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This frosts my hide. It’s wrong for so many reasons.

Not only is the Canadian government treading into uncharted waters with a tax on a medium that they are ill-equipped to understand, but they’re merely serving to further entrench a music industry that has steadfastly refused to accept change.

This is the same music industry that has inhibited Canadian artists in their quest to find worldwide audiences for decades because of their own assumption that all Canadian musicians benefit exclusively from the 30% CanCon rule to a much greater degree than their own talent.

In the era of digital convergence what IS or ISN’T a “music playing device”?? I can guarantee you that this language in law will be clumsy and open to vastly varying interpretations. Those loopholes in definitions will be used by the RIAA to punish everyone from PC makers to Set Top Box manufacturers to car stereo manufacturers.

How much of this tax will get back to the artists who are supposedly being victimized by the technology? Probably none: it’s a win-win deal for government and the RIAA — the bureaucrats get to line their wallets and the RIAA gets to further inhibit the growth in diversity in how we access music.

I think it’s fair to say that the RIAA and Artists ARE losing money because of digital replication technologies. But it’s appropriate to ask whether this is because we as consumers have malicious intent in copying music for free or whether this is because we as consumers want to explore music through diverse media and the industry steadfastly refuses to alter their ideology to meet that need?

The music industry, powered by its own arrogance, thinks that it rules the market. MP3 and other media are examples where the consumers have voiced their discontent with the music industry’s definition of “choice”. Perhaps we ought to let RIAA members, and Artists who work within that system, starve under rampant piracy until they learn that their model of distribution and copyright is fundamentally broken. Only then might they adopt strategies that reflect the desires of the music-consuming public.


———- Forwarded message ———- Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 08:56:38 -0800 (PST) From: Salim Virani Reply-To: me [at] salimvirani [dot] com To: info [at] digitalconsumer [dot] org Cc: webmaster [at] digitalconsumer [dot] org Subject: Canadian Content

It seems that we Canadians are paving the way for the RIAA and others. If you havent heard already, the Canadian Government has legislated a new tax of $21CDN ($13US)/GB on non-removable storage in music playing devices.

Of course, with enough attention, this can be reversed. They are entertaining reactions until May 8th.


And please make this information available on your site as well as adding a Canadian option to the Get Active section. If the site could fire off an email similar to the fax you have prepared, that would be a great start.

The Canadian Government contact (from the link above) is: CLAUDE MAJEAU Secretary General 56 Sparks Street, Suite 800 Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0C9 (613) 952-8621 (Telephone) (613) 952-8630 (Facsimile) majeau.claude [at] cb-cda.gc [dot] ca (Electronic mail)

Let me know how it goes. Thanks.

Salim Virani

—— End of Forwarded Message

———- Forwarded message ———- Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 09:46:35 -0800 (PST) From: Salim Virani Reply-To: me [at] salimvirani [dot] com To: majeau.claude [at] cb-cda.gc [dot] ca Subject: New Media Tarrifs and Fair Use Rights

As a constituent and an ardent consumer of digital media, I write today to urge you to support a Consumer Technology Bill of Rights, and to express my concerns about the recent trend toward allowing one-sided copyright laws to eliminate my Fair Use rights. I am also writing to oppose the new levies and tarrifs placed on recordable media, specifically those placed on hard drives and flash memory.

These tarrifs have not been thought through. They will simply remove our rights as consumers in the short term and shift the portable music hardware industry to more tax-sensible media in the long-term. For instance, the Rio Volt stores MP3s on a CD so I can lower the tarrif I pay by simply storing MP3s on a CD instead of a hard-drive-based player. Or wait a year, and you’ll see hard-drive-based player being sold with no hard-drive at all. You can just pick up a tarrif-free hard drive at the computer store and plug it in. This approach in ineffective. All you are doing is slowing innovation in the media industry without making a dent in the piracy problem.

Historically, our country has enjoyed a balance between the rights of copyright holders and the rights of citizens who legally acquire copyrighted works. Generally speaking, rights holders have the exclusive right to distribute and profit from artistic works. Consumers like me who legally acquire these works are free to use them in most noncommercial ways. Unfortunately, this balance has shifted dramatically in recent years, much to the detriment of consumers.

To prevent further erosion of my rights, I would like to add my voice to support the consumer rights supported by in the U.S. in calling for a “consumer technology bill of rights”. It is simply an attempt to assert positively the public’s personal use rights. These rights are not new; they are historic rights granted in previous legislation and court rulings that have over the last four years been whittled away.

Under the guise of “preventing illegal copying” I believe Hollywood is vilifying their customers – people like me – and using the legislative process to create new lines of business at my expense. Their goal is to create a legal system that takes away my long-cherished personal use rights and then to charge me an additional fee to regain those rights!

I understand the intention of your approach. Apply a tarrif on media in the player to cover an (alleged) loss of income from copyrighted material. First of all, if you take an unbiased look at the data, you will find evidence indicating that sharing services increase legitimate sales. Until this trend is clearly reversed, these measures are premature.

But even if we assume it is true that this new technology is causing the media companies to lose revenue, it is their business model which is outdated. In this case, these new tarrifs can only be considered progress if you also force the businesses out of their old model. You must then allow copyrighted material to move freely, knowing that the compensation is taken care of by the tarrifs placed on the player. You cant charge me twice for the same thing. I’ve already paid for the album at the CD store so I shouldn’t have to pay for it again just to listen to it while I’m jogging. That is my right.

Do not allow the media companies to rest on their laurels at the cost of my Fair Use Rights. Every other industry is adopting new technology and innovating. They are improving the way they do business and evolving with the Information Age. The media industry is asking you to let them be an exception. Why should they be? And why at the cost of consumer rights?

Copy protection, especially to prevent overseas piracy for illicit sale, is an important issue. But before you consider yet another change in the law at the behest of the copyright holders, I urge you in the strongest possible terms to protect my Fair Use rights.

Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter.