April 3, 2011
Bull Meter score:
The basis for the Conservative party’s claim is that Liberal members of the House Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage voted in March of last year to extend a levy Canadians already pay on blank audiocassettes and blank CDs to MP3 players. The committee was voting on proposed amendments to the Copyright Act [not the government’s copyright legislation, as stated in an earlier version of this post]. The purpose of the digital media levy was to ensure that Canadian artists receive compensation when people use MP3s to copy their songs and music.
Pressed for details, a Conservative spokesperson told us via email that “[according to] previous proposals from the Copyright Board, the iPod tax would increase the cost of the typical iPod or MP3 player by between $25 to $75 depending on how much storage space the device contains.” The reference is to the Copyright Board of Canada, which is in charge of fixing the amounts for such levies.
The claim a $75 levy was ever on the table—and that it was supported by the Liberals—is dubious for two reasons: first, contrary to Conservative claims, the Copyright Board never suggested the levy should be up to $75. That amount was proposed by a non-profit called the Canadian Private Copying Collective, which collects and distributes private copying royalties. But while they may not be the ones who collect it, it’s the Copyright Board that fixes levies on MP3 players, such as the ones that were in place until a December 2004 Federal Court decision struck them down. These ranged from $2 to $25.
Secondly, the Liberals changed their policy on taxing digital audio devices in December and have explicitly rejected the notion of an “iPod levy.” They now support compensating artists with a yearly transfer of $35 million.
Heard something that doesn’t sound quite right? Send quotes from the campaign trail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll tell you just how much bull they contain.