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Austrian Collection Societies Want A 'You Must Be A Criminal' Tax On Hard Drives

from the pay-up dept

techflaws.org points us to the news that seven different collection societies in Austria are demanding a private copying levy on all hard drives (Google translation of the original German). Since seven different collection societies are involved, and each needs to get a cut, when you add all their fees up -- it means that all hard drives under 500 GB have 21.60 euros added to the bill, while hard drives over 750 GB get a whopping 43.74 euros added (it's not clear what happens between 500 to 750 GB). There's also some weirdness where hardware vendors who give up their right to sue can have the levy reduced by 2/3 -- which makes the whole thing seem even more sketchy. Apparently, similar plans have been rejected in the past, but the collection societies have claimed "times have changed." And, the response should be: so it's about time you learned to change as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Karl (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:43am

    Hard drive license

    So, I guess that if the levy goes through, Germans will automatically have a license to download those collection societies' music. Right?

    Otherwise, what the hell would they be paying for?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:44am

    Indeed, times have changed: hard disk drives now have even more non-copyright-violation uses than before.

     

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  3.  
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    Damian (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:44am

    Okay, so they basically want to tax an information storage device. They've already gotten away with this in Canada, with the blank cd levy.
    I wonder how this will work. In the European Union, you have the concept of free movement of goods i.e. you don't have to pay import duty if its from one EU member to another. So, if I live in Austria and order a hard drive from Germany, do I have to pay a tax?
    Plus, where will it stop? Are they eventually going to run out of devices to collect on, and then say, "Let's tax paper too! People can write...oh...lemme think here...song lyrics! Yeah, lets go with that!"
    Eventually, they will no longer be an entertainment industry. With all these taxes, they will no longer have the incentive to produce new content. They will just point at a device, say you and I owe them money because we might be pirates, and collect it. What would you do in their situation? Write a new song every once in a while, or release one, and collect a tax for it forever, regardless of the fact NO-ONE listens to your song?
    Plus, how do these collection agencies determine how to split the money? Oh wait, I forget, they don't. These agencies have been exposed in the past as keeping the money they collect.

     

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  4.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:49am

    "the response should be: so it's about time you learned to change as well."

    Old dog ... new tricks ...

     

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  5.  
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    Christopher Gizzi (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Sliding Scale?

    I can't get Google Translate to work but I wonder if the fees increase with the HD size or is it a flat fee for anything over 750GB. If its a flat fee, then you encourage people to purchase a larger hard drive to lower your per GB costs.

    So they’re driving up the costs of hardware, not solving the "problem" of infringement, saying to the consumer you're a criminal and this fee pays for your infringement which encourages more infringement, and making larger hard drives (to store all of the infringing files you paid for with this fee) more attractive.

    This is a brilliant idea!! I’m sure it’s going to help them in the long run.

     

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  6.  
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    cc (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:54am

    Parasites.

     

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  7.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:55am

    Re: Hard drive license

    Actually it Australia not Germany

     

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  8.  
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    The Rust Belt (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    "So, if I live in Austria and order a hard drive from Germany, do I have to pay a tax?"

    It can be arranged the other way around - every HD sold in Austria (meaning by an Austrian company) will be taxed and the tax will be paid by the seller.

     

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  9.  
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    PRMan, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Imagine the smuggling operation that's about to form...

    There will be black market hard drives for $40 less than at any store. They'll be armed with automatic weapons and sail across the river on speedboats....

     

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  10.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re:

    "It can be arranged the other way around - every HD sold in Austria (meaning by an Austrian company) will be taxed and the tax will be paid by the seller."

    The cost to the seller of paying this tax will then be tacked on to the selling price of the hard drive...so in the end, Average Austrian Joe still has to pay the tax.

     

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  11.  
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    Anon, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:04pm

    Re: Re: Hard drive license

    Actually its Austria, not Germany.

