We have had blank media levies in Canada for almost ten years. The first tariff was imposed on December 18, 1999.
In that time, CPCC (the levy collective) proudly claims that:
Since then, more than $150 million has been paid to songwriters, composers, recording artists and other rights holders for the copying of their music. This money has been received by over 97,000 rights holders, most of whom would not be able to continue their careers without this revenue.That's less than $1,600 over ten years or an average of less than $160 a year for each of these rights holders, "most of whom" would supposedly "not be able to continue their careers without this revenue.”
Anyone who knows anything about the music industry will know that most rights holders will earn less than that amount and a few will earn a great deal more. The ones earning a lot more won't need it. And those earning the average $160 a year or less won't be quitting their day jobs anytime soon to “continue their careers” in the music business as a result of this levy.
Moreover, since the figure of 97,000 "right holders" presumably includes publishers and record companies that could receive very substantial payments, the payout to individual songwriters, composers and recording artists is probably a whole lot less than $160 a year on average. That's less than about half of the cost of pint of beer a week at typical Canadian pub. Hardly an amount that will sustain a career.
So who has benefited? About $22 million has gone to the costs of pursuing Copyright Board tariffs (lawyers, consultants, surveys, etc.), collection and enforcement (e.g. lawyers and auditors), and other causes such as “communications and government relations - $1,272,000." And that's only to the end of 2007. See CPCC's own numbers here.
The CPCC's days are now numbered because its only real source of revenue is from the levy on blank CDs. When is that last time most people bought any of those? They are rapidly going the way of the floppy disc. So - the CPCC needs a new source of levy money and has now been turned down twice by the Federal Court of Appeal in its attempt to levy iPods and similar devices because the current legislation doesn't apply to digital audio recorders.
While it's hard to see how this levy could have been much of an incentive to most of the musicians who have seen a piece of it, it's not hard to see where the real incentive lies. No doubt there is a great incentive for those who work for the CPCC as as lawyers, consultants, employees, lobbyists and others to try to get the Copyright Act amended so as to keep the levy alive by extending its reach to iPods, cell phones, and beyond.
PS - this is getting picked up here and here.