If You Still Buy Blank CDs and (Gasp!) Blank Cassettes, Guess What?

Back in the days when we were ripping our own CDs for the car or the DiscMan, we’d buy spindles and spindles of blank CDs. I must have gone through HUNDREDS of them. I’d also cast an envious eye towards where these blank discs were always so much cheaper–often by up to 95% cheaper. Why?

That’s because back in the 90s, the Canadian Copyright Board slapped a tax levy on all recordable media (CD-R, CD-RW, CD-R audio and CD-RW  along with blank cassettes) as a bulwark against piracy. The idea was to collect a few cents on each disc and tape for distribution to artists who were losing money due to unauthorized and illegal copying of their music. The imposition of this tax levy caused a big stink at the time but we learned to live with it.

Now, though, sales of blank recordable media have dropped precipitously. I haven’t bought a spindle of blank CDs in years–and I wouldn’t even think of buying a blank cassette. The amount of money collected and disbursed to artists must be insanely low and must cost a stupid amount to administrate. However, one a tax levy is in place, it’s pretty much impossible to remove it.  So it should come as no surprise that the Copyright Board maintains the tax tariffs on all this media at the current rate of 29 cents each.  It’ll stay that way until at least the end of next year.

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.

2 thoughts on “If You Still Buy Blank CDs and (Gasp!) Blank Cassettes, Guess What?

  • January 13, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Also idiotically, blank DVDs, with 6-7x the amount of storage, became substantially cheaper than blank CDs.

  • January 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Still trying to figure out what the “guess what” refers to in the title – there’s been a levy in place for years, everyone knows about it because of the stink people raised when it came in, and as far as I can tell it’s still there. What has changed? The article even ends with the sentence “it should come as no surprise….” then why did the title indicate explicitly that I would be surprised by it’s content. Sad state of affairs when even Alan Cross has resorted to clickbait headlines.


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