Dear Sweden: Will You Tax Hard Drives And Give Me A Cut Every Time Someone Visits Techdirt?

from the tax-and-spend dept

We’ve discussed in the past the ridiculousness of attempts by various countries to put a levy on blank media just in case you might copy something onto it that was covered by copyright. Apparently Sweden is now gearing up to go through this same fight, as the entertainment industry is demanding a blank media levy. As Rick Falkvinge points out at the link above, this is not (as some believe) a blanket license to infringe. The fee people pay is only supposed to cover legal copying. But, of course, if it’s legal, then that probably means the work was already paid for. Why should the person who paid for it have to pay again? And, that doesn’t even get into the fact that many people buy storage devices that are never used for such copying. But they still have to pay the tax.

The whole thing sounds like a joke, but I feel like I should demand my cut, just to point out the ridiculousness of it all. After all, every time someone in Sweden opens up a page on Techdirt, they’re making a “legal copy” on their hard drive. So, where’s my cut? According to Google Analytics, last month we had over 12,000 page views from Sweden. Clearly, I deserve a cut for each of those.

While my claim above is obviously silly, it’s no less silly than the claims of others. Why should one particular set of content providers get to set up a system like this, and how is the distribution manged? How much do we think will actually go to content creators? And where does it stop? If music and movie companies get a cut, what about book publishers? And news organizations? And blogs? Where do you draw the line? The problem is that as soon as you draw any line in such a case, you’re setting up a system that others will demand to be a part of. It’s just a bad idea all around.

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Comments on “Dear Sweden: Will You Tax Hard Drives And Give Me A Cut Every Time Someone Visits Techdirt?”

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Ninja (profile) says:

I’m commenting on your stuff and adding content to the internet, legal, so I deserve a cut of this blank media levy or whatever it’s called too.

But wait, I have the best idea ever! We should charge a levy on TVs because they show legal (and illegal content) depending on what the users use to watch. We should also charge this for DVD players, HDMI cables, electricity cables (they power up equipment that may be used to see the mentioned content.

Heck, now that we are at it, charge a glasses levy since they enable ppl with visual problems to see copyrighted content perfectly!!!


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually in Italy they have levied such a tax on TVs for decades, it is called “Canone Televisivo” (for lack of a better translation “TV Fee”).

It used to be levied in order to view the RAI state television but with the birth of private TVs in the late ’70s the government just changed it to cover the ability to watch any TV station and voil? you got your TV tax.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

lsof -nc /chrome/

Great for retrieving any file from the memory cache in Linux, that is stored on the HDD.

lsof -nc /.*/ | grep “Flash.*deleted”

chrome 11568 pirate 25u REG 253,1 453202788 2490713 /tmp/FlashXXGb1NmB (deleted)

With the file descriptor(FD: 25u), you can find the file in /proc/25/fd/tmp/FlashXXGb1NmB

Works great when you delete something and any program have the file still open.

Thanks to IBM for supporting piracy.

fogbugzd (profile) says:

Re: Re: au contraire

>>….But if I have to pay such fee it means the artists will be getting the money….

There is practically zero chance the artists will be getting any of the money. Just look at how the RIAA deal with YouTube is set up. They agreement doesn’t even pretend to share a cut with the artists. It all goes to the companies, which basically means that a lot of it goes to the company executives and the rest goes to tone-deaf stock holders.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: au contraire

Piracy is harder than it looks.

Like first, can you sail? Swim? How’re you at handling a cutlass? Can you inspire leadership and lead a crew of pirates into battle or will you be one of those pirates who scrubs the deck between battles? Are you squeamish about gang-rape? What if you’re on the receiving end? Do you usually drink other people under the table–cause if not you’ll have lots of “practice” facial tattoos…

Anyhow, good luck the piracy thing, I think I’ll stick to filesharing.


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: au contraire

You can start now then because there is a levy already.

“TITLE 17 > CHAPTER 10 > SUBCHAPTER C > ? 1004

? 1004. Royalty payments

(a) Digital Audio Recording Devices.?
(1) Amount of payment.? The royalty payment due under section 1003 for each digital audio recording device imported into and distributed in the United States, or manufactured and distributed in the United States, shall be 2 percent of the transfer price. Only the first person to manufacture and distribute or import and distribute such device shall be required to pay the royalty with respect to such device.”—-000-.html

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Only "legal" copies? Oh, really?

