IT groups irked over media levy

Those in IT will be hit hard by a proposed hike in the price of recordable media, according to an IT industry group.

During this week’s Copyright Board of Canada hearings, the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) – a Toronto-based group representing the Canadian music industry – has proposed extending the levy to include MP3 players, DVD-RWs, removable flash-memory and portable hard drives.

These devices are manufactured primarily to copy music; some of these devices can hold thousands of songs, according to the CPCC. The group has put forth a proposal to raise the current $0.21 per blank CD to $0.59 – an increase of 181 per cent.

According to the CPCC Web site, the group has established a rating program that will allow certain groups that use blank media for “non-musical use” – including broadcasters, police, and IT professional users – to buy blank audio recording media levy-free from participating importers and manufacturers. Users would be required to complete an application with the CPCC.

The program does not apply to CD-Rs and CD-RWs, CPCC said. Instead it has asked the Copyright Board to create a “separate and substantially lower rate” for CD-Rs and CD-RWs intended for data storage use.

John Boufford, national board member for the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) in Toronto, said Friday the CPCC seems to believe that those who oppose the levy “want something for nothing.”

“We think it’s the other way around. If (IT professionals) aren’t using CDs to copy music, it’s the Collective that’s trying to get something for nothing,” Boufford said, adding that CIPS figures show that blank CDs used by IT workers account for half of total sales.

“If that’s the case, you’re talking about over $25 million dollars being collected on CDs that are being used for information technology purposes. This is a fairly big hit to those that make a lot of CDs to distribute their product.”

Boufford noted CIPS is working with the Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access (CCFDA) – a vendor-based group that includes Motorola Canada, Intel Canada and Hewlett-Packard Canada Ltd. – to remove the proposed levy as it relates to products used by IT professionals.