You’re a Thief

At least, that’s what the music industry believes. They’ve organized into a group calling themselves the CPCC, or Canadian Private Copying Collective (http://www.cpcc.ca/English/english.html), and have already successfully lobbied the government to change the Copyright Act so that they can claim fees on blank cassette tapes, CD-R/RWs, and removable hard drives. Now they’re attempting to get the fees raised and extended (http://www.sycorp.com/levy/index.htm) to things like the amount of memory in MP3 players and DVD-RW discs.

The CPCC argues that this levy is only fairly compensating them for illegal copying of music. They suggest that about half the time when music is copied it is done by people who do not own the original CD. The question that immediately rises is how do they know this? If they have evidence of a person copying music illegally, then perhaps instead of charging the law-abiding people, they should charge the person who is illegally copying. Of course, that doesn’t have such a positive affect on their bottom line as the current means.

Why the music industry deserves such special and arbitrary treatment is a mystery. After all, do retail stores collect a levy on baggy pants and trench coats, since those are often used in shoplifting? Do movie theatres get a cut from sales of popcorn sold in the grocery stores because people sneak into theatres with home-popped corn? Should credit card companies be paid a percentage by the telecommunications and internet provider industries because most credit card fraud is done using the phone or the internet?

CPCC suggests that they deserve this special treatment because “there is not now, and may never be, any way to find out what an individual actually copies”, yet somehow, the software industry has been dealing with this very situation for years and does not seem to be hurting by not receiving similar fees. This argument is similar to saying that if we have been unable to solve a crime, everybody should spend a day in jail for it.

As if that isn’t enough, the CPCC then goes on to say “People are generally creating their own compilations with their favourite tracks from many CDs. The CPCC believes the resulting custom-made CD is worth more than any single pre-recorded CD because it reflects the personal taste and the choices made by the copier. However, this extra value has not been taken into account in the amount of the levy proposed.” Or in other words, they’re being nice to us by not charging us extra money for any work we do to make CDs that we like more. How generous of them.

This is a completely ludicrous state of affairs. No other industry gets paid on the assumption of a crime, no other industry is allowed to charge everybody for their own misfortune, no other industry would have the gall to suggest that by adding value to a product we owe them something.

So what can you do? Contact your MP (http://www.gc.ca/directories/direct_e.html) and let them know how you feel the Copyright Act should not include this unfair subsidy to the music industry. You can also consider signing this petition (http://www.sycorp.com/petition.htm), and if you are lucky enough to be living in the area, you might consider making a formal submission and attendance at the Copyright Board’s preliminary hearing (http://www.cb-cda.gc.ca/new-e.html) on the matter on May 23, 2002.

Youth Crime in Canada

Youth Courts have been trying fewer cases over the last year. Statistics Canada’s new release (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/020321/d020321d.htm) on Youth Courts and Youth Crimes show that overall crime has dropped about 2 percent in the last year with drops in violent crimes and property damage cases. The report notes that drug related offences are up 29% though. Maybe we should stop worrying about drugs so much; it seems to keep them from doing anything worse.

Then again, maybe it’s all that music they’re stealing.

Unfortunately, these statistics don’t tell the whole story. In recent years there has been a growing trend by the public to demand that young offenders be tried as adults in cases involving violence. How much this public outcry has had effect, we don’t know. It could be that violent crime is actually on the rise among youths, but we’re passing more of them up to adult court for harsher sentencing.