The levy letters

Last month, featured an article by Paolo Del Nibletto about a multimedia tax increase that could almost triple the levy on blank CDs and increase the price of MP3 players like Apple’s

iPod by more than $100. Judging by the amount of reader response, this proved to be one of the most contentious issues we covered all year.


My employer, the Waterloo Region District School Board, buys hundreds and sometimes thousands, of blank CDs each year. These CDs are used for backups and the distribution of licensed software. They are not used for music downloads.

It is unreasonable to apply a hidden levee which diverts tax dollars from schools to the recording industry. Since the CPCC has conceded that the composers and performers who should be benefiting from the current levee aren’t, I believe the levee should be dropped completely and we all admit that it was nothing more than a cash grab for the recording industry. The CPCC is not accountable to anyone about how the levee dollars are distributed. The levee looks a lot like taxation without representation.

There are other reasons I believe that the levee on CDs should be abandoned. Music can be recorded directly to any general purpose media. It is not reasonable to apply the levee on CDs but not memory sticks when both can be used in cameras and MP3 players. Nor is it reasonable to apply a levee on disk drives within computers. The levee does not solve the problem of people making illegal recordings.

Both the current and proposed levies assume that everyone is guilty of an offense, yet there is no mechanism for a trial to prove innocence. Do we wish for Canada to be ruled by laws that assume a person is guilty until proven innocent? I don’t.

Tom McLachlin
Supervisor of systems development and support
Information Technology Services
Waterloo Region District School Board


I want to thank for this article. Our company is also one which has been soliciting all the political parties to stop this proposal. The points expressed by the Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access and the Retail Council of Canada were right on. They failed to point out, however, that some of these CPCC members including Sony and RCA, who are manufacturing the MP3 and CD burner devices, have music/entertainment divisions and are backing the CPCC proposal — they seem to want their cake and eat it too. If these companies simply made better music at better prices perhaps they would not have a market for such innovations!

Our company, which has investments in both the music and computer industries, actively has plans to leave Canada altogether if this proposal gets passed. If we do or not is up to the big brass at HQ but it has been proposed. The company is willing to obtain the resources on the black market if needed. Taxes are simply too high. Call it a levy, call it a tax, it’s all the same at the cash register.

Derek McDonald
Emperor Multimedia


As a downloader of music I am glad Paolo has brought this issue to light. But as a former journalist, I can’t help but feel it was awfully one-sided. If everyone opposes this levy, why does it exist? Surely you could have interviewed the opposition.

Kevin Powers


Just add it to the list of cross boarder smuggling products. Will that be cigarettes, CDs or MP3 players? If you have a list of names of protest please add mine to it.

Jim Honey


This is outrageous. I run a small business and I use a lot of blank CDs for data distribution and archives. This involves a lot of memory-hungry video and still photographic images. None of this is copyright music. Why should I have to pay this levy? If this levy goes through, perhaps we should start a class action against the CPCC. I, for one, will be sourcing my memory storage supplies outside of Canada.

Barry Neil
Chief financial officer
N4 Research Associates Inc.


I think its well worth mentioning in bolder print that thousands of small bands across Canada produce their own music through independent labels and then burn their CDs from blanks they purchase retail. These blank CDs have a levy on them which shouldn’t apply to these users in the first place. Assuming they didn’t have to pay this levy, their music production costs would be lower and their profits higher, quite counter to the arguments for a levy.

Michael T. Babcock
Chief technology officer
FibreSpeed Ltd.


I read your article with great interest as I am intimately acquainted with the CD-R levy. I would like to add an aspect that your story failed to report on that should be of great concern to your IT readers.

Your story concentrates on how the levy affects music and retailers. What it doesn’t focus on is the cost to legitimate data users in the IT sector who are paying into the CPCC. Currently, there is no distinction between music and those who are using CD-Rs for custom software distribution, data archiving and prototyping. The IT community is paying into this music-based initiative. Consider the following examples:

1) aerial survey and resource companies who store and ship huge amounts of GIS and infrared data on CD-R’s

2) software companies with limited production runs where CD-R’s are burned instead of CD-ROMs pressed

3) data archiving for graphics agencies, media organizations, museums or any other organization

These are just a few examples of our customers who are paying the current levy because the CPCC and the Copyright Board have assumed that any one who is purchasing a CD-R must be using it for illegitimate music.

Thomas Gauntley
Account manager
The One-Off CD Shop

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