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France To Tax the Internet To Pay For Music 209

Posted by timothy
from the but-accordians-are-cheap dept.
bs0d3 writes "A new tax in France is aimed at ISPs. The new government tax on ISPs is to help pay for the CNM (Centre National de la Musique). Already in France there is a tax on TV, to pay for public access channels. It's similar to the tax in the United kingdom which pays for the BBC. This ISP tax will be the musical equivalent to that. President Sarkozy comments, 'Globalization is now, and the giants of the internet earn lot of money on the French market. Good for them, but they do not pay a penny in tax to France.' This all began after the music industry accused French ISPs of making billions of dollars on their backs. Now the music industry must also get their hands in their pockets."
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France To Tax the Internet To Pay For Music

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  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:27PM (#38110838)
    Sounds like a corporation's wet dream, tax the peasants for private profits. Then they can use this money to try and convince other governments to do the same.
    • by Gerzel (240421) <brollyferret&gmail,com> on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:08PM (#38112754) Journal

      Aye. Though if this goes through and I were French I'd demand there be no more prosecuting bittorrents, or filesharers in France. Sharing music over the web in France logically should be free now as all French internet users have paid for it.

      • by itsme1234 (199680)

        "Demand"? You and which army?
        In Germany you pay some "copyright tax" for your fax (presumably because you COULD copy books with it?) but if you DO COPY books and they catch you're still liable for that infringement.

      • by ianare (1132971)

        Actually this anouncement was preceded by one strenghtening the existing anti-piracy laws (HADOPI). Currently, sites that stream movies or music without a license are of course illegal, but it is not illegal for a user to access these sites. The new law proposes the prosecution of internet users who visit such sites, and/or setting up a national blocking mechanism.

        Article in French [lemonde.fr]

        The problem is that these types of issues are very rarely discussed in France. Forget the national TV stations for obvious reaso

    • by Grishnakh (216268) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:09PM (#38113210)

      No kidding. People say America is a corporatist country, but even we don't do bullshit like this.

      • We don't? Than, what is that SOPA thing all about? Don't tell me that you think THAT battle is finished! They'll be back in mere months with a newer, sexier version, complete with a "Think of the children" soundbyte!

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Unless I missed some part of SOPA, I didn't think there were any levies or taxes involved, just some craziness about anyone claiming to be a copyright holder being allowed to force any website to be taken down by claiming it's distributing their copyrighted material.

          • "bullshit like this"

            I guess I assumed the "bullshit" to mean any insane laws meant to suck money out of the masses. In France's case, the government wants to suck the money, in SOPA's case, the government would allow the corporations to suck the money. All bullshit, really. SOPA, ACTA, DMCA, all of them are designed with the same goal in mind: to enrich the corporations, by milking the common man of pocket change, and/or punishing the common man with exorbitant penalties.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              Yeah, sorry, I didn't mean to imply we don't have any corporatist bullshit here in the US, we certainly do. Just not where you pay a tax on something that goes straight to a cartel to prop up its failing business model. Here, we just give them piles of money straight from the Treasury.

      • No kidding. People say America is a corporatist country, but even we don't do bullshit like this.

        Uh, we tax tobacco users to pay for children's healthcare (SCHIP). Perhaps you can tell me the connection there.

      • No kidding. People say America is a corporatist country, but even we don't do bullshit like this.

        Wait for it.

        I mean if they can get a government to agree to this even though they can't show any actual damages, we'll be doing that here soon.

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          I'm just shocked that they've done this successfully in Canada, and are now talking about it in France, but it didn't happen first in the USA, where the entertainment lobbies I thought were the strongest. Heck, our Vice President is a lackey for the MAFIAA.

      • No, we'd rather put the tax on blank CD's and give the Department of Justice to the Recording Industry so they are effectively a part of the government.
  • Oh good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:28PM (#38110842)
    This means that people will not be prosecuted or punished for downloading their music at no cost, right?
    • Re:Oh good (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ecorona (953223) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:54PM (#38111026)
      I'm pretty sure the music industry gets to tax us for private profits and prosecute us despite the tax. They're businesses and they will do whatever it takes to maximize profit. Right or wrong is not a variable in their equation.
      • Re:Oh good (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Cyberllama (113628) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:59PM (#38111044)

        The tax isn't to compensate the music industry for downloads, it's to compensate the french government (seriously) for taxes the music industry isn't paying.

