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Add tax to hard drives and mp3 players: actors

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djussila Posted: Tue, Nov 16 2010 10:51 PM

By Jennifer Ditchburn, The Canadian Press


OTTAWA - A handful of Canadian actors slipped into the role of government lobbyist Tuesday, roaming Parliament Hill to press politicians on concerns they have about a copyright bill.

Familiar faces such as Peter Keleghan of CBC's "18 to Life" and Eric Peterson of "Corner Gas," both members of the ACTRA union, say Bill C-32 gives too much leeway to consumers, schools and Internet Service Providers at the expense of creators.

They would like to see a levy applied to blank recordable devices such as hard drives and mp3 players, in the same way that consumers pay a levy on blank CDs and cassettes. The money collected currently goes back to creators through a collective and ACTRA is proposing the same system.

The levy would range from $2 to $25, depending on the size of the recordable device.

"Our message is simple: if content is free today, it will be gone tomorrow. If we are to keep producing films, TV programs, video games, music and books, we can't afford to rip millions of dollars from creators pockets," said actor Ferne Downey, ACTRA's national president.

Heritage Minister James Moore has been unequivocal in his opposition to a levy, saying the Conservative government will not support a new tax. The NDP has backed the levy idea.

ACTRA is also unhappy with a provision in the bill that gives educational institutions wider exemptions from copyright rules when they use and reproduce material for classes.

Other groups, including the Documentary Organization of Canada, publishers, authors and other license-holders associated with Access Copyright, have also come out against the idea of allowing educators wider access to copyrighted material.

"We pay the full cost of desks and teachers, why would we then turn around and copy material for use in the classroom for free?" said actor Wendy Crewson, seen recently in episodes of "The Bridge" and "Regenesis."

"If we don't pay the people who produce textbooks our Canadian publishing industry would be gutted."

The actors' position on so-called "mash-ups" is not necessarily shared by other groups.

The government carved out an exemption for Canadians who might sliced together publicly available material and create something for non-commercial purposes — a YouTube video for example.

ACTRA opposes the exemption, saying artists should be asked before their material is used.

But the Documentary Organization of Canada says it's more of a grey area within its membership, where some creators are involved in putting together mash-ups themselves.

Bill C-32 is the Conservative government's second attempt at copyright legislation, after the previous Liberal government failed to succeed in modernizing the laws. The process is plagued by conflicting interests, from consumers who want unhindered access, to creators who want to be paid for their work, and to corporations who would like stricter controls on access to their products.

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Bert replied on Tue, Nov 16 2010 11:30 PM

if content is free today, it will be gone tomorrow

If content is free today, it will be exponentially produced tomorrow at little to no cost.

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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MaikU replied on Wed, Nov 17 2010 9:00 AM

Same shit is happening in my country too. Though, law hadn't passed yet... but it's a question of time. Anyway, I like the appeal to "artists". It forgets unsigned artists, who has nothing to do with government money.

"Dude... Roderick Long is the most anarchisty anarchist that has ever anarchisted!" - Evilsceptic

(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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Kakugo replied on Wed, Nov 17 2010 12:17 PM

It's fun to see all these "media personalities" (now with SuperShill Action) whine and whimper like their livelihood is impaired by a teenager downloading music from the Internet. How will they able to buy their third villa in Antigua if the government doesn't step in? cheeky

Together we go unsung... together we go down with our people
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