Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Media The Almighty Buck The Internet Your Rights Online

Canadian Songwriters' Collective Licensing Bid Goes Voluntary 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the optional-taxes dept.
Last year, the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) proposed a plan to legalize the file sharing of copyrighted songs, which involved a small monthly fee to people using an internet connection. Critics of the plan complained that it amounted to another tax, and the Canadian recording industry said it violated copyright law. Now, as an anonymous reader writes, "The SAC has renewed its bid to legalize peer-to-peer file sharing in return for a levy on Internet service. The SAC is now calling for the plan to be voluntary, with both consumers and creators having the right to opt-out. ACTRA, the leading performer group in Canada, now says it is also supportive of a legalized approach with the prospect of extending the plan to video sharing."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Canadian Songwriters' Collective Licensing Bid Goes Voluntary

Comments Filter:
  • It's really the only way to have some kind of paid file sharing and still preserve individual "ownership" of copyright (as opposed to corporate "ownership"). If I were a Canadian musician, I'd be glad to be offered a chance to opt-out of this system (though I would probably not actually opt-out).
    • by Imagix (695350) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @10:37AM (#27329489)
      No, no, no. Opt-in is the way it should work. It's only opt-out because of the hassle it takes to actually opt-out, and it depends on the general ignorance of the people that they won't be properly informed that they're even paying this extra tax and that it's possible to opt-out. With these two issues, they would get a huge "sign-up' to this scheme.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jurily (900488)

        No, no, no. Opt-in is the way it should work. It's only opt-out because of the hassle it takes to actually opt-out, and it depends on the general ignorance of the people that they won't be properly informed that they're even paying this extra tax and that it's possible to opt-out. With these two issues, they would get a huge "sign-up' to this scheme.

        Translation:

        If you do not wish to get notified about our latest v14gr4 and c1al1s offerings, please send an empty email to unsubscribe@spammer.cx

        The result is also the same: you get targeted.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        Agreed.

        Opt-out is a fallacy. The concept of "opt-out" needs to be abandoned by our society as a whole, its shady. It's like you have to opt-out of being charged for services you don't want or never asked for, due to greed/predatory processes.

      • by cellurl (906920)
        If I have something of value I protect it.

        DVD's and CD's are a public nuisance, like a swimming pool without a fence around it. Get rid of both.

        Embed a serial number in the DVD in random places. Make it hard to pirate. Prosecute individuals who do, not sites.

        This is like prohibition. It didn't work. Don't allow new taxes, new limitations, new throttling under any disguise and this is a disguise.

        Two things I want to see,
        1) a paypal donate site for retired actors/writers. When I pirate, I will don
    • I'd bet that any artist that opts out will get downloaded more often than they would have otherwise.

    • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @10:45AM (#27329581) Homepage

      Letting individual copyright holders opt-out makes the proposal useless. The entire point was that, for a small monthly tax, people wouldn't have to worry about copyrights so far as non-commercial, personal use was concerned. If it doesn't apply to all copyrighted content, though, the resulting situation wouldn't be much different than what we have now; people would still run the risk of a lawsuit every time they shared something. (You don't expect anyone to actually check the lists, right? Even assuming they're even published in an accessible fashion, if people are paying a monthly "file sharing" tax they're going to expect access to everything.)

      • Letting individual copyright holders opt-out makes the proposal useless. The entire point was that, for a small monthly tax, people wouldn't have to worry about copyrights so far as non-commercial, personal use was concerned.

        It seems to me like a small monthly tax just to not have to worry about copyrights for personal non-commercial use is already useless.

      • Actually, all rights holders will opt-in although it may take a bit of time. Just like performing rights, where rights holders can theoretically opt-out no one does. Because everyone wants to be paid for their work!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mea37 (1201159)

      Yes... and how will you, the individual copyright holder whose rights this plan respects, get paid assuming you don't opt-out?

      I'll bet you won't. I'll bet this doesn't respect your ownership of copyright at all.

