I find it difficult to shed too many tears for music stars with six-figure incomes and their supposed losses due to Internet music (“FreeMusic,” Cover, March 20). This is particularly the case with Canadian artists who are guaranteed 35-per-cent Canadian content on the airwaves. Additionally, the copyright board of Canada has imposed levies of 23 cents on blank cassettes and
61 cents on blank CDs. This is supposed to raise $9 million to be distributed to Canadian artists. With newrelease CDs costing upwards of $20 or more, the obvious solution would be to reduce the price. The underground economy exists when prices or taxes make a product unaffordable to the average consumer. It may be of interest to
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note that in 1992, the United States enacted the Audio Home Recording Act. In contrast to Canada, the Americans imposed a two-per-cent tax on the wholesale price of digital recording devices, as they deemed personal copying insignificant compared with digital copying by professional pirates.
Bob Zinck, Halifax
Part of the problem with free music available over the Internet, you state, is that recording artists and companies are losing money. Though I feel for new artists looking for a break, trying to conjure up the readers sympathy for multimillionaires seems strange. The problem is not the free music. The problem is the greed of the already-rich artists who have everything, but feel they deserve more.
Kaitlyn Notwell, Terrace Bay, Ont.
I happen to be a regular user of Napster, though I rarely find what I want. Sure, you can log on and find mainstream music on the site, download it and burn a CD of it. But anyone who wants to illegally burn a copy of a mainstream album would more likely borrow the original CD, as it will be un-encoded and better quality. Napster’s value lies in its ability to spread music quickly: a new album comes out and you can hear it almost immediately. But the quality is usually poor and the chances of finding the whole album even worse. The real threat to the music industry lies in the currently unconventional FTP (file transfer protocol) server. This is the way I and many others exchange music.
John Zimmerman, Victoria
In your otherwise excellent article on the growth of the MP3 music scene, you neglected to mention that mp3.com does pay its artists. Since last
The spoils of war
You state that while moderates like Saudi Arabia support stabilizing prices, Iran and Kuwait have no plans to increase production levels (“How high will gas prices go?” Money, March 20). Excuse me? Would that be the same Kuwait that the Western nations saved from the clutches of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein? Seems to me that Kuwait needs a lesson in gratitude.
Clifford M. King, Clementsport, N.S.
August, it has dropped $200,000 (U.S.) per month paying artists based on the number of free downloads they garnered. This is a crucial point. Our comedy troupe, Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie, made $750 over the past three months from worldwide downloads of our songs and sketches, as well as from people who bought our CD online-— and that’s a lot more than we have ever made from radio royalties or record stores. Letting people download music for free doesn’t have to mean the artist gets ripped off. Ten years back, when we were looking for a record deal, no one thought we could find an audience. Now, I’m glad they passed on us. We own our music, we share it with our audience for free and we still make money. Wes Borg, Edmonton
Day in, Day out
Stockwell Day, Alberta’s aging boomer treasurer, has decided to strut his way to the next photo-op on the national stage (“The dawn of Day,” Canada, March 20). Poor Stock, he has neither real style nor substance, and suffers from chronic religious right-wing foot-in-mouth disease. Day required no financial skills to present an Alberta budget bursting with petro-dollars. As for his flat-tax initiative, it is so regressive even the rabid tax-cutting politicians of our southern neighbour reject it as an option. The Alberta government’s budget shows if the proposed flat tax was implemented for the 2001 taxation year, someone earning $30,000 would have to pay $28 more in provincial income tax, while a person earning
$100,000 would pay $1,285 less than current levels. Day will find that redneck beliefs and draconian fiscal policies don’t fly well beyond Alberta. Loraine Pelletier, Calgary
There is no room on the right for the Canadian Alliance, no matter who heads it. The Chrétien Liberals have already moved into the conservative end of the political spectrum as far as the electorate wants them to go. Western fundamentalists like Stockwell Day, trumpeting outworn shibboleths against abortion and homosexuals, are simply not going to appeal to us Ontario voters. The big opportunity for political power is on the left. People who took the time to listen to U.S. President Bill Clinton’s magnificent state of the union address got a glimpse of our future: it is multiracial, multi-caring, highly individualistic and heavily networked. We are likely to see a new type of democratic socialism move into the vacuum created by conservative Liberals. It may not work. I expect the Chrétienists will respond with a broadening of their goodwill agenda. The Prime Minister says he is settling in for the long haul. And why not?
George Mowbray, Toronto
Allan Fotheringham juxtaposes his usual colloquial prose with A. E. Housman’s poem “To an Athlete Dying Young” (“Of poets and thugs,” March 20). I have to question his assumption that the poem is relevant to his text, which as best as I can tell, after wading through the pointless digressions, offers yet another two cents’ worth of opinion on the recent hockey stick over the head incident. The obvious application of the poem to contemporary professional sports would be as consolation for athletes whose careers have been cut short by death (Gilles Villeneuve), or perhaps injury (Bobby Orr). The narrator says the equivalent of, “At least you were never seen at anything but your best; at least you did not have to grow old and
weak and walk down Yonge Street without having scores of people recognize you.” Fotheringham should listen more closely to “his favourite poet of all time” to avoid quoting him out of context. Thomas Abray, Outremont, Que.
The Amiel challenge
I have always enjoyed Barbara Amiel’s thought-provoking columns in Macleans, and “On being ‘right wing’ ” was exemplary (March 20). Even when I don’t agree with her, she challenges her readers to think for themselves.
Bryan Young, London, Ont.
1 appreciate Barbara Amiel’s candour, and ability to spot hypocrisy. The overwhelming sense with which I leave Amiel’s column is let’s look at ourselves before we judge. While this view may not lend itself to short-term solutions, it does suggest compassion, perspective and a level playing field for all. (My God! She’s been a communist all these years?) Brian Lindgreen, Vancouver
Although I am often shocked by Barbara Amiel’s bold views, it may be only because my ear is so used to the voices espousing the popular agenda that to hear something contrary is indeed bracing. Even those who do not agree with Amiel should see her as a gift to our time. If it weren’t for voices like hers, we could be in danger of another mass hypnosis and find ourselves well down the path to the next holocaust.
Doug Schroeder, Calgary
Barbara Amiel writes the reason she is called right wing “is only because the spirit of our times is left wing and most of our elites, including the media, are imbued with this spirit.” What elites? Millionaire rock stars? Bill Gates? Mike Harris and Paul Martin? Commies one and all! I’ll believe the media is “imbued with a left-wing spirit” when the National Posthas a labour section and CTV News a workers’ report before its cheerleading for e-trading and mutual funds. Bart Kalnay, Toronto
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