        • by currently_awake (1248758) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @07:07PM (#38111562)
          Why would the french ISP's pay taxes on behalf of the music industry?
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Because the music industry wouldn't pay a penny. They are the "freeloaders" they accuse their clients of being.

            Note: You pay the tax even if you are deaf, and never listen to music. Or if you use the Internet and don't even use speakers with your computer and never download any music. This is a corrupt democracy's view of an ideal world.

        • by Gerzel (240421)

          Then why isn't the French government prosecuting the music industries or companies that sell music in France? Isn't there international action they can take? Or is this a case of companies not paying and the French unable to prosecute due to international boundaries?

    • of course not
      its to cover "fair use" and other things
      and if it doesnt work the law will be rewritten til it fits (and that's not sarcasm, just the way it is)

    • Re:Oh good (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cley Faye (1123605) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:26PM (#38112876) Homepage
      That would be a logical step, right ? wrong.

      A small summary about how the french government think it can help funding music (and art in general):
      - put tax on blank media, check (but the money don't go to artist)
      - put tax on internet subscription to fund movie industry, check (search for COSIP tax, but still not a penny for artists)
      - put another tax, again on internet subscription, to fund the music industry, in progress (guess who won't get anything from this? artists)

      For those that don't know, the fact that we're paying taxes on blank media doesn't mean we can use them to copy our own stuff, and taxes on internet subscriptions doesn't mean anything for both subscribers, and people behind music/movies. Only some cash stream for a few very poor corporations...
  • by icebike (68054) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:28PM (#38110844)

    After all, you've paid for it via your ISP, right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hey_popey (1285712)
      Fat chance: in France there's already have a tax on HDDs, memory cards and all types of blank media to pay for our right to a "private copy" of the music people purchased, but this does not authorize them to downloadâ¦
    • Well sure, the internet is for music!
  • Correction. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:29PM (#38110854) Homepage

    It is not a tax to see public channels it's a license fee to own and use a TV receiver.

    This also exists in other European countries like Sweden.

    • Re:Correction. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Teun (17872) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:39PM (#38110914) Homepage
      Indeed, this is not a tax.

      Such a levy on accessing TV and radio exists in most Western European countries and it pays for the national broadcasters.
      Something that's supported by a majority of the population in the bigger countries like the UK and Germany.

      When you don't have a TV or radio you don't pay.

      But this French proposal sounds differently, you pay regardless, even when you don't listen to music over the net.
      Clearly le Président de la République is shacked up with an artist.

      • by Cochonou (576531)
        It's actually a bit similar...
        As long as you have a TV, you pay for the national channels, even if you do not watch them.
        As long as you have internet access, the ISP will pay to help national music production, even if you do not listen to music on the internet (or to French music at all).
      • When you don't have a TV or radio you don't pay.

        So all I'd have to do is refer to my 47" LG 47LW5600 as a "monitor", hook it up to my computer, and I'd be golden?

        • by Teun (17872)
          Yes, although technology has advanced the critical element is having a detector as part of a receiver, rip out the tuner and you are golden.

          Of course there are legal differences between nations.

      • It is too a tax. It's a tax on owning a TV / having the TV connected to the broadcast network. If you don't own a TV, you don't pay it, but it's still a tax - just like how you don't have to pay fuel taxes if you don't have a car (but it's still a tax). I really don't get the religious zealotry among Brits denying their TV tax.

        The French tax is a tax based on having a computer hooked up to the internet, even if you never download music - 100% identical to how if you have a TV you are taxed to pay for the

      • by JackDW (904211)

        What is the big deal with calling the TV licence a tax?

        If there was a "road fund licence", and you had to pay it in order to take your car on a public road, would you get really annoyed if people started calling it a "road tax"? If people called the little paper licence discs "tax discs"? If even the DVLA started calling it "road tax"?

        The licence fee is plainly a tax. The BBC has a government-granted monopoly and is funded by tax levied via the licence fee.

