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Setting the record straight on tariffs

    In response to the October 27, 2003, Newsmaker on Michael Geist written by Declan McCullagh, "Cyberpiracy north of the border":

    Let's set the record straight.

    The money collected does get to the artists. It's an important revenue stream during a period when artist revenue is diminishing through private copying. Distribution of the $54.4 million available from the levy's first three years began earlier this year, with an initial $10 million dispensed so far in 2003.

    The initial tariff was not focused on analogue cassettes. From the beginning the tariff also applied to recordable CDs and MiniDiscs.

    Software manufacturers are not subsidizing file-sharing. In 1999, a "zero-rating" program was established to permit media otherwise subject to private copying royalties to be purchased royalty free. The program has now been expanded to permit recordable CDs to be purchased royalty free. Participation in the program is open to any registered business, institution or nonprofit organization, including small businesses in the software industry or any industry.

    The Canadian Private Copying Collective has never applied its tariff retroactively. It's also nonsense to claim that it might be held up until 2008 or 2010. Appeals of the tariff do not interfere with its collection.

    The levy's effect on retailers is minimal. Retailers receive fair compensation for blank media and hardware because their prices are determined by the market. However, the demand for CD burners, CD-Rs, blank media or equipment used in private copying is fueled by the desire for music content. Without the private copying royalties, music creators would get nothing in return for the billion tracks of music copied without authorization each year.

    Claudette Fortier
    Montreal