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Monday, May 16, 2011

Canadian Photographers - Please Take a Stand

Today while reading one of my favourite tech-news sites (TechDirt.com) I came across a story about proposed levies and tariffs on digital media. Canadians will of course remember the taxes on blank media like CDs or VHS tapes, and you may or may not have been aware of the Copyright's Board last attempt to institute similar fees on iPods and even on ISPs.

Whether you remember of not, the Copyright Board is back trying to hawk a bill that will see fees (tariffs and levies...of course they aren't "taxes" right?) added to the sale of CF and SD cards, just in case someone wants to use them to store audio files.

In general, these are not things I write about in my photography blog, but today, I firmly believe it is time for visual artists to take a stand. Every tax or tariff added to media used in the photography industry sees our already reduced earnings reduced even more.

I am one of the most "non-political" people I know. I have little interest in following politics except in a general way, but I (like many other Canadians) have had enough. More than enough. On rare occasions I will write to my member of parliament, or to a local representative, and so today I have taken up my pen (well my keyboard actually) and written a resentful letter to Gilles McDougall (Secretary General, Ottawa) and given him the great benefit of my feelings about this.

Why should I have to pay a tax intended to support musicians, on a product whose primary use is the photography industry, not the music industry? Just because some one or two or a dozen people may choose to use those cards to store their music files on - this is not a supportable reason. Not in my books.

So, for all of you Canadian photographers (whether hobbyists, or professional or amateur) please, take the time to write Mr. McDougall with your feelings on being taxed (yet again) under the guise of a tariff to protect artists. The only artists this is intended to protect or support are musicians, and it is (according to the information provided) certainly not going to protect photographers or visual artists in any way.

Time to fight back.

Gilles McDougall - pdf on the proposed bill and contact information here.

A copy of my letter - if you are not inclined to actually write your own, please...feel free to copy mine and sign your own name.:

Dear Sirs:

As a photographer and a member of the Canadian public - I have had just about enough tax on items such as this. These taxes affect my livelihood.
What purpose would these levies serve, except perhaps to mark the users of such cards as possible thieves and pirates? Shall we slink out of the stores with our items in plain paper bags, just in case someone might think we are using our cards for illicit purposes?
I am tired of being considered a possible thief,  when these items are of prime importance to my work. 
Since you expect to collect earnings in the protection of artist copyrights, will I receive some of these benefits? After all, I am an artist. If so, how? Rather than taking money out of my small earnings as a photographer, it would be pleasant to see money refunded to me. I would appreciate knowing how the collection and disbursement of these funds will benefit me, as an artist. 
Having read your PDF, of course I note there is NO provision for visual artists. Thank you, but I absolutely refuse to support this. You are intending to apply a fee to a product used in the photography industry - where is our share of these fees? 
According to your PDF, this is for the proposed sale of "blank audio media in Canada". Compact Flash and SD cards are used primarily for photography and digital visual media, so please help me understand how this ever became an issue under the proposed bill for audio media? And further explain why I should pay additional fees of MY form of media storage in order to protect musicians? I refuse. Point blank. 
Do I oppose this proposed bill - you betcha, with every ounce of my being. Enough is more than enough. We do not need, nor do we want this since the chances of it even being remotely effective or helpful to photographers and digital artists hasn't got a snowball's chance in you-know-where. Oh, of course. I forgot, we as artists do not count. 
J. Gracey Stinson
Orillia, Ontario
and still Canada, hopefully

Orillia Travel - Slices of Life
Photography of Grace, the artistry of life