Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's My Take From An iPod Tax? Please…

iphone-movies_1

Canadian Artists who've been paying attention know that there's been an ongoing discussion in Canada over the last two years as our Federal government tries to get its act together and haul our copyright laws into the 21st Century.

No matter where you stand on the issues, I think you can agree that the process is not going all that well.

Copyright is hard for most people (even working writers) to understand and just when anybody thinks they've got a firm handle on it, some new technology or a guy with a lot of money invested in a cartoon mouse comes along and completely warps the rules.

Vested interests like record companies and film studios want to apply all kinds of digital locks and other technologies to prevent people who've legally purchased a CD or DVD (or downloaded a digital file) from being able to copy it to another device or media platform (like a hard drive or an iPod) so their product isn't "shared" to the point where they don't make a profit for producing it.

Consumers want to buy something once and watch or listen to it however and whenever they damn well please. Because -- well -- they paid for it and how many times are they supposed to pay for the same song or movie...

Most artists are usually just over the moon that somebody paid for something they created even once. But every now and then you get somebody like Garth Brooks, who used to (and maybe still does) sue 2nd hand record stores that dared to sell any of his catalogue because it meant he wasn't getting the royalties from their customers buying a new CD.

Meanwhile, schools and libraries and people who want to mash-up and repurpose need special dispensations or they can't continue to do what they do.

And us creative types just want to get paid for what we do, so we can afford to keep doing it.

To some people, copyright means outright ownership and for others it signifies participation in the ongoing exploitation of an artistic creation.

Basically, everybody wants a slice of the pie. The point of Copyright legislation is to make sure what they each get served renders them happy enough to keep making or buying more pie.

A couple of decades ago, one of the Canadian solutions to some of these issues was to levy a fee on all blank media that could be used to copy music. So if you bought blank tape, writable CDs or DVDs you paid a few cents into a fund that was distributed to the people who created music.

This wasn't fair to the people who were buying disks to back up their accounting files or send grandma digital pictures of the kids, but it was the best system anybody could come up with at the time and a few cents per disk wasn't breaking anybody's budget.

It also didn't take into account that the technology would evolve so people could copy movies or TV shows. But when is that kind of governmental limit of vision ever a surprise…

According to stats collected, that system has so far delivered $184 Million to music rights holders in Canada. And that would seem to be great news for Canadian musicians and something the rest of us should try to get in on.

So extending this type of levy to digital devices like iPods, Smartphones, even flash and hard drives (the places to which a great deal of both purchased and shared material ends up) became one of the suggestions in the copyright proposals of many artist guilds and unions.

And here's where a subject that's always a little confusing got more confusing to a lot of people -- including -- and maybe especially -- me.

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The opposition parties in the Commons Committee studying Copyright law got behind the levy idea. The Federal government opposed it and began referring to it as the "iPod Tax" because they felt it would have a negative impact on a number of levels.

It would make smartphones, hard drives and iPods more expensive and even add an additional charge to the music system in your car. Most Flash drives, for example, would more than double in price.

It would penalize corporate purchasers and individuals who had no intention of using their phone or computer for consuming entertainment media.

And it would piss off consumers who had already paid for their movies and music and now were being told they had to pay even more for the gadgets they needed to access it.

But those concerns were outvoted in Committee because the Opposition parties felt that despite its faults, a levy system would assist individual artists and entrepreneurs.

And although nobody had put any specific numbers in place for what such a Levy/Tax would cost consumers, the ones bandied about during Committee debate had been on a sliding scale based on the storage capacity of the devices. A scale that put the cost of the most common iPod/Smartphone capacity of 30Gb at $75.

Now everybody keep in mind that there's no legislation for these numbers or even a final Levy/Tax proposal for anybody to vote on. It was just an idea people were kicking around.

Until Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Heritage Minister James Moore and Industry Minister Tony Clement held a Press Conference to announce that the pending Copyright legislation would not include an "iPod Tax". Like every touring musician trying to buy gas for the band's bus they even had T-shirts available.

ipod tax

A line was drawn in the sand and the issue has suddenly gone from being about Copyright to being about convincing consumers the government is trying to save them money.

And maybe they are.

And maybe that's at my expense and I should be really pissed off.

Except I don't know for sure.

