September 19, 2023
Music Industry

The Canadian music industry wants us to pay more for our electronics. The iPod tax returns

[This is my weekly column on music for – AC]

If you’re of a certain vintage, you may remember the hysteria manifested in the Home Taping is Killing Music campaign launched in the U.K. in 1981 that came complete with a half-million-dollar TV ad campaign. The industry blamed weak sales on people who were wantonly recording albums onto blank cassettes and making mixtapes for the car or this new thing called the Sony Walkman. It even came with a cute punky logo.

Both artists and executives tried to convince the public that if we wanted music on cassette, then we’d better bloody well go out and buy a legal copy from the record shop. Even making a copy for personal use was portrayed as evil and immoral.

A decade later, pressure from the industry killed consumer use of Digital Audio Tape and the Digital Compact Cassette, two technologies that allowed for perfect duplication of copyrighted material. A copy protection scheme called the Serial Copy Management System was created especially to hobble the abilities of the new machines.

Meanwhile, the full-court press against the old-school cassette continued. In 1997, “private copying” was added to the Canadian Copyright Act, allowing for a levy to be assessed against blank cassettes and hidden by the manufacturer or importer in the retail cost of the tape. The idea was for this money to be redistributed to artists as compensation for music that was illegally copied and thus deprived artists of sales income. Within two years, Canadians were paying 23 cents on each blank cassette and 60 cents on each MiniDisc.

Keep reading. Something important is coming up this week.

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.

Alan Cross has 37066 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “The Canadian music industry wants us to pay more for our electronics. The iPod tax returns

  • The current copyright standard in Canada and most of the world is already Life+50 years. This proposal suggest Life+70 which I think is the current standard in the US. We just recently negotiated Life+50 in the TPP2 treaty so it’s silly to consider changing this now.

    Expecting ISP’s to monitor their users is ridiculous.

    Assuming consumer electronics and blank media will be used for piracy is like assuming anyone who uses a VPN must be trying to access ‘out of Canada’ material from sites like Netflix.

    We live in a country where the burden of proof is supposed to rest with the accuser and not the defendant. If someone is violating your copyright, take them to court.

    If the industry wants to increase artists revenues they should be working on changing the levy on streams. Personally, I still prefer to buy music as it puts more money in the pocket of the people who made it.


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