Germany Increases Levy on Storage Media by 2,000%. Is Canada Next?

It’s long been assumed by the Powers-That-Be in this country that we are a nation of thieves.  This is why there’s been a levy (i.e. a hidden tax) on blank cassettes and blank CDs/DVDs since the late 90s.

The theory is that since we’re going to use this media to steal music, the levy goes to compensate artists who lose money as a result.  (I haven’t bought in this argument since the numbers were deconstructed for me.  See for yourself.)

But how many people use cassettes and blank CDs/DVDs anymore?  Precisely.  Which is why there’s been a lobbying effort to extend this levy to ALL storage media, including the hard drives that reside in your iPod and smart phone.  And USB keys.  And the hard drives in your computer.

What?  You don’t steal music?  Too bad.  It doesn’t even matter if (like my parents) you never use your computer for anything more than email.  You would be required to pay.

Canadians have so far been able to dodge what’s referred to as the “iPod tax,” but given what just happened in Germany, the pressure’s on to see something like this happen here sooner rather than later.

Germany already has a storage media levy.  But now, the ZPU, the organization that gets to set the levy on storage media in the country, has announced a few increases.  (All figures in approximate Canadian dollars.)


  • USB stick greater than 4GB:  Up from 10 cents to $1.93, an increase of 1,850%.
  • Memory card greater than 4GB:  Up from 10 seconds to $2.42, an increase of 2,338%


Why?  No justification was given.  They don’t have to.  They’re the ZPU.  Shades of what we can expect?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “Germany Increases Levy on Storage Media by 2,000%. Is Canada Next?

  • June 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    If consumers are moving towards streaming media (access to) and away from owning media (CDs, iPods), I don't see the investment towards levying diskspace (unless tacked on to tablets/smartphone and desktop computers) as a particularly forward thinking way of doing business.

  • June 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    It's government, taxes and levys are largely reactionary and rarely forward thinking. Some retailers make a point of displaying the levy separate from the price (London Drugs for example out west) but futureshop and friends don't so I really thinking people have no idea it exists in a lot of cases..


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.