As a guy who works both sides of the street, buying movies and making them, I've tried really hard to weigh how new Copyright protections might benefit me as well as cost me money. And I honestly still don't know where I stand.

From the beginning of this discussion, I've been asking fellow artists and my Guilds for some idea of what individual artists have earned from similar levies and how the additional costs affected consumer habits and nobody seems able to enlighten me.

As I said, that $184 Million the music industry has earned sounds fabulous. But nobody appears able to tell me how much individual artists have earned.

I know a ton of musicians who all claim they've never seen a penny of that money. Maybe the cash only goes to the songwriter or that nebulous "rights holder" -- and does that mean a series creator might see some cash but the guys sweating it out in the writers' room won't?

I also can't seem to find any figures that say Bryan Adams got this much and David Foster pocketed that much and even former Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Johnnie Bower took home a few bucks for "Honky The Christmas Goose". Those numbers just don't appear to be out there.

Or maybe Google just doesn't want me to know.

So I can't estimate what a levy on digital media devices might earn me for a specific piece of work. And therefore, I don't know if it's worth fighting for or not.

If I write the next "Trailer Park Boys" movie and it does as well as the last two, what's my take home from this new revenue stream?

Hard as I tried yesterday, nobody was able to tell me. So I did some math on my own -- always a dangerous activity.

My personal iPod touch has 64 Gb of memory. If I bought it under the suggested Levy I'd be paying $75 into this new Copyright fund for the opportunity to fill it up with Cancon.

And let's say that as a loyal citizen I only download Canadian TV shows. According to the specs, I can fit 80 hours of video on it. For the sake of argument (and because I can be really bad at math) let's say a couple of those shows are in HD, so I only cram 75 hours on it.

That means my levy for each hour is $1. Now, if you had a dollar for every smartphone and hard drive in the country, you'd be a pretty rich guy.

But I don't get all of that dollar.

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Since the producers of those series own the copyright of the show and the show is what people are buying, they're going to get something too. Maybe even most of it, since any levy will have to cover every artist who contributes to the show -- the director, the actors, the composer, etc.

Traditionally, screenwriters account for about 4% of a TV show budget, so let's assume I end up with that much. Well, 4 cents from every smartphone and iPod in the country isn't a bad deal either.

If that's my end, I'm packing in the laptop and picking up Yacht brochures in the morning.

Except I'd only get that much if there were only 75 hours of television available. But there's already a lot more than that with more coming all the time.

And since I can dump all 75 of those original hours and download another 75 and another 75 after that, my 4 cents is rapidly declining to maybe .0004 cents per digital device.

And I haven't even begun to calculate what has to be set aside to pay for movies people download. And music. And books (both text and audio) since The Writers Union is looking for a share for their members.

And I'm betting those damn game writers are looking to take home more than as much Red Bull as they can drink.

And if there's a levy and most Canadians (as they do now) download American movies and TV -- can't US Studios and artists make an argument for their share -- and since we don't have a levy on American films at the box office or American series on CTV or Rogers or Global/Shaw/Whatever -- wouldn't they have a pretty good case for a chunk of that change?

So how much do I end up with for my screenwriter's copyright in "Trailer Park Boys III: Origins" or "The Listener"?

The Heritage Minister insists nobody's given him a formula and all the Artist Guilds have spat back, "Oh, yes we have you gun-lovin' artist-hating sonsa…" and apparently there are tons of government minions who've been in all the meetings who have all the paperwork.

So why can't anybody show it to me?

I'm the guy most affected by all this. Okay, me and the kid who wants to watch "Todd and the Book of Pure Evil" in Chemistry class. But he already knows he might be on the hook for 75 big ones.

How much of that am I going to see?

Or would I be smarter just negotiating a little more up front?

UPDATE:

Some great comments coming in on this post. Thought I'd post my response to one of them up front for those who don't want to sift through the reactions and maybe to prevent you from going off on similar tangents…

"Well, first of all, the Google line was a joke. I've been trying to get hard numbers from several sources, for months.

Everybody seems to have the bulk totals but nothing that identifies what it means to individual artists. For all I know that's a privacy issue. But even something in the ballpark would have helped.

So while I'm happy the delightful Sophie makes good money from the levy -- how much? And for how large a body of work?

Nobody's expecting to retire on these payments. But I'm starting to feel like writers would do better standing on the sidewalk with a cup of half used HB pencils.