        This is not to say that such taxes are a bad thi

    • If it's mandated, it's a tax. It a lot of countries you don't have an option not to pay.

      • Re:Correction. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:13PM (#38111174) Journal
        I can't speak for the specifics of each country's implementation(and, in practice, many of them probably do a bit of both, with some sort of targeted levy and some level of generic funding for the arts or culture or what have you); but there seem to be three distinct flavors:

        1. Some sort of funding out of general tax receipts, as with the National Endowment for the Arts or NPR in the US. The overall level is set by something resembling representative democracy; but there is neither the assertion nor the intention that there is any particular relationship between the stuff being taxed and the stuff being funded, the stuff being funded is just seen to be something by which the public good is served(accurately or not, I'm not hugely interested in arguing on that specific point).

        2. Some sort of funding out of a specific category of tax, as with special taxes(in addition to generic sales/VAT) on digital storage media in a number of countries. This category does assert a connection between the thing taxed and the thing funded; but it is marked by the relatively indescriminate nature of the tax: digital storage levies essentially assume that all storage media are used for piracy, for instance.

        3. Some sort of funding tied relatively closely to use of(within the limits of gauging that) the thing being funded, as with taxes on motor fuels to fund roads, or taxes on broadcast TV receivers to fund the BBC. This category also asserts a connection between the thing taxed and the thing funded but, unlike #2, makes some(usually imperfect) effort to be accurate: The BBC's fee doesn't cover monitors without TV tuners, motor fuel taxes frequently distinguish between roadway vehicles and agricultural or aviation uses, that sort of thing.
    • by jez9999 (618189)

      It is not a tax to see public channels it's a license fee to own and use a TV receiver.

      If you're talking about the UK licence fee, it's actually a tax to be able to receive any broadcast content originating from the UK - including over the internet. That's why it's illegal to use iPlayer if you don't have a licence. I'm actually rather surprised the government haven't yet agreed to just let the BBC tax everyone's internet connection.

  • by jpapon (1877296) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:31PM (#38110870) Journal
    There's absolutely no useful information in the article. How big is the tax? Who exactly are they taxing? How are they calculating the tax rate?

    I have no problem with a very small tax for having an internet connection which pays for the arts. Someone has to pay for the arts, might as well be people who consume it via the internet. In my mind I'd rather have artists getting a small stipend from the government, when the alternative is sucking at the teat of the corporations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JPLR (1404551)
      There is no such tax at all at the moment. President Sarkozy told to the press that this kind of tax could exist in the future. This means the government has to propose a law which it hadn't, that the parliament vote for it (there are at least two turns between the two houses if every PM agrees which is highly unlikely, and otherwise many turns until an agreement is reached) and finally that the government fund the law which means the chance that such a law would be implemented in very low.
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      And who decides which artists get that tax revenue?

      • by jpapon (1877296)
        I'd rather have an institution comprised of artists which determines which artists should receive a living stipend, rather than just having it be "whatever sells the best".
        • Sounds like a recipe for really shitty art.

          • by migla (1099771)

            >Sounds like a recipe for really shitty art.

            That depends on whether you prefer commercial crap or commercially independent art.

            I'm not sure about some committee deciding who's a good artist, though. It would probably be better to give every human a basic income, so that the ones passionate about their art could do it instead of getting McJobs.

            Then you could have some committee too, but it wouldn't have as big of an impact.

            And more mainstream commercial artists would of course get extra money from gigs a

            • Re:Who can tell... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:59PM (#38112706)

              That depends on whether you prefer commercial crap or commercially independent art.

              Translation:

              "Commercial crap" - stuff people like enough to willingly pay for.
              "Commercially independent art" - stuff no-one likes enough to willingly pay for.

              The UK used to have a system where the government would fund movies, but only movies that weren't 'commercial'. The end result was that money was taken from people who didn't want to watch those movies to fund them and then people seemed surprised when they flopped because.... well, duh... no-one wanted to watch them.

              • by Noughmad (1044096)

                It's more like this:

                "Commercial crap" - stuff the majority of people like.
                "Commercially independent art" - stuff artists and intellectuals like.

                Of course, there's a load of crap in both categories. However, I am more likely to find music I like in the second group, simply because it's chosen by like-minded people.

      • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

        A tax usually goes to the state.

    • by jonbryce (703250)

      Well there is this thing called TVA (en_GB VAT, en_US Sales Tax, en_CA GST) which is 19.6% on top of the fee you pay to your ISP. So the claim that ISPs don't pay any tax to the French is false.

    • I think a more interesting question is, where is the tax going?

      I mean, TV fee in UK is pretty obvious - it's what funds BBC. One can argue on whether it is a good return for the money or not, or whether it is ethical to fund it that way regardless of how good it is, but at least there's a clear something that people who pay the tax get in return. What do they get here?

      • It's the European equivalent of the National Endowment for the Arts.

        European tradition is that ruling bodies sponsor arts. It goes back at least to the 16th century where royalty would become patrons of composers orchestras scientists you name it.

        This is a way to pay for such things. It has nothing to do with commercial music.

        • That sounds more reasonable. The mention of "music industry" in the summary is what made me think of this more like those "piracy taxes" on blank media, where the money collected goes to private third parties.

          • Regarding your sig, did you actually read the article that you're linking to? If you look at the graph, you see that starting in the 50's the countries GDP growth has been fairly stable, regardless of the highest tax bracket. Now, you might use this as justification to rape the successful, but as your own source points out, that won't increase GDP. The counter argument is that citizens should be allowed to keep the fruits of their labor, especially since there's no historical evidence that raping the ric
            • The point of the linked article is not to claim that increasing marginal tax rate makes GDP grow higher. It's to refute the conservative/libertarian claim that high taxes hamper economic growth. As you yourself point out, that is not the case - the growth is fairly stable all in all, and correlates more with bubbles than with tax rate. But GDP is not the sole measure of a country's prosperity - a country can have insanely high GDP with very few actually enjoying the fruits of the economy. Now that - income

            • One more thing. It's interesting that you've used that specific wording - "fruits of their labor" - because it actually highlights the nature of the problem. The fruits of your labor is what you get for doing something useful. The problem is that most of the superhigh profits in this world are not obtained that way. If I buy a bunch of Apple stock today, and sell them in a year, there's no labor involved - it's pure gambling. And when you look at capital gains in general, they're all like that - it's either

    • Is CNM a private-ish collections agency for the music industry that'll rip off artists?

      OR

      Is CNM a public organization that sponsors artists creating new music? Ala BBC, PBS, etc.

        Big fucking difference!

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:42PM (#38110942) Journal
    Is it truly the case that ISPs and such, with all their hardware, facilities, staff, and sales in France, somehow manage to avoid paying roughly the same taxes that other businesses operating there do? Or is our favorite undersized gallic weasel just lying...

    Also, if the intertubes are being taxed to pay for the production of french culture or something, ISP subscribers can download it without legal worry, right?
    • by melikamp (631205) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @05:53PM (#38111020) Homepage Journal

      if the intertubes are being taxed to pay for the production of french culture or something, ISP subscribers can download it without legal worry, right?

      One should hope. While some people laugh at France's [1] conviction that art should be sponsored by the government, to me it does look like a more ethical alternative to copyright. Provided, of course, that there is no such thing as "non-commercial infringement". I would much rather pay a flat art tax and not be censored on the Internet than endure any more copyright legislation.

      [1] Russia's too. Some countries are just like that.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        While some people laugh at France's [1] conviction that art should be sponsored by the government,

        There are two different things here. First, that ISPs are being taxed, and second, that the money is being put into funding music. I believe that taxing the Internet causes much more harm to the economy than the money that can be gained.

        to me it does look like a more ethical alternative to copyright.

        I fail to see how copyright is unethical. Sure, lifetime+70 years is as unethical as it can get, but that's problem with the implementation, not with the idea of copyright. I do think that reasonable copyright laws would be much better than no copyright at all. The problem w

        • by melikamp (631205)

          I believe that taxing the Internet causes much more harm to the economy than the money that can be gained.