  • "The SAC has renewed its bid to legalize peer-to-peer file sharing "

    Isn't it already/still legal in Canada?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Downloading for personnal use, yes. Uploading, no.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by joelmax (1445613)
      Its kind of a grey area here right now. We are free to download for personal use, however uploading is strictly illegal as you are now distributing copyright material. This fosters a leeching society for those that know and understand what is happening and want to stay legal, those who don't care carry on as normal.

      Now, right before the last election was called, a bill was brought to the table (Bill C-61) which would make downloading copyright material illegal, even for personal use, however, when an ele

  • Did those other taxes that were proposed go through? I remember reading on Slashdot about a tax in Canada that would be added to blank media and MP3 players which went into the pockets of the music industry up there.

    If it did and this goes in place as well, they surely would be making more money off of taxes than from actual music sales!

    • Re:Other taxes? (Score:5, Informative)

      by swordgeek (112599) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:17AM (#27329995) Journal

      We've had a media "levy" (don't call it a tax!) for the last twelve years. The irony is that my brother (a full-time professional musician) has to pay this levy on blank media he uses for his own music, and the money goes back to the record companies or music publishers. If any artists get his money, it's the Celine Dions of the country. (Although I seem to recall that she came out firmly against the levy, pointing out that even she's made less from it than she's paid into it by buying CD blanks for her computer).

      • Re:Other taxes? (Score:5, Informative)

        by dontmakemethink (1186169) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @01:30PM (#27332103)

        As a professional your brother should be claiming CD-R's as a business expense anyway. I'm a sound tech who goes through 2-3 100 CD-R spindles monthly, entirely on content I record legitimately myself, much of it live demo recordings. I write it all off, so they can levy it all they want as far as I'm concerned. I also write off half my "entertainment" expenditures from every outing where I discus music with anyone, so roughly 45% of my restaurant/bar bills. It's quite an easy subject to bring up!

        I also question whether the tax is actually collected on all imported media, since I pay 23 cents per CD-R at a local shop [canadacomputers.com], and the tax is supposed to be 21 cents each, soon to be raised to 29 cents [cdrlabs.com] if it hasn't already. I have trouble believing the manufacturing, distributing, and retailing revenues total a mere 2 cents a disc.

        As an artist who knows I'll never see dime of any such levy, it's pretty irritating. How the music industry is supposed to benefit by making internet traffic more expensive is beyond me. This is typical of the music industry's back-end approach to combating music piracy rather than the value-added approach which is generally the most successful.

        Worse yet is the "SOCAN tax" for live performances. 3% of the pay for an artist or band is collected by SOCAN [socan.ca] (Tariff 3A) to be redistributed to SOCAN members. If an artist or band plays all original music, they have to submit a setlist and wait to get that money back. If they play no original or SOCAN member compositions (i.e. all American-written songs) the collected money is basically swallowed by SOCAN. So the organization whose mission is to compensate Canadian songwriters for 3rd party performance and broadcast actually taxes Canadian performers unfairly and profits from the performance of non-Canadian compositions.

        Fortunately, virtually no small live music venues across the country cooperate until they are compelled by SOCAN, and of the 200+ small venues I've played I've only encountered two such venues, one has since closed. So just avoid the Boar's Head Pub in Stratford Ontario and you're ok...

        • by swordgeek (112599)

          Point well taken, and I'm pretty sure my brother writes off his CD-R blanks (as well as his computer, appropriate entertainment expenses, etc.). If he didn't, he'd be, well...even less well off.

          However, the blank media charge supposedly is collected on _all_ media. If you're paying $0.02 (or less-even a negative number!) for media before the levy, it's because the store (or maybe the wholesaler) is probably selling it at a loss, as a loss-leader to get you into the store.

          Many years ago, "Cook County Saloon"

        • I also question whether the tax is actually collected on all imported media, since I pay 23 cents per CD-R at a local shop [canadacomputers.com], and the tax is supposed to be 21 cents each, soon to be raised to 29 cents [cdrlabs.com] if it hasn't already. I have trouble believing the manufacturing, distributing, and retailing revenues total a mere 2 cents a disc.