I'm still looking for some information on which to base a decision and assert my rights.

Not sure how asking that question after two years of cross country input is wildly shooting from the hip -- does somebody asking questions somebody else wishes they wouldn't maybe just sound as menacing as gunfire?

And maybe it's all a pointless debate -- given as Deb Nathan says, we've already been paid an advance against future earnings does that mean producers who own the show copyright will get paid and then they'll do the calculations -- because you know where we end up on that tally sheet.

All I'm asking for is what the formula we're proposing might mean to me. If the Government has been given one as all the Guilds claim it has -- why can't I see it?

Yeah, yesterday's Press conference was complete party politics Bullshit. But if you'd done your own research you'd know all the figures and pejorative terms Big Jim and Little Tony used came from the very committee meetings our own reps attended.

I believe in the ongoing worth of a writer's work as much as you do and I think we both know the net is where ALL of our future earnings will be coming from.

But if I don't have hard facts to combat the oafs running Heritage and Industry and the lawyers for CRIA and the rest of corporate America, then I got no bullets in my gun.

Show me the money. I am your Union brother, am I not?"

23 comments:

deborah Nathan said...

Let's not forget that any monies are deducted from the production fee, which is an ADVANCE against any royalties - in the known and unknown universe for time immemorial. Always makes me laugh.

DMc said...

Jim,

There are some times when your propensity to shoot first and ask questions later is really damaging.
First, if you want to find an artist who benefits from levies, I direct you to Sophie Millman. Sophie is a delightful jazz artist who’s not a household name by any means, but makes her money through her performing and recordings, and also jingle singing and licensing. She got up at the Toronto Copyright forum and spoke quite eloquently about the impact that levy money makes in her life. It’s not enough to live on, no…but it’s enough to give her, along with the money she cobbles together from other areas – the space to pursue her art. More importantly, it recognizes the idea that copies of her work have their own intrinsic value.
When you talk about getting higher upfront fees, you are missing the point. Levies are, and will never be, a replacement for the primary method of recompensation for artists. But they are part of the system that values distributed copies of the work. The true value of a recording or a film or a tv show is not paid by the consumer in any case – you are not compensated truly for the years you spent learning to write. The actor – who arguably comes closest – had years of soul crushing auditions to go through to get that part. But in an age when digital distribution is norm, and rerun payments (resids or royalties) are going away, use payments through collection societies and levies are one method by which artists seek a price for their efforts.
Philosophically this is in line with the last WGA strike. If you’re one of those who believes that the Internet rights were not worth fighting for, then fine. But the pennies per play – though not replacing resids – is still the point. If the right was established to just play on the net without compensation, then those rights would be lost forever.
This is the game that the Conservatives are playing with C32. They take care of the big media corporations through digital locks. And they “gift” all sorts of uses for consumers, but nothing for artists. Who’s to say that new educational use payments could not be worked out – but the bill cuts all that out summarily, preventing any development of new markets down the road.
Back to Millman…the other side of that is our Canadian Screenwriters Collection Society. Now Jim you might say that it’s penny payments. But I know it’s distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to writers for broadcast in European countries. I know that the Stargate writers have received tens of thousands of dollars. That’s really no different than the scale of use we have now with primary payments. There are writers making big money, and there are writers with one animation contract making 7K a year.
To ask for figures before any formula, or the right to assay the levy, is not an argument against it, Jim. The WGC has studied, engaged studies, and come up with the proposal. Is it worked out completely? No. It’s theoretical – and anyway, in order for film and TV writers to reap levy money the Copyright Bill would have had to tackle authorship – another thing they punted.
But given the example of SOCAN, and the levy society for artists, as well as thriving European collection societies, you instead spent one morning Googling and couldn’t find anything and so you come out guns blazing.
This propensity of yours does not help your fellow writers, Jim. The “iPod tax” stunt pulls a number out of the air – nobody knows where Moore got his $75 – and you pile on with the distortions.
When I was teaching, and my students turned in a paper where the “research” consisted of one morning on the Google, there was a standard response.
An “F.”
That’s what you get for this post, Jim.
In network parlance, I’m afraid this is a big fat “DB.”

DMc said...

