Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The $75 iPod Tax - the Big Lie!

You may have seen the recent Conservative Party attack ads on TV that state that the “Michael Ignatieff-led coalition” wants to introduce a “$75 iPod tax”. Where did this supposedly new tax on iPods come from, and why is it $75?

Well, like much of the Conservative Party advertising, this “iPod tax” is an immense stretch of the truth. On March 16 2010 the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage voted to include “devices with internal memory” in the definition of “recording medium” in the new copyright legislation, Bill C-32. The purpose of this revised definition was to ensure that devices with internal memory, such as the iPod, are considered as recording media, just as blank cassette tapes and CDs are considered recording media.

There is currently a tax on blank cassette tapes and CDs which is apparently intended to compensate recording artists for material that is copied onto the blank cassette tapes and CDs. With the definition of “recording media” broadened to include “devices with internal memory”, recording artists might also be partially compensated for performances that are copied onto a variety of devices, including MP3 players and iPods. So it is highly misleading, if not an outright lie, to refer to this as an "iPod tax" since it will, I assume, cover every device that can be used to record digital music, including your PC.

Why should we, as former CBC Radio 2 listeners, care about Bill C-32? And what does this have to do with CBC Radio 2, the subject of this blog?

Well, first of all, all those who care about classical music should be interested in ensuring that performers receive fair compensation for their recordings. While I am sure that the Rolling Stones are not going to be impoverished by the explosion of digital music sharing and downloading, the average performer of classical music could see their livelihood threatened. So we should all be in favour of Bill C-32, at least in this provision.

What has this to do with CBC Radio 2? Well, if we are ever to see CBC Radio 2 return to its past glory, I would like to think that there are musicians who can make a decent living by recording classical music.

Now, onto the Conservative Party attack ads. I think the following video captures the essence of the issue quite well. Have a look.

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