Made the mistake of checking technorati before going to bed… Bad idea…
Brightblue brought the Puretracks [Google news search] launch to my attention this morning. It is a new online music store containing songs licensed for sale in Canada.
We knew it was coming… The corollary is the CRIA press release on the licensing deal.
Frank asks: « What does this mean for all the fees collected on Canadian recording media? ». He’s not alone asking.
At the Ottawa Symposium, the counsel for CRIA refuted allegation that sums perceived through the tariff were not redistributed. (I’ll try to find the exact moment in the video and update this later). This is touchy subject as many labels and artists feel they are not getting their cut.
The tariff is meant to compensate for private copying. That is, copying in certain circumstances without a specific licence to do so. If I read correctly (I can’t try the Puretracks service for myself right now) Puretracks allows a user to burn a file 3 times to a CD and transfer (I assume they mean copy) a file an unlimited number of times to a portable device. Interestingly, files can be downloaded twice and you can apparently backup and restore the licence file that your computer uses to manage the DRM restrictions.
If I burn a Puretrack file to a CD-R, I’m using the blank media for a purpose that was not considered when the tariff was put in place: I’m using a CD-R to create an audio cd (or a MP3 cd) filled with licensed music. If the use of such systems becomes widespread, we could reasonably expect a reduction in the tariff for CD-R, since a lower percentage of total CD-R sales will be used for private copying purposes and since songs sold online can’t be privately copied due to DRM. Or we could aim for a more realistic goal: avoid including portable devices in the tariffed goods since most of the portable players have some sort of DRM built-in to shape their practical uses and consumers owning those devices are more likely to be the main users of online music stores.
Should the tariff be abolished? Should I get a refund for the 100 CDs spindle sitting on my desk waiting for the backup announcing the installation of yet another big cat? (Well yes, of course!)
I certainly feel the levy reduction argument should be brought to the table during the debate on future modifications of the tariff. I would guess the strength of that argument will depend on the success of online music stores, the perception of the usage that is made of such music (portable devices, PC-based listening, CD burning, DRM hacking, etc.) and public awareness of the success and the amounts of money collected under the current tariff. Similarly, the introduction of copy-protected/broken CDs that impede private copying should be taken into account also as these CDs can’t be copied and therefore shouldn’t benefit from the tariff. This logic actually applies to DRM protected files too, as noted above.
Considering all the debates on collective licensing, I believe the private copying regime is a valuable tool that should not be abolished, but it must be able to adjust itself to the current situation.