Jim,

There are some times when your propensity to shoot first and ask questions later is really damaging.
First, if you want to find an artist who benefits from levies, I direct you to Sophie Millman. Sophie is a delightful jazz artist who’s not a household name by any means, but makes her money through her performing and recordings, and also jingle singing and licensing. She got up at the Toronto Copyright forum and spoke quite eloquently about the impact that levy money makes in her life. It’s not enough to live on, no…but it’s enough to give her, along with the money she cobbles together from other areas – the space to pursue her art. More importantly, it recognizes the idea that copies of her work have their own intrinsic value.
When you talk about getting higher upfront fees, you are missing the point. Levies are, and will never be, a replacement for the primary method of recompensation for artists. But they are part of the system that values distributed copies of the work. The true value of a recording or a film or a tv show is not paid by the consumer in any case – you are not compensated truly for the years you spent learning to write. The actor – who arguably comes closest – had years of soul crushing auditions to go through to get that part. But in an age when digital distribution is norm, and rerun payments (resids or royalties) are going away, use payments through collection societies and levies are one method by which artists seek a price for their efforts.
Philosophically this is in line with the last WGA strike. If you’re one of those who believes that the Internet rights were not worth fighting for, then fine. But the pennies per play – though not replacing resids – is still the point. If the right was established to just play on the net without compensation, then those rights would be lost forever.
This is the game that the Conservatives are playing with C32. They take care of the big media corporations through digital locks. And they “gift” all sorts of uses for consumers, but nothing for artists. Who’s to say that new educational use payments could not be worked out – but the bill cuts all that out summarily, preventing any development of new markets down the road.

DMc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DMc said...

This is the game that the Conservatives are playing with C32. They take care of the big media corporations through digital locks. And they “gift” all sorts of uses for consumers, but nothing for artists. Who’s to say that new educational use payments could not be worked out – but the bill cuts all that out summarily, preventing any development of new markets down the road.
Back to Millman…the other side of that is our Canadian Screenwriters Collection Society. Now Jim you might say that it’s penny payments. But I know it’s distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to writers for broadcast in European countries. I know that the Stargate writers have received tens of thousands of dollars. That’s really no different than the scale of use we have now with primary payments. There are writers making big money, and there are writers with one animation contract making 7K a year.
To ask for figures before any formula, or the right to assay the levy, is not an argument against it, Jim. The WGC has studied, engaged studies, and come up with the proposal. Is it worked out completely? No. It’s theoretical – and anyway, in order for film and TV writers to reap levy money the Copyright Bill would have had to tackle authorship – another thing they punted.
But given the example of SOCAN, and the levy society for artists, as well as thriving European collection societies, you instead spent one morning Googling and couldn’t find anything and so you come out guns blazing.
This propensity of yours does not help your fellow writers, Jim. The “iPod tax” stunt pulls a number out of the air – nobody knows where Moore got his $75 – and you pile on with the distortions.
When I was teaching, and my students turned in a paper where the “research” consisted of one morning on the Google, there was a standard response.
An “F.”
That’s what you get for this post, Jim.
In network parlance, I’m afraid this is a big fat “DB.”

DMc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DMc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

I feel quite strongly about this. As a filmmaker, I am concerned with collecting royalties so I can continue my craft.

But as a user of blank disks and flash memory (and almost exclusively for media I own copyright for), and as a person who respects the idea of the presumption of innocence, I most emphatically reject this levy. I have paid many hundreds of dollars to the CPCC via this levy for media I have NOT pirated.

My case:

Exhibit A: The CPCC levy is presumption of guilt. I am convicted and fined for copyright violation without a trial or any kind of due process.

Exhibit B: If I pay the levy on CDs and iPods, why should I pay for DVDs, CDs or downloads on iTunes? I've already paid for the media via the levy. This results in LESS money going to copyright holders via honest channels, since people feel justified in piracy.

There are other ways of solving this problem. iTunes-style micro-billing, copy protection, free media with sponsorship, and other recoupment schemes are workable alternatives to taking money from innocent people who have not received any product or service in return.

jimhenshaw said...

DMc,

Well, first of all, the Google line was a joke. I've been trying to get hard numbers from several sources, including you as my Guild rep, for months.

Everybody seems to have the bulk totals but nothing that identifies what it means to individual artists. For all I know that's a privacy issue. But even something in the ballpark would have helped.

So while I'm happy the delightful Sophie makes good money from the levy -- how much? And for how large a body of work?

