The $75 iPod levy that will solve all of Canada's problems

Apparently it’s illegal in Canada to copy music from a CD you bought to an iPod (or whatever). It’s simply not allowed, even if you’re not breaking any DRM in the process. (In the U.S., it’s illegal to copy a DVD to your computer’s hard drive because you have to circumvent the copy protection in the process.) Solution? Some sort of levy, which would ensure that “artists” make money even though you’re not re-buying their music.

The deal now is that an MP up there wants to introduce a CAN$75 “iPod levy” that would effectively legalize copying music from a CD you bought to your iPod. The levy has just been proposed, but if the Canadian legislature is anything like its American counterpart it’s going to be a little while before anyone even raises the issue again.

The idea of a levy isn’t new, per se—there’s already a levy on blank media (CD-Rs and the like) that supposedly help to make sure that “artists” get paid. (My hunch is that it goes right back to the record label’s coffers, but whatever.) Granted, you could be buying blank media to backup your PowerPoint presentation, so it’s not a 100 percent fool-proof thing, but it neatly solves the problem in a way that prevents people from having to re-think the entire concept of copyright in the 21st century.

This so-called iPod levy could also negatively affect people who buy iPod but don’t put any music on them—people like me, for example. I have an iPod touch and I dare you to find one song on there. (I pretty much just use it for like 10 minutes a day to check before going to bed.) Why should I have to pay CAN$75, which is like US$4,000 these days, to subsidize other people’s habits?

Yes, I understand that the number of people who buy iPods and then don’t put any music on there is quite small, but I needed to fulfill my daily complaint quota.

Let’s turn it around, make it local to our fair American readers. Let’s say Congress, for whatever reason, creates and passes a law that says you’re 100 percent allowed to copy DVDs (legally bypassing the DRM) that you own to your hard drive, but that from now own all commercial DVDs come with a $10 tax on them to cover the “losses,” so to speak. Would you go for that?