          It's not. The second link there explicitly says "blank audio recording media". There was an outcry when the levy was introduced on CDs since they were already heavily used for computer data. So there are two distinct-in-name but otherwise completely identical classes of CDs: CD-Audio and CD-R. CD-Audio is marketed for copying music CDs and CD-R is marketed for data. CD-Audio bears the levy, CD-R does not.

          Also, blank cassettes bear the levy, but I do not believe that anything else does. Yet.

          ...Stu

          • Ironically there's probably more audio being burned to CD-R's in data format (MP3's etc) than audio format.

            And I'm insensed that I have to pay the audio levy on cassettes for my C64 tape drive!!

        • by svick (1158077)
          I find it quite amusing that in Czech, "socan" is a derogatory word meaning "socialist".
      • Thousands of songwriters and artists receive payment for the private copying levy in Canada. I am one of them. That said, as sales of all kinds of CDs decline, the levy itself will disappear and new technologies will dominate the marketplace. File sharing is the major one going forward.
    • by Znork (31774)

      Blank media taxes are common elsewhere too. Not to mention that copyright in itself is fundamentally a delegated taxation form only called otherwise to keep control in the various publishing industries and for propaganda purposes.

      Not that handling the issue as a taxation form is necessarily a bad solution; the simplest way to solve the whole economic part of the copyright issue would be to just slap a sales-tax of, say, 50% on any revenues made from copying/publishing/performing specific material with the p

  • Next election... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by jsrlepage (696948)

    ...I'll vote for the party that supports this (Probably NDP/NPD).

  • Seriously, Canada's stupid protectionist media laws have given us the fantastic sounds of Nickelback, Avril Levigne, and Alanis Morrisette. For even Neil Young there's a dozen no talent hacks being propped up by these laws-the audio equivalent of corn subsidies. And now they're going to give them even more money? Ridiculous! The US has done a lot of stupid things, but can you imagine if we were giving tax money to Billy Ray Cyrus and Li'l Wayne? Free money from the government! All you have to do is ma

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)

      Seriously, Canada's stupid protectionist media laws have given us the fantastic sounds of Nickelback, Avril Levigne, and Alanis Morrisette.

      Yeah, welcome to the music industry. Or have you not noticed that the US has its fair share of complete, utter garbage, too?

      No, I'm sorry, the cancon rules may have their problems and you may disagree with them, but they're hardly responsible for the glut of crap that clogs the airwaves. For that you can blame good ol' fashion pop culture.

  • (Supposing, for a moment, that I were Canadian and this were to pass...)

    So under this plan, I could choose to pay $x/mo; and if I did, I could legally share some content (but how do I know which content?)...

    Of course, I already had -- and still have -- the choice to pay for my music as I acquire it, yet I was choosing to share it illegally instead. Why would this be different? Why wouldn't I opt out and take my chances just like I always did?

    Maybe I'm sharing $xxx worth of music every month, and while I'm

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by swordgeek (112599)

      You make one mistake, in my estimation:

      "...only heavy utilizers are going to opt-in (or rather, not opt-out)."

      This is where they'll make their money: If they implement the fee, 90% of users won't notice it or bother to opt-out. It's going to be a voluntary overpayment, with the money going to the middlemen as usual. (Will the artists get a cent of this? No, of course not! Why would THEY be the ones to profit from their music?)

      Yeah, it's stupid. Stupid, immoral, and corrupt--like the music industry everywher

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      You're doing it wrong : you are applying a moral and rational reasoning to business.
  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @10:53AM (#27329701) Journal
    Wouldn't this scheme be illegal as Negative option billing [wikipedia.org]?
    • by Aeolien (939711)
      Correct. Negative option billing is illegal in Canada.
    • by vux984 (928602)

      Wouldn't this scheme be illegal as Negative option billing?

      Don't worry they'll get you to opt-in to a free six month trial when you renew or change your internet plan. The charges will start on the 7th month. It how they been nailing people with useless fluff on their cell phones for years now.

