Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More associations demanding new Internet taxes

A couple of weeks ago, ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA), the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) and the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) issued a news release claiming that Canadians wanted the federal government to require all Canadian Internet service providers (ISPs) and wireless service providers (WSPs) to pay money "to help fund the production of Canadian digital media content."

This request for what is essentially a new tax was said to be supported by a poll commissioned by the four groups that issued the news release. You'd have to take their word for it though, as they chose not to disclose the questions asked in the poll. Presumably, those four groups think that they should be -- at the very least -- among the recipients of the proceeds of this new tax, although they don't go into any specifics about what kind of levy they want and where the funds would go (and this complete lack of detail makes their whole claim of a poll supporting their proposal hard to take seriously). According to Michael Geist, the associations are asking for a levy of 2.5% of all broadband revenues, which works out to about $10-20 a year added to the bills of every broadband customer.

A lot of us create "digital media content" -- including this blog post -- but somehow I suspect that ACTRA, et al, won't be recommending that proceeds from their proposed tax be shared with us. Obviously, no one at these associations cares a whit about my website or your blog, or about 99+ percent of the content on the web, which is created with no input from members of any of their groups.

Most content creators wouldn't have a prayer of seeing a penny of this money, so where would it go, exactly? And what's the justification for demanding a government handout for content that creators have either chosen to make available on the web (like this blog) or have been paid to create (such as streaming video on ctv.ca)?

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