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Piracy “Taxes”

June 25th, 2008

News of Spain:

Spanish consumers will from July 1 pay a special anti-piracy tax on all new gadgets capable of recording, copying or storing sound and images.

The tax, known as the “digital canon”, arrives 18 months after its scheduled date following sometimes-angry debate between collecting societies and gadget manufacturers.

This is nothing new, but is a reminder of how powerful the studios’ lobbies are. Think about it: everyone is charged an official tax to pay for crimes they don’t commit. Who else gets this kind of subsidy from the government? Shops and stores may raise their own prices to offset shoplifting, but do they ask the government to add a surcharge to sales tax which goes to “compensate” them? So why don’t the music labels simply do what the shops do, and raise the price of their products?

What’s worse, the “cost” of piracy is not measured and may not even be real; what this is may be little more than a private tax enforced by government fiat. Like oil refineries claiming that people are siphoning fuel from their tanks in a way they cannot measure or detect, so the government adds a tax to car purchases to compensate them.

Incredible, but it’s becoming a trend to have such “taxes” to benefit the “artists” for an imagined and undefined loss, charging consumers for a crime they may well not commit before they even have the means to commit this crime.

If such a tax is imposed on me, I will seriously consider seeing it as a license–prepaid–to pirate an amount of music equal to the tax charged. I will have paid for it, so I could consider it perfectly legal to get value for what I have been charged.

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  1. Stuart
    June 25th, 2008 at 10:56 | #1

    As I was reading this, I was about to make a snarky comment about this tax making it legal to pirate, but then I see you had the same thought!

  2. June 25th, 2008 at 18:32 | #2

    Yes. It sounds as if that tax coerces one into piracy!

  3. June 25th, 2008 at 23:23 | #3

    furthermore, smart pirates, like myself, know that those devices are often marked up in price to begin with. therefore we ask for/demand for discounts. I’ve purchased 4 ipods(of various types), 2 cd players(back in the day), and multiple computers all of which i have received about 1000 dollars of discounts(total roughly added). Therefore i guarentee you that the consumers will not be paying this tax in many cases. the store will have to eat it. or the sales clerk getting the commission.
    also, here in japan, many people listen to music on their phones now. are they going to tax phones? and pda’s? and computers? and usb devices? and wireless routers? and sd cards? and portable HDD? and blank cds/dvds? where does the insanity end? all of the above i may or may not have used in the acquisition of booty. offer a better way to obtain media and pirating will end. almost guaranteed. itunes ain’t hurting.

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