Canadians love their Freeconomy


Angus Reid has an interesting poll out today: Even as various online content-providers are taking an increasingly hard look at swtiching to a subscription or other sort of pay model, the Canadian people are asserting their right to do what comes natural on the internet:

In the online survey of a representative national sample, nearly half of respondents (45 per cent) say those who use peer-to-peer file sharing services to download music and movies are “just regular Internet users doing what people should be able to do on the Internet.” An additional 27 per cent admit these people are “doing something they shouldn’t be doing” but say “it’s not a big deal.”

In contrast, only three per cent agree with what has often been the music industry’s position that file sharers “are criminals who should be punished by law.” As for an appropriate remedy, one quarter of Canadians (25 per cent) feel that “technology should be developed to stop this.”

The survey also indicates that an attempt to recoup lost revenues by imposing a levy on ISPs would meet stiff resistance. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of online Canadians believe such a levy would represent “an inappropriate and/or unnecessary levy that would be passed down to consumers.

Business passing costs on to consumers — heavens! That’s no way to run a freeconomy.


Canadians love their Freeconomy

  1. It is indeed bothersome that 45% of respondents support theft.
    But that in no way justifies the levy (like on blank CDs) I must pay to fill the coffers of someone I am not stealing from, only because other blank CD buyers might. That, too, is theft.
    There is a chance I will buy a house around the corner and convert it to a grow-op. Naturally, I would wire the electricity around and not through the meter to avoid paying for all the power I will drain from the grid. That chance? Pretty close to zero. Guess there should be a special levy of 50 bucks a year for every homeowner and tenant, then, eh?
    Find a better way to protect your product, or find a better way to raise revenue while you let it out for free. But don’t charge me for something I ain’t doing.

    • myl, in all honesty, when did you last purchase a blank cd for which you complain (50 pack for $34.99 at Can Tire- I’m sure there are cheaper ones available)?

      And you are of course aware that radio stations, as far as I know, don’t pay for broadcasting music. Do you ever listen to music on the radio? If you do, I’m sure I can find a suitable charity where you can donate whatever compensation you deem fit. What’s it worth to you per song heard?

      Would it be allowable in your mind if I was to record music from my digital radio receiver?

      • Actually, I’m pretty sure commercial radio pays a tariff set by the copyright board in order to play music.

          • I double checked and there is indeed a commercial tariff for commercial radio in Canada, which can be found at the Copyright Board or the Socan websites. Although I don’t know the details of the plan proposed in your article, it does mention that radio stations already pay royalties for their music, which I suspect is much the same thing.

      • Well, ok Dot. Send fifty bucks a year to your electric utility for every residence you own or rent. It’s a pittance compared to the actual price paid to acquire the residence. And somebody’s gonna steal power from them for their home, possibly one not unlike the one you live in right now. Sure the utility has done nothing to deserve that cash from you, but it’s small potatoes, just like the levy-for artists on the stack of CDs you’re picking up with the Canadian Tire Money you emptied from the donation bin at the store exit when no one was looking. So what’s the problem?
        You ask:
        Would it be allowable in your mind if I was to record music from my digital radio receiver?
        What’s in my mind is irrelevant. What’s in the law, and in the contract you signed with the digital audio provider, and in your own conscience, matter far more.
        You also ask about music over the radio.
        I will let that one be for now because I am under the impression fees are paid according to playlist surveys, etc.

        • Electric utility – Ontario will have smart meters (digital Time of Use) meters on every household by 2010. So, if someone is grabbing free juice, it soon won’t be hard to figure out where. Other provinces will follow suit soon. And btw, before you come up with some hair brained explanation that we have to pay for new meters just to detect the thiefs, the actual reason is for load shifting- ie if you turn on your dishwasher during peak load times, you pay more because it costs more in installed capacity to meet your demands.

          Stealing Can Tire money? Is that the best you can come up with?

          You ignored my q on when you last bought cds, so I assume you can’t remember, it was so long ago.- or you never did -but it fits your schtick so you ran with it.

          As far as new technologies, consider upgrading. The record appears to be broken.

          • You ignored my q on when you last bought cds, so I assume you can’t remember…
            What is this, this CD you speak of?
            Do you mean there is something besides this lightning-fast cassette player hooked up to my Commodore 64? Can you believe it? Sixty-four! Wow. Such a big number. Ah, progress…

          • You are seven short of an 8 track mind.

          • Hey, how’d you know there’s only one working track left on this Lawrence Welk Greatest Hits cartridge? Ah well, at least I rest easy knowing I paid for it. Fifty cents per pound from the surprise bag at the Sally Ann! Can you imagine? Wotta deal!

