Harper Government blocks new fees on memory cards

Ottawa – Canada’s decade old media levy just got an exemption from Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry.

The levy which got high tech vendors, solution providers and retailers up in arms back in 2002, received an exemption for microSD memory cards from levies under the private copying regime.

Back in 2002, channel stakeholders considered dropping MP3 players, digital cameras and CD/DVD media if a recording industry-backed media levy is ratified, according to the Canadian Coalition for Fair Digital Access (CCFDA). Nothing came of the threat. The CCFDA was created by the Retail Council of Canada and consists of vendors such as AMD, Apple, Creative Labs, Hewlett-Packard Canada, Motorola Canada, Sony Canada, and Intel Canada. The group also has prominent retailers such as Best Buy/Future Shop, Costco, Radio Shack, London Drugs, and Staples/Business Depot. announced the exemption of microSD memory cards from levies under the private copying regime.

Minister Paradis said the Government is committed to building a strong and vibrant Canadian digital economy and the wide-spread adoption of digital technology is the foundation upon which it will be built. “To extend a levy to one of the technologies that underpins this increased engagement, adoption and growth just does not make sense,” he added.

MicroSD cards are removable memory devices commonly used in mobile devices, such as smart phones, to store pictures, music and other information. On October 18, 2012, the Governor-in-Council made regulations to specifically exclude microSD cards from the private copying levy regime. Under this regime manufacturers and exporters must pay levies, as established by the Copyright Board, on sales of blank audio recording media not destined for the export market.

Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO of the Retail Council of Canada, welcomed the news saying the government acted quickly to bring the new regulations into force. “These measures will ultimately save Canadians money and protect consumers from paying an unwarranted and unnecessary tax,” she said.

Even Research in Motion, praised the action. Morgan Elliott, RIM director of government relations, said levies of this nature do not benefit consumers, and have the potential to interfere with future innovation.

“Through the Copyright Modernization Act, our Government delivered a modern and responsive copyright regime that ensures consumer and user rights, while giving creators the tools to protect their work and grow their businesses,” added Minister Paradis. “Any measure that inhibits the adoption of new technologies, as these proposed fees would, is simply incompatible with supporting our growing digital economy.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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