Nobody's expecting to retire on these payments. But I'm starting to feel like writers would do better standing on the sidewalk with a cup of half used HB pencils.

So I'm still looking for some information on which to base a decision and assert my rights.

Not sure how asking that question after two years of cross country input is wildly shooting from the hip -- does somebody asking questions somebody else wishes they wouldn't maybe just sound as menacing as gunfire?

And maybe it's all a pointless debate -- given as Deb Nathan says, we've already been paid an advance against future earnings does that mean producers who own the show copyright will get paid and then they'll do the calculations -- because you know where we end up on that tally sheet.

All I'm asking for is what the formula we're proposing might mean to me. If the Government has been given one as all the Guilds claim it has -- why can't I see it?

Yeah, yesterday's Press conference was complete party politics Bullshit. But if you'd done your own research you'd know all the figures and perjorative terms Big Jim and Little Tony used came from the very committee meetings our own reps attended.

I believe in the ongoing worth of a writer's work as much as you do and I think we both know the net is where ALL of our future earnings will be coming from.

But if I don't have hard facts to combat the oafs running Heritage and Industry and the lawyers for CRIA and the rest of corporate America, then I got no bullets in my gun.

Show me the money, DMc. I am your Union brother, am I not?

Joel Scott said...

As a songwriter /producer working in the music industry, I find your comments show a great deal of insight into the free music downloading (I call it freeloading) dilemma.

I too, am interested how the cash is split up. The 184 million (Approx 20 million a year for the last decade) is new technology money that is awarded in a very OLD method.

This cash is turned over to the performing rights society (SOCAN) Their board is comprised of the major labels' publishers, independent labels' publishers and well established artists.

To make a short story long, they then go about their business by pro rating that money primarily based upon canadian Radio airplay logs and TV broadcast reports.

Essentially awarding that money to themselves!

This is the problem, only a few hundred artists garner enough radio/video play in this country to register on the SOCAN reports and therefore make a living from them.

This is due to the Majors historical agreement with -- and domination of -- Radio and TV play lists.

New media plays are only estimated and there in that statement lies the blank media tax problem.

If you are a local phenom, receive great community and college radio plays, are a viral hit on the internet but fail to register on the national commercial radio and TV scene -- your royalties are minuscule, therefore your share of the blank technology tax is --virtually zero.

I know of an artist who receives no royalties from SOCAN, even tho he received over 400 thousand plays on various Internet sitesand Internet radio stations.

So, same old same old, the top played artists on Canadian radio/tv garner 88% of all the cash emanating from the New/old media blank tax.

Sitting at the national level board of SAC (Songwriters Association of Canada) through the early 90's, when this tax was proposed, I argued that it was a regressive tax. No room for innovation. And it basically ignored 40,000 of the then 42,000 registered songwriters/composers in SOCAN.

I advanced the idea that we must find new and creative ways to compensate songwriters, rather than just adjust old models to attempt to recapture the copyright revenues. Basically acknowledging the past, but looking to the future for solutions.

Actions speak louder than stolen freeloaders music, so I am pleased to announce that I have created and am now poised (along with 2 others) to unleash our innovative Canadian and US Patent Pending music distribution system/device.

The device will provide excellent compensation to copyright holders, but still provide the music for free for consumers.

So stay tuned as we will be launching this device in early 2011.

In the interim, I am still not holding my breath that a SOCAN cheque will be arriving anytime soon....

Jason said...

Well, the levy today is applicable only to recording audio, so for television shows, you would get precisely $0.00. For a television writer, or virtually any creators other than musicians, to collect anything from this levy at all, it would have to be extended to cover not only new recording media, but other forms of creativity as well.

Television, film, musicians, photographers, software developers - each would be entitled to a share of the same pie. That $75 levy was calculated purely on the basis of music and other audio content. Either everyone would have to be content earning far less than they do today, or the levy would have to be higher than the retail price of the recordable media. It's getting pretty close already.

Howard Knopf at Excess Copyright has done some figuring on this same subject. I suggest you give him a read.

Anonymous said...

I download the occasional movie via P2P not for regular use or anything but just to see if its anygood to go see at a theatre.Most are not worth the time of day.You can make great trailers but the movies suck.Same happens with music.1 good tune and a cd full of shit.