      • Also, you can buy 100 DVDs (a combined storage capacity of 400+ gigabytes) for just $22.99 at Wal-Mart. Very few file sharers use CDs anymore. Any levy on blank CDs is completely ineffective and obsolete.

        • A shoutout to anyone in the know: is it really just CDs? I thought everything from SD cards to USB memory keys to MP3 players to portable hard drives fell under the spell, but maybe I am confusing the sort of debate held at the time with the actual law. Anyone?

          • It’s not just CDs, myl. As I understand it, the levy is applied to any medium on which copyrighted material can be recorded.
            I generally prefer to pay for the music I listen to because if I don’t, it’s the artists I claim to like and support who are most likely to be forced to absorb the loss, but that’s the ethical issue. The legal question to be asked of the companies is, how do you legitimately make the argument that you are not getting paid when you are, in fact, getting paid?

          • Actually, there is no tax for other storage media as far as I know. They were at one time pushing for a tax to be added to digital music players and other storage devices (nicknamed the iPod tax), but it was never created….

      • Yes they do, Dot, and more than just commercial stations, too. Not for profit stations do as well.

  2. Mental exercise:

    1. what was the cost of a CD/DVD 20 years ago? And what was the cost of production (DAT recorder, burner, media)
    2. What is the current cost of a CD/DVD today? And what is the current cost of production?

    The problem facing the digital media industry is that 20 years ago, the availability of this technology to the average consumer was scarce, and no one really knew what was involved.

    Now, everyone knows what technology is involved. Everyone can buy the appropriate software. And most importantly everyone knows how much it costs.

    So the consumer thinks: “Hmmm…20 years ago this CD was $25, and the equipment alone cost about $20K, and now the CD costs 50% less. Funny thing is that technology is 0.01% of the original cost.”

    Consumers can guess how much it costs to make a CD/DVD. Unless the industry can come up with a valid argument for the amount they charge per CD or DVD or adjust their pricing accordingly, this kind of thing will continue unabated and people will continue to have this complacent attitude.

    • Austin, your mental exercise is a very sobering commentary on people. It also neglects that the bulk of the “cost” built-in to the CD is not the cost of making the CD, but rather the cost of making the specific alignment of ones and zeros etched onto the CD for music entertainment or pictures or software.
      Informed consumer does a “mental exercise” on the price of a good, and arrives at two choices.
      Choice One
      I am not prepared to pay that price, so I will not buy it.
      Choice Two
      I am not prepared to pay that price, so I will steal it.
      Austin, please do not blame the victim of theft in justifying the choice made by the thief.

      • Austin, your mental exercise is a very sobering commentary on people

        Yes I suppose it is.

        But it is also a very sobering comment on business, isn’t it? Because the artists that provide the music are paid as a % of sales. Twenty years ago, the cost of production was maybe two orders of magnitude higher. Despite the fact that the cost of production has plummeted, artists are paid exactly the same. Pricing stays the same, so where does all the money go?

        Not only that, but in the music industry, for example, artists are signed onto contracts which are impossible to fulfill in order to sustain this business model.

        It also neglects that the bulk of the “cost” built-in to the CD is not the cost of making the CD, but rather the cost of making the specific alignment of ones and zeros etched onto the CD for music entertainment or pictures or software.

        Yes. That is now. Not twenty years ago when the whole cost structure was developed for digital media.

        Look, I’m just saying when there is such an obvious disconnect between media pricing and the cost of technology, people are going to find ways to “level the playing field”.

        I’m a strong advocate of artists bypassing media companies altogether, and actually earning the money they deserve for the work they produce. Technology has reached a point of accessibility where this is possible. And this is precisely the reason why these companies are all going down the tube.

        • maybe two orders of magnitude higher

          Hmmm…missing a couple o’ orders of magnitude here…

    • But surely this only applies to the making of a CD with no content, after its created but before its marketed to the public. It’s like charting the price of cotton when considering an official replica sports jersey. It’s an important factor but not the only factor.

  3. To add another interesting wrinkle – some (possibly all?) aspects of filesharing copyright materials might not be illegal (it’s not theft, for example, rather the transgressions and penalties are only those available under the Copyright Act). The government twice drafted legislation to specifically make it illegal, but I think the bill was never passed.

    • Where’s Michael Geist when you really need him?

  4. Mr. Potter, you’re not solving the right problem. To put it simply, if half of Canada doesn’t want to give your business money, you’re in the wrong business.

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