          Why do you believe that? What I am saying, taxing the Internet does not even begin to compare with censoring the Internet. I would much rather have the former. IMHO, it is strictly better than Copyright. Copyright is a way to reward publishers, distributors, and artists (in that order) for their work. The money is being obtained at the distribution stage. There is some consistency to taxing the raw Internet access (while abolishing non-commercial copyright): they would still be getting money out of the dist

          • by Hentes (2461350)

            Why do you believe that?

            Because the IT sector is a huge driver of economy, and infrastructure should be supported not taxed.

            Here's a more specific proposal of the same nature.

            This doesn't provide a solution to distribute the money. Querying 100000 people would cost more than the whole "art budget".

            Yes, that's enough to vindicate my statement, isn't it? But beyond the obscene length of the copyright, there is also the matter of domain. Is it ethical to allow to copyright research pertaining to a life-saving drug? Or a piece of software that can save billions of dollars for a developing country?

            Is having food unethical because there are starving people in the world? These moral questions are not specific to copyright. Allowing only "non-commercial infringement" would not solve the problem, as at one point or another every commercial licencer has to sell to consumers to get paid

      • While some people laugh at France's [1] conviction that art should be sponsored by the government,

        and music, finally, surrenders.

        now isn't that a switch!

    • the issue is not with the ISP, but with "content providers" who make trucload of cash in one country and pay taxes (or mostly avoid to pay taxes in another)...

      Google makes probably 40 to 60% of it's income in Europe, and pays almost nothing.
      Same for most large content providers...

      Doesn't mean that this tax/licence is a good idea, but at least it has some rationale.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @06:00PM (#38111054)

    Levying taxes is like plucking a live goose for feathers: you want to get a maximum number of feathers, with the least amount of fuss. There is no point in taxing poor folks . . . they have no money. If you tax everyone directly, you end up with a lot of fussy geese on your streets, like in Greece.

    Everyone knows that the Internet is awash in gazillions of money. So tax the ISPs. The geese don't see the tax directly, but the ISP passes the costs on to them indirectly.

    Everyone likes to see a tax on other folks than themselves. They hear "Rich Internet Companies" are paying the tax, and feel that the ISPs are just paying their fair share.

    Except for a few folks on Slashdot . . .

    • in fact they wanted to tax Google because Google makes WAY more money than any ISP EVER made

      but Google is very powerful, and the government is always controlled by the most powerful.

      so the tax will go instead on the ISPs.

      note that both ways are wrong, of course

  • The problem with all these hidden taxes is the government infrastructure it takes to run it. A few simple straight forward taxes that everyone pays their fair share is really all we need.

    You could argue some small taxes are necessary to cover specific purposes that are not used by the general population; for example aircraft fuel tax pays for airport upkeep and the FAA. Too bad here in the US they want to turn that simple tax into lots of little taxes, creating a whole new tax bureaucracy in the process.

  • the governments? You can use the TOS and say you were interferring with operation of the network and business, so we cut you off.

    Or all ISP's shut down the networks for a day. See the chaos the world fall into.

  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:59PM (#38113142)

    It has a snowball's chance in hell of happening this way, but in principle this could be implemented well.

    You'd put a small tax on telecommunications and use it to support artists and musicians. That way you wouldn't need the copyright garbage, music and art would be financed through taxes, and it could be freely distributed across the entire world.

    Of course, in reality corruption will see it end up lining the pockets of a handful of people, the oppressive copyright laws would remain, and the government will use the funding as a means to bully "content providers" into doing their bidding.

    • You'd put a small tax on telecommunications and use it to support artists and musicians

      How do you stop people, people like me who could produce copious amounts of crap music very quickly, from applying for and getting some of that money?

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @02:50AM (#38114482)

    The vast majority of music isn't produced in France or in French. Even music consumed in France. The French government have a history of trying to distort this in honor of gallic pride. In 1993, the French passed a law [nytimes.com] requiring French radio stations to play at least 40% French language music even though listeners didn't want it.

    Information on this latest levy is pretty sketchy but it appears to be a tax to fund Centre National de la Musique whose goal appears to be to fund French music production [google.com].

    So the French are collecting a tax based on the assumption of music piracy - where the majority of piracy is of British or American music - and then, by the looks of things, giving it entirely to the French music industry, not to the artists and labels whose music is actually pirated by French listeners and internet users anyway. Tres Francais.

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