about the levy?

Watch part 3: iPod tax would ‘include exemptions’ for disabled, business groups

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