Education News – New tax could hinder campus radio, podcasters

Tariff 22 aims to tax websites who use licensed media

WINNIPEG (CUP) — The Copyright Board of Canada is considering a law that would tax websites for distributing music and other media?a move that could be harmful for small-time podcasters and campus radio stations.

The tariff was introduced by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), and would only tax sites that distribute or use SOCAN-licensed material.

An earlier version of the tariff, which sought to tax Internet service providers, was rejected in 1995.

?SOCAN restructured the tariff by identifying an extensive list of online uses of music, including on-demand streaming, webcasting, music streaming on gaming sites, and other services that potentially include podcasting,” said Michael Giest, a University of Ottawa prof who holds a research chair in Internet and E-commerce law.

The legislation would tax sites 25 per cent of their gross revenue, or 25 per cent of their gross operating expenses, with a minimum monthly fee of $200.
Jared McKetiak, station manager at University of Manitoba’s 101.5 FM, says the Tariff is bad for campus radio.

?Last year we made $19,883.3, and giving up $5,000 (roughly 25 per cent) . . . stations need that money to survive,? he said. ?It’s going to get to a point where campus radio stations are going to have to close down because they cannot continue to do business, not because the cost of doing business is expensive, but because It’s getting taxed.?

The new tariff, if passed, will make it mandatory for people who communicate music to the public to have a licence for doing so. Mark Blevis, editor of Canadapodcast.ca, says even though this licence will be enforced, it will not affect people who podcast as a hobby.

?For those who have the budget, $200 a month is nothing, but for those who don’t, it is a lot of money,? said Blevis. ?It’s a little pricey for people who are doing this from their basement just because they love it.?

But Blevis believes the licence will have ?zero affect? on the podcasting community.

?People who are already established will continue their podcasts without the licence,? he said.

According to Blevis, SOCAN is taking a huge step. But he notes the tariff only takes into consideration performance rights, and ignores the mechanical rights and publishing rights that go along with using music.

?What this really shows is that SOCAN is ready to come to the table,? said Blevis. ?But right now, It’s lip service.?

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