CCFDA Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access


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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a private copy levy?

    A: The private copy levy is a hidden charge that is imposed on blank recording media. Currently the charge raises the price of data CDs by 21 cents and raises the price of audio CD-Rs and CD-RWs by 77 cents.


Q: Who pays these levies?

    A: Importers and manufacturers of blank recording media are required to pay the levies on blank recording media sold in Canada. These costs are passed on directly at the cash register to Canadian consumers and businesses buying these products.


Q: What types of blank recording media are currently subject to the copyright levy?

    A: Currently the levy is imposed on:
    • Analog cassette tapes
    • MiniDiscs
    • CD-Rs and CD-RWs (audio and data)
    • Digital audio recorders (this includes MP3 players)


      Levy Amount

      Audio Cassette
      29 cents
      CD-R or CD-RW
      21 cents
      CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio, or MiniDisc 77 cents
      77 cents
      Non-removable memory permanently embedded in A digital audio recorder - no more than 1GB
      2 Dollars
      Non-removable memory permanently embedded in A digital audio recorder - more than 1GB, no more than 10GB
      15 Dollars
      Non-removable memory permanently embedded in A digital audio recorder - more than 10GB
      25 Dollars

      Source: Copyright Board of Canada

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Q: Who do we contact to ask that the levy be repealed?

    A. CCFDA members believe that the legislation itself is fundamentally flawed and that efforts need to be directed at repealing the existing law. Accordingly, we encourage all those concerned to send comments directly sent directly to their Members of Parliament or to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in the House of Commons. Concerned individuals may also wish to write or email Ministers responsible for the Copyright Act (the HON. David Emerson, Minister of Industry and the HON. Liza Frulla, Minister of Canadian Heritage) and their officials. The Copyright Board cannot repeal the legislation.

    Parliament was asked by the Minister of Industry to review the private copying provisions of the Copyright Act to determine whether there might be adverse effects on stakeholders arising from the application of the regime in a digital environment. This was referred, by the Speaker of the House of Commons, to the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, which launched its review on September 23, 2003. This review was completed at the end of the last Parliament and will be re-examined in the fall of 2004. Opponents of the regime should make their views known to their Member of Parliament as well as to the Chair of the Standing Committee for Canadian Heritage in the House of Commons.

Q: How many CD’s sold every year are actually used for home recording?

    A: Even according to music industry estimates, less than half (44 million) of the nearly 100 million blank CD’s sold each year, are likely to be used for home recording. This means, even if one accepts the music industry estimates as valid, that millions of dollars each year are taken from consumers and businesses who are not even using CD’s to copy music.

Q: Who decides what the levies will be applied to, and how much they will cost consumers?

    A: The Canadian Copyright Board, an independent federal tribunal, in response to an application by the Canadian Private Copying Collective, which represents the music industry and organizations such as SOCAN (Society of Composers Authors and Music Publishers of Canada). The government cannot adjust the rates, since the responsibility rests on the Copyright Board. The government can however, repeal the legislation.

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Q:  Where do the levies go?

    A: The levies are collected by the Canadian Private Copying Collective (CPCC), which is responsible for distributing the money to organizations representing record companies, producers, and others who own the rights to copyrighted material. Since the regime was established in December 1999, the CPCC has collected over $87 million in levies. According to the CPCC's website, however, copyright holders have only received $26 million to date.

Q: What are the problems with the levy system?

    A: In addition to costing businesses and consumers millions of dollars each year, the system is fundamentally flawed and outdated.

    • It is indiscriminate and unfair-all Canadians who purchase blank audio recording media must pay the levy even if they are not recording copyrighted music.
    • It is inefficient and non-transparent, leaving questions about how much of the money collected goes toward its administration, rather than to rights holders.
    • The private copying provisions in existing legislation under the Copyright Act are so broad that products, which serve many purposes other than recording copyrighted music, have levies applied to them.

Q: What are the solutions?

    A: Alternatives to the levy system exist. There are new technologies and distribution models already available that can provide music creators with the means to protect their own content while ensuring fair compensation. The levy regime acts as a crutch. As long as it remains unchanged, there will be no incentive for the music industry to adapt to the realities of the digital age. Members of our coalition are ready to work together with the music industry and government in order to seek new approaches that work for consumers, while, at the same time, providing fair compensation to copyright holders.


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