Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Levies Then and Now

$3.00 Each???

$2,800 each???

There's a story out that the capacity of a blank DVD could be boosted to 1.6 terabytes, which would make the "levy" sought by the CCPC back in 2002 of $2.27 seem fairly small on a capacity basis. However, that proposed levy on blank DVDs was shot down (yes - I was involved) and has not been resuscitated because the CPCC apparently (though I'm sure reluctantly) recognized that these products are not "ordinarily used" to copy music. That said, the $2.27 proposed levy then sought on blank DVDs is now about 10 times the retail price, if you buy them in any quantity and get a good deal. They are now cheaper by far in many cases than blank CDs (which have only about 15% of their capacity at best), because the latter have a $0.29 "levy" (commonly referred to as a "tax"), which is what is keeping the CPCC in business and supporting its overall more than 10% expense/revenue structure. The CPCC has still not published its 2008 financial figures, though we are well into 2009.

Speaking of 2002 proposals, the CPCC then proposed a levy "of $21 per gigabyte of of memory in each non-removable hard drive incorporated into each MP3 player or into each similar device with an internal hard drive that is intended for use primarily to record and play music." In other words, the current 120 gig iPod "Classic" that sells for under $300 would have had a levy of $2,520 if the CPCC had succeeded. Yes - we stopped that too, though the CPCC and Copyright Board had to be told twice by the Federal Court of Appeal that it wasn't on.

All of this shows that today's quickie proposed legislative solutions and oft inflated tariff proposals to deal with supposedly serious crises arising from copyright and new technology are potentially tomorrows' absurdities or even nightmares.


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