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Canadians lobby for iPod copyright tax - again

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Canada's Private Copyright Collective (CPCC) is once again trying to find a way to force would-be iPod buyers to pay a copyright tax despite being told in 2004 such a levy is illegal.

The CPCC said last week it wants CAD5 levied on players with up to 1GB of memory, CAD25 for up to 10GB of music storage, CAD50 for capacities of between 10GB and 30GB, and CAD75 for anything that holds more than 30GB of storage. Interestingly, it doesn't appear to be suggesting PCs and Macs be likewise levied, given how much hard drive storage capacity they contain. USB keys seem off the list too. But maybe we shouldn't put ideas into their heads...

Canada's Copyright Act allows the nation's Copyright Board to levy a tax on blank media in order to compensate artists for revenue lost to "private copying". In December 2003, the tax was imposed on digital music players because it was argued they contain recording media, specifically Flash memory and hard drives.

The move was subsequently challenged by retailers, who won the case when it went before the Federal Court of Appeal. In December 2004, Mr Justice Marc Noël ruled the law did not explicitly include digital music players' memory and hard drives among its list of recording media.

The CPCC, which distributes to artists and publishers cash collected by the Copyright Board, last week submitted a new plea for an iPod tax to the Board. The current tariff expires on 31 December 2007, so it's looking to get MP3 players added to the list from 2008 onwards.

This time round, the CPCC's pitch is that such devices are audio recording media in their own right, and as such are indeed covered by the Copyright Act. In turn, that means they can be subjected to the levy, the organisation said. It also wants to include memory cards - a request the Copyright Board has rejected in the past - with a fee of CAD2-10 added to the retail price of SD, MMC, Memory Stick and other formats.

The Copyright Board will now consider the CPCC submission - and, indeed, those from other stakeholders - before announcing the 2008-2009 tariff later this year.

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