I have no problem buying something worthwhile but todays quality standard has gone for a shit.Some so called writers need to find a better job,or the producers need to hire better people.Most of the stuff today is hyped up garbage.


Harry Potter being an exception but the quality is down on it also and the studio,trying to bring in another 500M or so splits into 2.

Make a good product and you can be rewarded.

Russell McOrmond said...

I've been attending (mostly in person, and sometimes online) each of the C-32 committee meetings. (My comments can be seen via http://BillC32.ca/blog and click on legislative committee).


My impression is that we have a battle of intermediaries, and a series of different creator and non-creator copyright holders lining up behind one or the other of these intermediaries.

One set of intermediaries is technology companies who claim that applying non-owner locks on devices, disallowing technology owners from making their own software choices, will benefit copyright holders. My opposition to this issue as a software author is what brought me into Copyright nearly a decade ago. (See http://FLORA.ca/own ) I consider non-owner locks on devices to be morally offensive, and consider this to be by far much worse than any of the levy proposals.

The other set of intermediaries are collective societies who are suggesting that a levy on devices for private uses of content with these devices should be created and/or extended.

The smaller proposal is an extension of the existing private copying regime for recorded music to devices. This wouldn't help you as a writer for television or movies, as that levy only applies to recorded music (composers, music performers, makers of sound recordings).

Of course, only a few musicians will get much out of that up to $75/device. If the Creators Copyright Coalition proposal (that Denis McGrath is likely supporting, as the Writers Guild is part of that), the numbers would change. Either that would have to be $7K per device, or it would mean that musicians would get an even smaller cut. The music industry is smaller than television, and television and movies are smaller than entertainment software, and entertainment software is (or at least was -- I don't have current numbers) smaller than business software. Add to this National Treatment treaty requirements which will send the vast majority of the money out of the country.

When you do all the math it is unlikely that members of CCC associations will get much money at all. Either the price of technology will be such that no Canadian will be able to afford any (I've heard some members cheer at this idea), or the percentage of the money that is collected that makes it to members of CCC member associations will barely cover the overhead of the collective societies and other intermediaries between those paying the money and creators.


I don't think either set of intermediaries, or creator/non-creator copyright holding associations backing each camp, really have the interests of creators in mind. I truly believe that in both cases creators will receive less money than they are today, not more. It is the intermediaries that will receive more, on the backs of creators.

Russell McOrmond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Russell McOrmond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Russell McOrmond said...

"As a songwriter /producer working in the music industry, I find your comments show a great deal of insight into the free music downloading (I call it freeloading) dilemma."

This is one of the problems with the levy, and that is people think it has something to do with unauthorized music filesharing. It is a compulsory licensing regime which makes certain private activities legal to do without permission from the copyright holder, in exchange for a payment in the form of a levy.

In other countries such as the USA, a vast majority of those activities are perfectly legal without permission or payment as part of their flexible Fair Use regime. (Remember -- we have been lied to by those claiming Canadian law is "weaker" than US law/etc).



People thinking that it has something to do with unauthorized music filesharing is why many people call it a "tax". While the legal mechanism is not a tax, both the proponents and opponents talk about it as if it is an amount of money collected from one group of people to provide funding to another group of people, where that funding is unrelated to the activity that the money was collected from.

Add in some proper transparency/accountability to that collection of money, and you have a tax + government funding program.

Is the private copying levy a tax?

I happen to believe a tax+funding program would be more lucrative for creators, as programs like the PLR (Public Lending Right) fund the actual Canadian creators and not the copyright holders who are often quite different. I also believe it would receive far less opposition from the general public or political parties.

Rusty James said...

If they started further 'taxing' ipods, pads, and doo-dads, I'd have to start stuffing my pockets at the store.

p.s. I got the Google joke.

p.p.s Because my head's not up my ass.

The Mad Hatter said...

So you've had the same problem. I have run into several people who swear that the levy is great, but will not give details. I was wondering if it's possible that they aren't allowed to comment further if they get paid.

Any time anyone questions the levy, they generally come under attack, for working against the best interests of the artists. Whether SOCAN treats the artists well or not no one knows, because they won't release the information needed to make a full evaluation.

FYI, I made the suggestion that copyright should be non-transferable in my submission to the copyright consultation. I understand that this upset certain people.

Gruesome said...

