Canadian Blank CD Levy To Increase By Another 38%

This post originally appeared on Techdirt.

The Copyright Board of Canada has decided to increase the levy on blank CDs from 21 cents to 29 cents each. The levy is a sort of “you’re a criminal tax” that assumes blank CDs are going to be used for unauthorized copying. Blank CDs in Canada are now often more expensive than blank DVDs (which have no levy and hold more data), and most of that cost goes directly to the record industry. In 2006, about 70% went to the labels, but it seems like even more now, with actual price of CD-Rs dropping. With a 21 cent levy, a pack of 50 CD-Rs sells for about $12 before tax. That’s 24 cents per CD-R — 87.5% of the price goes to the record industry. And that’s before the 8 cent increase.

The board notes that sales of blank CDs are declining, but justifies the increase by arguing that compression allows people to store more songs on a CD. Meanwhile, there’s no levy on digital audio players (the Canadian record industry was worried it would legalize downloading and seemed to prefer to push for tougher copyright legislation instead). What’s going to happen when the Copyright Board realizes that blank CD sales are likely declining, not because everyone is using compression, but because less people are using CDs? This “you’re a criminal tax” has always been a short-term band-aid solution that’s not going to fix the record industry’s problem. Do Canadians really need to pay the record industry $30 million a year for the right to burn a few songs onto a CD every now and then? Luckily, the current government has expressed a desire to cancel the levy, though we’ll have to wait and see if they can follow through.

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