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France Planning Non-Windows Tablet Tax? 227

An anonymous reader writes "Lots of countries around the world have private copying 'levies,' which are effectively taxes on products that store data, which is put into a pool to be handed out to copyright holders, as a sort of payment for the 'copying' that individuals do. This was quite popular with blank CDRs, for example, but has been expanded in certain countries to cover hard drives, iPods and other such devices. Over in France, they're looking to expand the levy to tablet computers, but apparently if that tablet computer is running Microsoft Windows, it will be exempted from the tax. iPads and Android-powered tablets will have the tax. Why? Well, the argument is that if a tablet is running Windows, it's really a 'computer.' But if it's running one of those 'mobile' operating systems, suddenly it's a brand new category. Not surprisingly, makers of Android tablets — including the French company Archos — are not at all happy about this."
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France Planning Non-Windows Tablet Tax?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 28, 2010 @05:01PM (#34691258)

    Yea, I think you fail more than them if you run an article through Google Translate and then complain about the writing because you don't understand something.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 28, 2010 @05:05PM (#34691286)

    Canada has had a copying-tax for many, many years. It's worked very well for the executives of the RIAA and the CRIAA [michaelgeist.ca]:

    Canadian Recording Industry Faces $6 Billion Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

    Monday December 07, 2009
    Chet Baker was a leading jazz musician in the 1950s, playing trumpet and providing vocals. Baker died in 1988, yet he is about to add a new claim to fame as the lead plaintiff in possibly the largest copyright infringement case in Canadian history. His estate, which still owns the copyright in more than 50 of his works, is part of a massive class-action lawsuit that has been underway for the past year.

    As my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes, the infringer has effectively already admitted owing at least $50 million and the full claim could exceed $6 billion. If the dollars don't shock, the target of the lawsuit undoubtedly will: The defendants in the case are Warner Music Canada, Sony BMG Music Canada, EMI Music Canada, and Universal Music Canada, the four primary members of the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

    The CRIA members were hit with the lawsuit [PDF] in October 2008, after artists decided to turn to the courts following decades of frustration with the rampant infringement (I am adviser to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, which is co-counsel, but have had no involvement in the case). The claims arise from a longstanding practice of the recording industry in Canada, described in the lawsuit as "exploit now, pay later if at all." It involves the use of works that are often included in compilation CDs (ie. the top dance tracks of 2009) or live recordings. The record labels create, press, distribute, and sell the CDs, but do not obtain the necessary copyright licences.

    Instead, the names of the songs on the CDs are placed on a "pending list", which signifies that approval and payment is pending. The pending list dates back to the late 1980s, when Canada changed its copyright law by replacing a compulsory licence with the need for specific authorization for each use. It is perhaps better characterized as a copyright infringement admission list, however, since for each use of the work, the record label openly admits that it has not obtained copyright permission and not paid any royalty or fee.

    Over the years, the size of the pending list has grown dramatically, now containing over 300,000 songs. From Beyonce to Bruce Springsteen, the artists waiting for payment are far from obscure, as thousands of Canadian and foreign artists have seen their copyrights used without permission and payment.

    It is difficult to understand why the industry has been so reluctant to pay its bills. Some works may be in the public domain or belong to a copyright owner difficult to ascertain or locate, yet the likes of Sarah McLachlan, Bruce Cockburn, Sloan, or the Watchmen are not hidden from view.

    The more likely reason is that the record labels have had little motivation to pay up. As the balance has grown to over $50 million (Universal alone owes more than $30 million), David Basskin, the President and CEO of the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd., notes in his affidavit that "the record labels have devoted insufficient resources to identifying and paying the owners of musical works on the Pending Lists." Basskin adds that some labels believe addressing the issue would be "an unproductive use of their time."

    Having engaged in widespread copyright infringement for over 20 years, the CRIA members now face the prospect of far greater liability. The class action seeks the option of statutory damages for each infringement. At $20,000 per infringement (the amount owed on some songs exceed this amount), potential liability exceeds $6 billion. These numbers may sound outrageous, yet they are based on the same rules that has led the recording industry to claim a single file sharer is liable for millio

  • Re:From TFA comments (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PatPending ( 953482 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2010 @05:34PM (#34691578)

    McDonalds didn't "buy" an exemption; the Department of Health and Human Services said it granted waivers in late September so workers with such plans wouldn't lose coverage from employers who might choose instead to drop health insurance altogether [usatoday.com].

    I found it interesting that you chose to mention "Lots of Megacorps" but failed to mention all the unions that "bought" their exemptions too! [hhs.gov] And, oh, by the way, waivers are available until 2014.

    From FactCheck [factcheck.org]:

    Q: Has the Obama administration allowed corporations to "opt out" of the new health care law?

    A: No. The government has granted more than 200 waivers, but these merely give companies a temporary delay before being required to improve the coverage of cheap, bare-bones plans they currently offer.

  • This is important... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Tuesday December 28, 2010 @06:07PM (#34692002) Homepage

    This is one of the most important things for supporters of Free Software to understand: businesses are subsidized by the tax code. All businesses, even the terrible ones. Especially the terrible ones.

    It doesn't matter which country you're talking about. The economies of nearly every Western government are equally hosed up in the same ridiculous way. Tax agencies assume that everything an individual purchases is consumed, and that everything a corporation purchases is an investment. As far as taxing authorities are concerned, a Windows computer is an investment. It is capital. It fits the obsolete model of production that governments know: labor + capital == profit. When you buy anything as a business, you write it off your taxes and pat yourself on the back.

    A non-corporate, non-business operating system, on the other hand, is a toy. It's a distraction, a hobby. Governments consider it not to be an investment, but a consumer item. Same goes for an Android phone. It's assumed to depreciate in value. A Windows phone, though, is for business. It's assumed to produce value. Nevermind the fact that most Windows phones are unproductive toys, or that most Windows computers are inefficient cludges. Nevermind the fact that free and open source software can be orders of magnitude more efficient and productive than proprietary, closed source software. Windows is a capital investment. Free software is a toy.

    The result should be obvious. Responsible, non-consumer individuals are punished. Wasteful, non-producing companies are subsidized. Long term investments in things like open standards are discouraged. Short term speculation is encouraged.

    It really is as simple as that. Governments don't consider it further. The idea of a Windows computer running a nuclear power plant, therefore, seems perfectly natural. Debian? A toy. Red Hat? One of the most expensive operating systems ever. They are 99% the exact same code. One is a tax write-off produced by a legitimate company. The other is a toy produced by a bunch of hobbyists. In the US, we see all of these crap small businesses that can no longer afford their rent. Corporate real estate is about to take a dump all over itself. Banks are over leveraged, and it turns out they own no real assets. They were subsidized. They bought a bunch of consumable junk like Windows computers, shoddy houses and uninsulated office buildings, wrote it off as a brilliant investment, and waited for the profit to roll in. Unfortunately, everyone else did the same, all the real assets went overseas, and now the US economy is utter crap.

User hostile.