Proposed CD levy hits wrong note with IT professionals

While the Canadian music industry is singing its praises, the proposed levy on blank compact discs is giving some IT workers the blues.

“IT professionals use CDs regularly in their jobs. We depend on the use of blank CDs for integral day-to-day job activities such as the copying of important data for back-up purposes or for the distribution of detailed reports and product information to clients,” said Dr. Les Oliver, past president for the Toronto-based Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS).

CIPS – an organization representing more than 8,500 IT professionals nationwide – recently urged the Copyright Board of Canada to reconsider imposing a levy increase on blank digital recording media used for reasons other than recording music.

An increase might compensate the recording industry, but not owners of computer programs, Oliver said, adding that 93 per cent of CIPS members are opposed to the levy.

It’s unfair to raise the levy on predominately computer media by a greater percentage than that on similar audio media, Oliver said: “It’s almost the preferred media now, to the point where many laptops are being produced without a floppy drive and the only writeable-removeable media is a CD burner.”

The proposed tariffs discourage the recording industry from developing alternate schemes to address the underlying problem of music piracy, Oliver said, adding the levy, “will cause software developers to preferentially contract CD production with U.S.-based companies because the recorded CDs can be imported without levy.”

The Toronto-based Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), which represents the Canadian recording industry and receives levy revenues, said the increase is needed to “extend the levy to new media.”

Calls to CPCC were not immediately returned.

According to its Web site, the CPCC has set up a “zero-rating” program that will allow certain groups – 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.

But 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.

CIPS national board member John Boufford pointed to the CPCC’s own figures, which show that only 44 million of the 100 million blank CDs sold yearly are likely to be used in home-recording.

“CIPS is not in favour of levy sharing among the rights holders of currently excluded products as a means of combating software piracy, any more than we are in favour of paying a tax on media used for legitimate information technology purposes to subsidize another sector that cannot deal with its own copyright issues,” Boufford said.

Boufford noted the proposed 181 per cent increase raises the cost of blank CDs from the current 21 cents to 59 cents, which exceeds the cost of the product.

“It affects Canadian industry by sending work to the States and by making them less competitive. It also affects the smaller users by paying twice as much for a CD than it actually costs,” Boufford said.

Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) in Toronto is at

Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC) in Toronto is at