Digital Music

Is An iPod Tax Necessary?

image from www.geekologie.com The largest performers union in Canada is attempting to place a tax on iPods.

A quick search of the TechDirt database reveals that one organization or another has been attempting to achieve this for awhile now.

So this is nothing new, but still worth revisiting.

The key question is what makes music special? Movies and TV shows are pirated far more than music and just as apt to be placed on an iPod.

Why should an estimated $126 million in revenue go solely to artists?

This isn't to say that artists don't deserve money and that iPods aren't primarily used to play music, but it seems like in 2011 this tax is a bit dishonest.

It just gives way to inducing all kinds of taxes from other industries, hoping to get compensated for their pirated works. Yes, this tax would apply to all MP3 players and not just iPods. But it's harder to say that iPods are "repositories for stolen music." Videogame and app developers are getting their content pirated too.

Why don't they get money too?

Kevin Leflar, CEO of officialCommunity, who Hypebot has spoken to in the past, is from Canada, so I asked him what he thought of this tax. "A union is proposing that a government tax the sale of MP3 players and distribute the tax revenue to creators of content," Leflar replied to me in an e-mail. "What could go wrong?"

In other words, even if Canada does ever pass this and does tax consumers, nothing changes. The amount that an individual artist received would be meager at best. Sadly, as this post suggests, most of the funds would not make it into the hands of artists. It would go to collection and enforcement causes instead.

Also dishonest.

To be clear, I'm not for taxing iPods, but these seem like important questions.

If this is passed:

"All the music business problems in Canada are now solved," Leflar quipps.

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7 Comments

  1. Seems like a good idea to me. If that tax is implemented, Canadians would no longer need to feel guilty about loading up an iPod with pirated music.
    Aren’t blank CDs already taxed for the same purpose?

  2. My understanding is that they would still be liable to be prosecuted though. You may feel less bas about it, but that doesn't change the fact that other actions can still be taken against you.

  3. Seems it would just set it up to indirectly encourage people to get illegal music. If you’ve already paid the tax for that most people, especially those who think pirated music is somehow “fighting the man,” would probably feel entitled to download and like they shouldn’t pay more for the music then.

  4. This levy actually existed for a number of years, and was successfully distributed. CRIA (like RIAA) represents the four majors, and opposed the levy as it would legalize copying and downloading. It was eliminated about five years ago, but the levy on blank CDs still exists, and is distributed by a collective, similar to a performing rights society.

  5. I didn’t know they’d eliminated the original levy. I followed the news back when it applied to me, but I haven’t lived in Canada for years now. That thing was totally wacko. The blank CD thing, too. Buy blank media to back up your own files and Celine Dion gets paid. Just daffy.

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