Good afternoon, my name is Annie Morin and I am chair of the board of the Canadian Private Copying Collective. The private copying levy has been an important part of the Canadian copyright regime for more than a decade. The levy, which is included in the purchase price of blank audio recording media, is distributed to copyright holders in the music sector.
Currently, only one blank medium is subject to this levy, which provides not very substantial revenue for artists. And that is blank CDs, to which a 29¢ levy applies.
However, the amounts generated by the levy on blank CDs are declining at an increasingly alarming rate because they are an increasingly obsolete medium for copying music. I would like to share a few quite edifying figures with you.
In 2008, the total amount of the levy for distribution to rights holders was $27.6 million. This year, the forecast amount is in the order of $10.6 million. That's a 60% decline in three years.
The dilemma is obvious and urgent. We all know that iPod-style MP3 players have become the predominant music copying medium. Some 70% of the 1.3 billion songs copied annually in Canada are copied on digital audio recorders.
That means that Canadian artists receive nothing in exchange for the vast majority of those copies. What we urgently need is a simple amendment to the Copyright Act that would allow the levy to be applied to MP3 players such as the iPod.
Such an amendment would not change the spirit of the act, which is to recognize and protect the right of Canadian artists to fair compensation for the use of their work. Instead it would constitute a simple update of the act.
In 2004, the Copyright Board set the amount of the levy at between $2 and $25, depending on the type of memory in question. Based on our research and our experience, we believe that those amounts—between $2 and $25—are still valid today. When they were applied in 2004, there was no negative impact on the market.
This kind of levy would apply solely to devices developed, manufactured and marketed to copy music. There has been extensive discussion about the fact that the full range of electronic devices such as home computers and BlackBerries would be subject to the levy. That is absolutely not the case.
It is now time to adapt this levy to the twenty-first century. It needs to reflect how music is actually copied today, not how it was copied a decade ago.
That said, the best way to show you how important the levy is for our artists is no doubt to ask Sophie Milman, a Canadian artist, to share her experience with you.