Well, it’s happened. Spain has announced that beginning July 1, it’s instituting a special anti-piracy tax called the Digital Canon [UPDATE: Article referenceing this no longer exists online] , according to an article on Billboard.biz. It puts a tax on gadgets that can copy, record or store sounds and images. Yes, I said store too.
Sounds like a new spin on the old sin tax. Except, with the standard things a sin tax applies to, you actually have to participate in the sin, e.g. gambling, smoking or consuming alcohol. This is more like saying “We’re instituting an anti-stabbing tax on all kitchenware and cutlery” (don’t worry, I’m sure spoons would have the smallest tax in that scenario). The tool has the capability, so you are taxed whether or not you use, or even intend to use it for that illicit purpose.
Now based on the article, all the monies collected are given to Artists’ Rights Organizations for distribution to the creators of the art as compensation for money lost from pirated works. There is no provision for how the money is to be distributed, it’s just given to the Rights Organizations. How would you decide to distribute the money? You’re getting a flat fee based on tools without any tracking what works are being pirated or used or anything. Yeah, let’s just leave it up to the old way of doing things, I’m sure that’s fair. It’s sounds like most of Spain feels that way…Or not.
But don’t worry about it, that’s Spain and not here. That could never happen here. An under informed government is never forced to take carte blanche on an almost out of control situation based on special interest groups’ input. No, not here.
So, what do you think? Does any of this matter? If we’re going to be charged on the Internet, and all indicators point that way, is this how it should work? Is it important that the creators of the art be protected and compensated for their works?
Who do you want to pay for your music?
Update: It’s been brought to my attention that Canada has an anti-piracy tax on recordable media (e.g. CDs DVDs) and did have a separate tariff on mp3 players (e.g. iPods) that has since been revoked/repealed. I haven’t found creditable sources for this info, are there any Canadians who could shed some extra light on this?