Here's my problem with a levy, I'm a photographer and have to use an elaborate setup of storage in the pursuit of my craft.
This includes personal computers, network attached storage devices, USB Keys, Memory Cards even just started using an Ipad to as a carry along portfolio.
Now as an artist how am I going to get these levies back?, because all these things are used to in my business and I don't for the life of me see why I should be taking money from my business and supplement someone who hasn't been able to make their business work under normal market conditions.
Having said all of this I am in favour of any improvement to the protection of copyright that will make the environment where artists can control their work to the point of actually getting fair market value for it.
I think it's important to remember copyright is the right to control your work, not a right to get paid. A levy is a copyright failure.

Gruesome said...

I wanted to add that if there was a way to recoup this money on my taxes than it would be less difficult to take.
But again I could see where people who buy the ipod touch for instance and don't use it for music would be really ticked to be paying a tax.

Joel Scott said...

Tax vs Levy, a levy is a tax!

A levy is a collection of contributions, or appropriations by the state. To state that the levy is not a tax to compensate for lost revenues by file sharing and freeloading music is incorrect.

The blank recordeable media tax measure was in direct response to rapidly diminishing revenues in the music industry in the secound half of the 90's.

Revenue loss in the recorded music industry is directly proportional to the increase in digital freeloading, that case is irrefutable. To insist that the levy is not a tax is pure semantics.

The Mad Hatter said...

Gruesome,

I have my own recording studio. I also do music videos. Oh, and I'm an inveterate amateur photographer. All this eats up tons of drive space, which is why I have several terrabyte back up drives. The levy could be really damaging to me.

And of course I don't believe that SOCAN will get the money where it's needed. Did you hear that ASCAP recently sent a press release out about how much money they are collection, but told the artists that they will be getting less money? Article here:
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101007/11300711326/ascap-tells-artists-it-s-cutting-their-payments-as-it-brags-to-the-press-how-much-more-money-it-s-collecting.shtml

Title:
ASCAP Tells Artists It's Cutting Their Payments As It Brags To The Press How Much More Money It's Collecting

I would have made it a link, but Blogger won't allow that, which is why I prefer WordPress.

Clint Johnson said...

This would lead to the entirely legitimate view that they've now paid for their media when they bought the MP3Player, smart phone, thumb drive or hard drive. It is most emphatically no longer piracy, it is simply downloading media you have already paid for.

Levies never will replace up front fees but I can see them seriously eroding them. They would deliver minuscule compensation that would be arbitrarily and unfairly distributed while legitimizing downloading pirated media rather than going through pay sites. They already paid for the media through the levy, why would they want to pay yet again for it?

The artist will be trading dollars for pennies- and the government will decide who gets those pennies based on cronyism and who best fills out the forms and applications. Is it any surprise that those who are intimately familiar with, and embrace the bureaucratic Rube Goldbergian machinations of government funding and subsidizing... that they are the biggest proponents of this scheme?

Sophie may be pleased with the money that is being disbursed to her but by what metric is it being apportioned? Giving it to SOCAN or its ilk to award to themselves strikes me as the "worser" of two evils.

Maybe they will have to mandate the installation of tracking software on all our hardware to audit everything we download and watch? I have to state that the preceding sentence was written in all sarcasm since there are many who would see that as a fine solution to the problem.

I did some back of the envelope calculations on the levies I've already paid for the stacks of recordable CDs and DVDs that I have bought over the years to back up photographs and create dailies, trailers and marketing materials- at a loonie each, the industry owes me about 160 songs. Should I hit the torrents and grab some or should I rip some of my friend's albums?

Seriously, since they took the money from me, doesn't somebody owe me some media?

If the levy on hard drives was passed, I would be owed a hell of a lot more. I buy HDs by the multiple terabytes for storing the R3D files that the Red camera produces- at 2 GB every minute those levies would add up. When working with the upcoming Red Epic in RedCode 5, HDRx mode in 3D, they will be generating as much as 12 GB every minute the camera rolls. Just my personal back ups of a typical film would work out to over 20 Terabytes.

Hell, three or four features and I'll never have to pay for a song or show for the rest of my life!

Once that camel's nose is inside the tent, do you think we will ever stop it? Many people watch the media on their personal computer or the big screen TV in the living room, so the levy really should extend to every device that it may be viewed on right? Since the media is delivered over the Internet then they really need to put a levy on your ISP right?