    FTFY

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Hard drive license

    No. Think of it like paying for a road tax and speeding - http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/OwningAVehicle/HowToTaxYourVehicle/DG_10012524

    You own a car in the UK, you pay road tax. You speed and get caught you pay a fine, get points on your license, go to prison.

    You buy a hard disk, you pay the "content owner" tax. You download copyrighted material without permission, you get fined (sued), lose your internet connection, go to prison.

    This is commonly referred to as - having your cake and eating it.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: Hard drive license

    Road tax is not a tax on speeding. Road tax is a tax for maintenance of the infrastructure.

    On the other hand, with this proposed hard disk tax, both the tax and the fine would be for the same thing.

     

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  14.  
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    The Rust Belt (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Agreed. I do not say that the actual tax incidence will be on the side of the buyer. I have only commented on the way tax collection can work.

     

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  15.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:14pm

    Let's hear it for taxation without representation!

     

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  16.  
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    RD, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:23pm

    ENOUGH

    ENOUGH with the car analogies already! CARS ARE NOT DIGITAL MEDIA. Not the same. Not even similar. "its like a car..." DOES NOT EQUATE. ITs a bad analogy no matter what you twist it up as.

     

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  17.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:31pm

    Re: ENOUGH

    Many good teachers throughout history have found parables (analogies) to be good methods of conveying information to a listener to whom the concept being conveyed would be entirely foreign and alien without some sort of linked/anchoring idea which he/she comprehends.

    Just sayin'

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:42pm

    Re:

    Basically, in the case of the CD levy, it was pretty retarded, it applies to "audio recording media", so the CD manufacturing companies made up stupid distinctions saying they sold CDs for copying music and CDs for copying data (that were of course actually the same thing) and if anyone was stupid enough to buy the CD that is advertised as being for music, they have to pay 5 times as much for it.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re: ENOUGH

    I don't think he was saying analogies are bad, but that cars are bad analogies for copyright :)

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: ENOUGH

    A car is a good analogy for copyright, except that it is not easily copyable, needs constant maintenance, uses up fuel, and can smash you under several tons of fast-moving metal.

    Ok, maybe it is not that good of an analogy after all.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: ENOUGH

    Copyright is like a bad analogy...

     

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  22.  
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    CN, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:07pm

    Where does it end?

    Why doesn't everyone else do it too?

    They should have a Bank tax on guns, because some people use them to rob banks. Some people pretend to have guns in their pockets as well, so the tax should also extend to:

    - pens
    - pencils
    - bananas
    - toy guns
    - fingers

    Don't forget other items such as knives, baseball bats, golf clubs. And a car tax, since getaways are often made in cars.

    I'm sure there's more. Convenience stores should also be able to get a cut.

    Some people don't pick up after their dogs when they go. Just fine everyone with a dog, much simpler than going after the actual offenders.

    I could go on, but I think the point is made.

     

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  23.  
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    Hotblack, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:12pm

    theft. pure f***ing theft.

     

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  24.  
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    Overcast (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:22pm

    Guess people should buy solid state drives then.

     

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  25.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: ENOUGH

    Arguing with analogies is like driving a Yugo. It might function for a while, but it eventually breaks down and people are laughing at you the entire time. So don't argue with analogies.

    Wait....

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    We already have this stuff in the neighbourhood (Hungary). You have to pay the fee for harddisks, memory cards, optical disks, thumb drives etc. People really like it.

     

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  27.  
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    Karl (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hard drive license

    Oops, you're right, sorry. I'll bet I just angered a lot of Austrians.

    The question still remains, though... Since you're not getting any sort of license to the societies' music, why the hell should you pay anything?

     

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  28.  
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    MAC, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:55pm

    Hard drive tax

    So, lets tax memory sticks, SD cards, where will it all end?

    Politicians and bureaucrats will come up with even more creative ways to tax.

    Hey, your brain is like a hard drive, so why don't we tax it's storage capacity?