      Sure its not as slimy as outright negative option billing. Its more like those software installers that install yahoo or google browser toolbars if you aren't careful to un-check the box EVERY time you install an upda

  • I would gladly opt-in for such a plan. Although, I would prefer that it also carried the right to share media created by artists in other countries. Of course, I would only share media with others who have also opted in for such a plan. There is far too much complexity associated with governments and other organizations spying on their citizens, repeatedly coming up with ineffective DRM techniques, etc. For a small monthly fee, I have no problems whatsoever paying for the right to have un-complicated righ
  • Taxing everyone that owns an Internet connection
    is like:

    Instead of spending money policing ATM fraud,
    let us rather LEGALIZE ATM fraud.

    Then tax everyone that has a bank account
    so as to offset the economic costs of the
    fraud.

  • If I liked the product provided by big media, this kind of tribute might be okay. But it sucks.

    This is the age of computer databases. People can 'opt in' to fee-based content provision just as easily as they can opt out.

    This is another attempt by big media to turn the internet into another cable network dominated by them.

    • This is the age of computer databases. People can 'opt in' to fee-based content provision just as easily as they can opt out.

      It's not about the ease of opting in or out. It is the choice of default condition. By defaulting to opted in, they will be charging everyone with an internet account, regardless of whether they know about the charge or not. Businesses, schools, proverbial grandmothers who email their grandkids, all of them will be charged a fee for downloading music, whether or not they actuall
      • by MarkvW (1037596)

        I totally agree with you. I do not like this attempt by big content to dominate the ISP infrastructure.

  • Um I'm just dandy with the currently levy. I pay a tax to some has been Canadian music star when I back up my files or try out distros . Since they take my money, I take their music for free.
  • First, downloading music is legal in Canada. Consumers pay a levy on CDR media to offset the "losses" from downloading; heck they tried to impose this on MP3 players as well. I think the lobbying groups would probably sacrifice that levy, to get a bigger piece of a larger pie.

    Second, it should be opt-IN. As another poster noted, this would be reverse billing, and not legal in Canada.

    Personally; I'm fine with the way it is. I download all the music I want and I stopped buying blank CDs years ago.

  • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:27AM (#27330133)
    I do not unlawfully download copyrighted content so why must I pay the tax. I already have to pay a tax on my CD's that I use for backups of my own personal stuff.
  • by Meneth (872868) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:39AM (#27330275)
    What about artists that are not members of the SAC? What about movies, games, software and other works?

    Obviously, they cannot be covered by this agreement. Thus, most file-sharing will remain illegal in Canada.
    • by msouth (10321)

      C'mon, you're just grandstanding. We all know that practically every game, movie, song, etc that anyone wants is produced in Canada.

    • You do not have to be a member of the SAC to be paid! This money will be divided among anyone who has songs file shared and opts-in
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:54AM (#27330491)
    Here are the problems with a tax on internet to support copyright (which is what this amounts to):

    (1) Most of the money comes from people who are not filesharing. So the many are punished for the deeds of the few. This is a bankrupt philosophy.

    (2) You know very well that little if any of the money will go to the artists. So what's the point?

    (3) It does absolutely nothing to solve the "problem".

    The money comes from the wrong place, it will go to the wrong place, and it solves nothing. So what is this for?
    • by shaitand (626655)

      It's an opt out plan, anyone who isn't filesharing can just opt-out. The studios will certainly opt out so that just leaves the individual artists.

      Your points fail.

      • You seem to presume that they will even be told this is happening.

        Customer: Why has my bill gone up?
        ISP: We've had to increase our charges due to an increase in service costs.

        "Service" being giving the music industry as much money as possible, stolen from the general populace.

        By the way, I own everyone's soul, to be collected at midnight, unless they opt out.

        • by shaitand (626655)

          'ISP: We've had to increase our charges due to an increase in service costs.'

          Doubtful, I don't know of any service provider who isn't more than happy to tell their customers the increase rates are government mandated. It isn't as if the ISP's are getting this money and want it to continue, they just bear the burden and expense of collecting it.

