Posted by: Rob | September 10, 2009

A Non Song Lyric Thursday

I started doing Song Lyric Thursday’s a while ago, after borrowing the idea, I think, from fellow blogger Uncle Keith.  It was a regular feature for a bit but gradually fell by the wayside.  Kind of like most of the posting on this blog.

But, I digress.

Recent news out of the Canadian government has again given me pause.  I’m sure that, unless you’ve been hibernating in a cave in Afghanistan, you’re well aware of the brouhaha surrounding digital music sharing, rampant copyright violations, peer to peer, bit-torrent, the decline in profits for member companies of such ethical bastions as the RIAA and the MPAA, and the rather frivolous and contentious lawsuits being wrangled in civil courts across the United States.

Back in the late ’90’s, the Canadian equivalent of the RIAA somehow got the ear of a prominent member of the then Liberal government.  I’m speaking of none other than former Liberal MP and Cabinet Minister “Tequila” Sheila Copps.  Ms Copps was quite the rabble rouser and rat packer in her day.  Despite the fact that she may have had little understanding of digital copyright issues, she managed to get a private copying levy brought into being in Canada.

This levy, or tax, applied to every unit of blank recording media sold in Canada.  The proceeds of this levy were collected and re-distributed to the artists, purportedly, whose livelihoods were being negatively impacted by those busying themselves making mix tapes and mix CD’s.  I remember personally grumbling about the tax but I was not really a big consumer of blank media and so, ultimately, it made little difference to me.

There were some odd disconnects with the levy, though:

  • Imagine a struggling musical artist.  He lives in his car.  He writes his own songs and plays them on street corners, busking for change from passersby.  He puts enough money together to buy some blank CD-R’s so he can record his own music and, hopefully, sell the CD’s for a little extra to help buy food and fuel.  Now, imagine that he has just paid a levy that will be re-distributed to other “struggling” artists.  Like Celine Dion.  Does that make sense?
  • Imagine a small business person, an entrepreneur.  His business generates a lot of data in digital format.  Documents, spreadsheets, all sorts of files.  He needs to be able to distribute his work and uses CD’s to do so.  He buys some blank CD-R’s in order to make copies of his data files, or even to just back up his own data.  Now, imagine that he has just paid a levy that will be given to the top selling Canadian recording artists.  Does that make sense?
  • Imagine a photographer who provides her clients with digital photos.  These photo files are copied onto blank CD-R’s and provided to her clients in this format.  She regularly purchases cases of blank CD-R’s for her business.  And every time, she pays a levy that will be re-distributed to Canadian music recording artists.  Does that make sense?

No, none of it makes sense.

And so, when I saw a recent item that reported a renewed attempt to introduce a fee or levy on mp3 players, mostly in the face of declining CD-R sales (and a corresponding decrease in the amount of levy collected), in order to keep this scam going, I heaved a great sigh.  Technology changes but the attitudes of the entitled don’t.  Despite repeated court rulings against a levy on mp3 players.

What’s next?  Will they want a levy on smartphones, like the iPhone?  I mean, these phones have mp3 players built into them.  Even if the phone’s owner or user doesn’t use it, it’s still there.

My response to this sort of thing is to simply give up and walk away.  I already have an iPod (which I didn’t pay a levy on).  I look at the wall of audio CD’s and wonder why someone thinks I should pay an additional levy to be able to listen to CD’s, for which I have paid, on a device that holds the content of all those CD’s and is conveniently portable.

I don’t really listen to much new music anymore.  I don’t really listen to much music in general anymore.  I think these cretins have pretty much convinced me that I don’t want to buy another music CD ever again.

And, in further protest, I will no longer do Song Lyric Thursdays.


  1. They won’t be happy till they charge you a fee for every time you listen to a song.

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