    Let's see, 2 trillion billion neurons... Hmmm... It should be a fee of about $500,000. So, let's span that out over say a 75 year lifetime and voila! You pay $6,661 a year because some copyrighted song that you despise might be playing in your head and some idiot thinks you are violating some bozos rights to rip us off as much as they possibly can.

    By the way, I work for a label and I believe in giving the devil his due but this is getting downright ridiculous.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Where is Bob, I want to point him to the real people that don't pull any weight at all and expect to get paid for nothing.

    The industry that trades in imaginary goods, have imaginary threats, keep moaning about imaginary harm and want to get paid for imaginary work.

    F'ing unbelievable.

    The next Uwe Boll is coming out of Austria for sure.

     

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  30.  
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    MAC, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Where does it end?

    Fine everyone; period. They might get a dog. Just like you might get a song on the hard drive. Notice I said might and that is exactly one of the major things wrong with this proposed FUBAR'd law. It assumes that everyone buying a HD is in violation of copyright laws...

     

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  31.  
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    The Rust Belt (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    Re:

    Which people? The ones that get to receive the money I guess :-)

     

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  32.  
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    NullOp, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 2:25pm

    FO

    THIS is why America came to be! Taxation, taxation, taxation. The kings, lords, and GD-near everyone and anyone tried to tax the dog$hit out of everyone else! Keep pushing a-holes and there is gonna be more change than you ever counted on!

     

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  33.  
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    Sean T Henry (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    I know next tax all processing devices because they can be used to decode digital audio and video, not to mention they can be used to encode the original Pirate copy.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Hungary is a Paradise

    Ahh, I forgot to mention that you also have to pay for mp3 players and certain cellphones. And if you want to turn on the radio in your shop. The next step is getting a levy on thinking about music.

    And who likes it? Those people, who convinced the politicians in the early 1990's that this is necessary, and they get this neat association which has legal power to decide how much you have to pay. The minister for culture is always their puppet. Nobody would pay for their 10 holidays a year otherwise.

    ps. There is a single good thing in this mess: you can download music/movies etc. for *private* use. But what is the price? You have to pay the fee for a memory card which you are using in your camera.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Re:

    "...all processing devices because they can be used to decode digital audio and video, not to mention they can be used to encode the original Pirate copy."

    Like a human brain?

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 3:23pm

    The same system (with basically the same rates) is already in place in Italy since January 2010. Italian people have started buying hard-drives from Austria and Germany.

    There is even a litte black market of non-imported-in-Italy-but-somewhere-in-the-EU disks sold in small shops. This is barely legal but can save you 20 or 30 euro on a disk that costs 80 euro.

    And no, you do not get to download what you want.

    And to add insult to injury, the levy is given to only one collection society that shares it only with the top-40 musicians of the last year. No video, no independant authors, no one else.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 5:37pm

    Up next: Germany sues Austria for infringing use of its language. The German Language Copyright Minister had this to say: "They used to speak Hungarian or something, right? Well, they should just go back to that."

     

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  38.  
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    NAMELESS.ONE, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 5:47pm

    talk to Stepehen Harper

    he says the gun registry treats people like criminals for registering something THAT CAN KILL people...now maybe if he dont want that he don't want new copyright bill in canada and won't sign ACTA...

    up next for real is the copyright law bill c32 in canada even stricter then the DMCA and ACTA treaty....
    end of the net and it will mean as people catch on LOADS just dropping it

     

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  39.  
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    Laurel L. Russwurm (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 7:49pm

    The Canadian Levy was bad

    In Canada most Canadians believe that the Levy means we can copy copyright music onto our CDs. This is not actually stated in our existing law however. As I understand it, the levy money has been collected by copyright collectives, most likely the ones quoted on this GRAMMY article. It's pretty scary when people believe that copyright law is supposed to "to provide a new marketplace for creators."

    I've heard that the Canadian Levy is supposed to be paid out under the radio play formula. I've never seen anything definitively saying that creators have gotten paid out of the money that's been collected. The result has been that CD's have become more expensive than DVDs. The justification is that it is supposed to help finance creators, but if it helps anyone outside of the copyright collectives, it's the Top 40 as suggested by Anonymous Coward.

