Canadian Imposes Levies On iPod, Allows Some P2P Use

by , 4:30 PM EST, December 12th, 2003

Earlier today, we said that a ruling was expected today in Canada that could impose levies on iPods and other digital music players in order to compensate artists and songwriters for all the pirated music that might be on those devices. That ruling has been handed down, and the Canadian Copyright Board will be imposing a CAN$15 levy on digital music players up to 10 GB in capacity, and CAN$25 levies on devices with more capacity.

The same ruling also deems as "allowable" some P2P downloading, according to an article at C|Net. That doesn't mean that the Canadians in the audience should fire up a Gnutella client and grab everything they can find, however. First of all, uploading to a peer to peer network is still illegal. Second, the law allows one to download only music that one already owns. From C|Net:

In its decision Friday, the Copyright Board said uploading or distributing copyrighted works online appeared to be prohibited under current Canadian law.

However, the country's copyright law does allow making a copy for personal use and does not address the source of that copy or whether the original has to be an authorized or noninfringing version, the board said.

Under those laws, certain media are designated as appropriate for making personal copies of music, and producers pay a per-unit fee into a pool designed to compensate musicians and songwriters. Most audio tapes and CDs, and now MP3 players, are included in that category. Other mediums, such as DVDs, are not deemed appropriate for personal copying.

Computer hard drives have never been reviewed under that provision, however. In its decision Friday, the board decided to allow personal copies on a hard drive until a fee ruling is made specifically on that medium or until the courts or legislature tell regulators to rule otherwise.

You can read the full article at C|Net's Web site.

You can find the iPod at the Apple Store starting at US$299.

You can find Panther at the Apple Store for US$129.

The Mac Observer Spin:

The allowance of downloading copies of already owned songs is very reasonable, though we regret that the pirates and self-entitled will incorrectly think that this ruling makes all downloading allowable in Canada. While this decision is sure to irk anti-consumer groups such as the RIAA (which is already less than happy with Canada due to its lack of a DMCA-like law on the books), Canada's Copyright Board should be lauded for this decision.

On the other hand, this is the same Copyright Board that adds "Assumed Piracy" fees to audio cassettes, CDs, MiniDiscs, and now MP3 players, so maybe it all evens out in the end. As noted in our coverage of this issue earlier today, we are very much against this "solution" for piracy.