Since 1998 CATAAlliance has been battling the levy imposed on recordable media, especially CD-ROMs, under the Copyright Act. The Copyright Board is reviewing an application from the Canadian Private Copying Collective, which collects the levy, to raise it from 21 cents to 59 cents, and extend it to memory cards, flash memory and mini-hard drives. On December 13 the Board refused to increase the levy, but it did extend it to new devices.
The Board questioned why CPCC had never sought a levy on personal computer hard drives. CPCC knows that would create a storm of opposition. It will propose an amendment to the Copyright Act definition of recordable media to specifically exclude PC hard drives. CATAAlliance will support the amendment.
The CPCC has recognised CATA's argument that high tech companies which need CD-ROMs for legitimate business reasons should not be forced to pay the levy, and has extended its zero-rating policy to the industry. To qualify for zero-rating, companies are required:
- To complete an online application at www.cpcc.ca, and agree to an ongoing contractual relationship with CPCC. CPCC will issue a signed agreement and a certificate number.
- To pay an administrative fee of $60 annually.
- To report annually to CPCC the quantity, sources and use of any media bought under the program, which will require an appropriate accounting system. Reports will be subject to audit at CPCC discretion.
- To buy zero-rated media from manufacturers, importers and distributors that have been certified by CPCC. They are listed on the CPCC Website. It will not be possible to buy zero-rated media from retail stores.
The Copyright Board rejected CPCC's zero-rating scheme as illegal in its December 13 decision. CPCC has filed an appeal in Federal Court.
If the zero-rating scheme appears too cumbersome, members can avoid the levy entirely. Under the Copyright Act, they do not have to pay the levy if they import CDs directly for their own use.
CATAAlliance will seek the elimination of the recordable media levy during the next round of Copyright Act amendments, which are expected to start this year.