    The actual Independent musicians, the ones who it ought to be for, the ones who actually distribute their music online and don't appear on the radio, not only don't get a piece of the action, they have to pay the levy when they are burning CDs to sell (or even promos to give away!)

    Many Canadians believe that the Levy means we can copy movies as well.

    There was a suggestion by Charlie Angus, the one Canadian politician who seems to understand this stuff, that the CD Levy should be expanded to cover all storage devices. Our Minister of Heritage (who blocks citizens from following his Twitter feed) very emphatically said that this "ipod tax" was not going to happen.

    Meanwhile our current government is attempting to put through Bill C-32, a new copyright law (which appears to have been written by the MPAA/RIAA/USTR/CRIA) that will be worse than the DMCA as suggested by NAMELESS.ONE. When they aren't doing that, they keep ACTAing along.

     

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  40.  
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    Gjardharr, Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 9:04pm

    In Soviet Russia

    I live in Russia and want you to know that we have similar problems here.
    Russian Collecting Society (RAO) and Nikita Mikhalkov's Russian Union of Right-holders (RUR) are now in the battle for the Grand-Prix of Copyright -- the right to legally collect the already infamous copyright tax from all importers of blank CDs, HDDs, flash drives, electronic devices (MP3 and DVD players, cell phones, etc.), computers and whatnot. The estimated amount of fees is about $100 million a year. This includes 1% tax on the imported devices and 3% tax on blank drives.
    The two contenders claim they're acting in accordance with the Civil Code. They are awaiting a decision by the Rosokhrankultura, Russian government's "culture heritage" protection agency, that has to choose, which organization is to reap the benefits.
    Read more here: http://j.mp/9EfJIw (Google Translation).

     

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  41.  
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    WysiWyg (profile), Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 1:11am

    Re: Hard drive tax

    Now now, don't be like that. OBVIOUSLY they would never ask for $6661 a year, that's crazy! No, $5000 is enough. No need to get greedy. ;-)

     

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  42.  
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    Ruben Berenguel, Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 1:14am

    Spain

    This has been done in Spain for a long while, we pay our RIAA equivalent a small fee of all mp3 players/storage devices/CD/DVD's. The 'good' point?

    In a series of cases, Spanish courts have ruled that file sharing for private use is legal. In 2006, the record industry's attempt to criminalize file sharing were disappointed when Judge Paz Aldecoa declared it legal to download indiscriminately in Spain, if done for private use and without any profit purpose.

    Taken from this wikipedia entry. The small thought of "well, they deserve some money from what they have produced" is gone, as they are already taking money from me.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 4:30am

    Re: Hard drive license

    Umm.. Austria is not in Germany..

     

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  44.  
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    Karl (profile), Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Hard drive license

    Actually, that's not such a horrible analogy, but it doesn't prove your point.

    The road tax pays to support the upgrades and maintenance of the roads. In the case of hard drives, you're already paying for that when you pay for the hard drive itself (without any tax involved).

    If you speed you pay a fine - but you don't pay that price if you follow the speed limit. In this analogy, you're paying for a speeding ticket even if you don't speed.

    Let's say a user doesn't download any music (e.g. if it's a hard drive for a private corporate server). Yet they still have to pay music collection agencies. How is that in any way justified?

    The accurate analogy is: You have to pay a "speeding ticket" - whether you speed or not - no matter if you're a car, a truck, a train, a plane, or simply crossing the border on foot.

     

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  45.  
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    Karl (profile), Sep 23rd, 2010 @ 6:54am

    Re: Spain

    If Austria actually enacted these laws, then I don't think I'd be offended.

    I actually think Spain's model is an OK one. Levy the media, but allow all non-commercial use as a condition of that levy.

    Obviously, it's a stopgap measure, but at this point I'll take what I can get.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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