      • by DeskLazer (699263)
        are you sure? wouldn't the people who offer to opt-in just be targets? sure, they may be ok with legalizing songs shared by the SAC, but now they are basically saying "hi, I'm a target, and I probably also illegally torrent movies and software."

        call me skeptical, but this is just opening the door for more levies, and hopefully this gets struck down.

        p.s. who's to say that they don't opt out and still fileshare? will they get penalized, or just be forced into the plan? what if the plan changes in th
        • by shaitand (626655)

          'are you sure? wouldn't the people who offer to opt-in just be targets? sure, they may be ok with legalizing songs shared by the SAC, but now they are basically saying "hi, I'm a target, and I probably also illegally torrent movies and software."'

          No because you are opt'd in by default.

  • by shaitand (626655)

    I was under the impression that Canadians already pay a tax for their file sharing when they buy blank cd's? If they are already paying the tax on blank media why should they pay another tax at all?

    This does sound better but they need to drop the media tax first and change this to opt-in. They also shouldn't limit it to music or videos but all digital media.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by camperdave (969942)
      I was under the impression that Canadians already pay a tax for their file sharing when they buy blank cd's? If they are already paying the tax on blank media why should they pay another tax at all?

      Who the blaze uses CDs anymore? People download from the internet onto their computers, and then transfer to their mp3 player.
      • by shaitand (626655)

        Whats your point?

      • by esocid (946821)
        Ever been to a venue and seen a small band passing out CDs of their music? These small-timers buy CDs with their own money, pass them out freely and hope to get fans to throw a few bucks their way. They're getting shafted by following the ridiculous rules that the govt has made.
  • Can't everyone just ignore filesharing. Don't they have better things to do like protect the children or something. If making music, tv, movies, books, photso or any other content no longer become profitable then people will just stop creating it. The world will go on, we'll find other way to amuse ourselves and filesharing will cease on it own. If there still money to be made then perhaps less or better content will be produced or new business models will emerge. Why pay $5 a month when I can get everythi
    • If making music, tv, movies, books, photso or any other content no longer become profitable then people will just stop creating it.

      You may be surprised, but many people will continue to create regardless of profit motive. Something to do with "the nature of the true artist" or something. I, for one, am looking forward to this turn of events, as maybe some of the gold-diggers will take their shovels elsewhere.

  • From one of TFAs:
    ---
    Why the monetization of music file sharing is good for me if I am an Internet Service Provider:
    Monetization will dramatically lower ISP bandwidth costs. Once file sharing is an authorized activity, ISPs can establish their own proprietary servers to service the bulk of file sharing activities. Since users would access the most shared songs on this "internal" system, it would lead to a dramatic reduction in the need for bandwidth to the world wide web, and a considerable cost saving to pr

    • by szorg (1502781)
      Is Rogers like Canada's evil overlord? I was in Toronto recently and they were EVERYWHERE. It'd be great if it was across all music, as in you're good to go for whatever you want. Opt-in makes more sense though. Higher fee, but more targeted. I'd pay monthly for unlimited DRM-Free music.
      • They're kind of like fox but without fox news. Publishing/broadcasting/isp/cell phoness etc. One giant media conglomerate.
  • Download copyrighted stuff,

    ...and still get sued for copyright infringement by some artist that DID opt out of the scheme.

    I bet it won't be like that levy Canada and many other countries charge on blank media - the levy that allows you to put any copyrighted materials you like on said media without the risk of being sued for copyright infringement, right? Oh, wait... someone knocking at the door... brb.

  • Paying a flat tax on digital music and video would be much more convenient than what we have where I live, as long as it's not ridiculously high. And opt-out is definitely fine with me: they're actually liberating me from the paperwork necessary to opt-in! Again, this may only seem attractive to me and my compatriots, whose lives are often made miserable by monstrous bureaucracy and unavailability of legal online services most of the Western countries are used to.

"Confound these ancestors.... They've stolen our best ideas!" - Ben Jonson

Working...