Moore says he won’t bend on copyright levy

Clearly frustrated with ACTRA and other artists' groups public denunciation of his copyright law, Bill C-32, Heritage Minister James Moore suggested energy would be far better spent coming up with a realistic legislative proposal to protect creators.
Minister James Moore

Clearly frustrated with ACTRA and other artists’ groups public denunciation of his copyright law, Bill C-32, Heritage Minister James Moore suggested energy would be far better spent coming up with a realistic legislative proposal to protect creators.

“We agreed to five of the six recommendations that ACTRA made,” the Minister told Playback Daily in a telephone interview. But, the Minister added he will not bend to pressure from ACTRA or other lobby groups to extend the private copy levy to all storage media, a stance which may have political fall-out for the Conservatives in la belle province.

On Wednesday the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a motion criticizing Bill C-32 and calling for the application of the private copying levy.

“We don’t believe in imposing a tax on consumers. There is a problem with the whole concept of the private copying levy. We don’t think it’s appropriate to punish law abiding consumers. ACTRA has never presented us with a workable proposal. What they are calling for is taxes on laptops, iPhones, [etc.] There would be a tax on everything, it doesn’t make sense.”

In recent weeks ACTRA, the Writers Guild of Canada and DAMIC – a Quebec lobby group representing thirteen arts and culture groups – have undergone a public campaign to fight for changes to the controversial legislation, which has passed its second reading and is set to go before a legislative committee for further study later this month.

But Moore stands behind his law: “This bill is massively and overwhelming in favor of creators. It is a huge win for the creative class. The private copyright levy is a very small issue. This bill is a compromise. No one group is absolutely happy with it. Everyone wants more,” says the Minister.

“This law is about balance, which of course makes some people upset. I have a binder full of quotes of organizations which support this bill and I would think that even ACTRA would have to admit that we did agree with five out of six of the proposals they recommended.”

The head of the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA), Norm Bolen believes Bill C-32, at its fundamental level, protects creators rights.

“The important thing is that the Bill makes it clear that it’s wrong to steal people’s content,” says Bolen, adding that the private copying levy is not an option considered by the CMPA. “Our view is that the best way to ensure that creators are compensated is to make content easily available at a reasonable price.”

“We need to focus on commercializing our content, while recognizing that it’s a cultural product and has cultural value. We need to champion our content and market it and distribute it to international markets more effectively and make sure our terms of trade with broadcasters are fair,” says Bolen.

Bolen views iTunes or subscriber-based channels such as Movie Central as good models of how to satisfy consumers and protect creators.

“There’s lots of Canadian content on iTunes. It’s legal and safe and it’s not a hassle.”