“Great idea! By the way, it’s illegal to copy protected media, and all the DVDs you market are protected, so there can’t be any legal copies made of your movies. You don’t get a cut. Have a nice day!”


a) I know it wouldn’t work and b) I also realize I’m applying US law (DMCA) to Sweden, but since Sweden seems so eager to do that to themselves, I figure, why can’t I get in on the fun?

Anonymous Coward says:

How it all began

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, ?Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent??
And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, ?How, dear??

And Dot replied, ?I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah?s Pony Stable (UPS).?

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent. To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures ? Hebrew To The People (HTTP).

And the young men did take to Dot Com?s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And indeed did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates? drumheads and drumsticks.

And Dot did say, ?Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.? And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known. He said, ?We need a name that reflects what we are.?

And Dot replied, ?Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.? ?YAHOO,? said Abraham. And because it was Dot?s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham?s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot?s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God?s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).
That is how it all began. And that?s the truth.

out_of_the_blue says:

You open a can of worms by demanding a cut.

Proving everyone wants money for nothing. — Oh, sure: you’re “just kidding”. — But I bet you’d take it if could. Morality is easily set aside when money is at stake; that’s the fundamental fact of human societies, and without being countered, causes them to fall apart. Hence my focus.

Also, it’s a childish non-sequiter that in no degree advances your case or opposes this scheme.

Tor (profile) says:

Legal copying

“But, of course, if it’s legal, then that probably means the work was already paid for. Why should the person who paid for it have to pay again?”

In Sweden it’s legal to make a limited amount of copies of a work and give to people in ones inner circle (eg. family members and close friends). I guess the levy is supposed to “compensate” for that among other things. The exemption does not apply to whole books and computer programs btw.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a similar tax to the ones set up in Canada and the US, except it deals with hds.

During the days of cassette tape, such a levy was put on blank recording media because you ‘might’ copy a song on the radio or from a record. The money was billed to be given to the artists in the US. Strangely, no money has ever been paid to any artist since from this source. It is also the reason why cds to record music are more expensive than their cousins to record data.

In Canada, it has been deemed legal to copy music wherever it is found because of the media tax. It’s not legal to upload but it is to download. The CRIA has been trying forever now to remove that blank media tax as it prevents them from going after torrent downloaders.

I somehow suspect it will be a money for free income should the harddrive tax pass in Sweden. It’s been tried in other countries and as far as I know it’s not been too successful in the long run. Canada had it and I think they rescinded it.

Andrew (profile) says:

ANNM left a comment on Rick Falkvinge’s post that presents a much better solution to the ‘problem’. Excerpt:

If the copyright industry thinks that they need compensation for legal private copying, then surely the easiest and fairest way to generate that compensation would be to add the fee to the price of the copyrighted product (e.g. music downloads, DVDs, CDs, Spotify subscriptions and so on). After all, you can?t copy a copyrighted work if you don?t actually have access to it in the first place. This way would be much fairer (if we were to pretend that the fee is needed at all) since it would only affect those who bought copyrighted works and thus had the ability to make copies of it.

ike (profile) says:

old news i'm afraid

My country (slovenia) has had this for a couple of years now and afaik some other eu member have it too. I’d check germany first cause that’s where we get most of our legal ‘inspiration’ from.

It’s called the ‘fee for private use’ and is in essence meant to compensate rights holders for the extra copies of cds we the people make so we could for instance play them in our car or mp3 player as well. That’s kind of absurd becase private reproduction is a fair use right here (keyword ‘right’), but it doesn’t bother anyone since the real gist of it is ‘infringment tax’, as it was unwisely admitted in press releases following the passage of said provision into law. The main sponsor wasn’t the copyright lobby (we’re a small, 2 mill market that can’t even buy stuffz on iTunes) but the collective societies that skim 25 percent or more off the top.

And it’s not just on cds or dvds, but flash cards, printers, fotocopiers and some other gear as well. Think not all of it is being collected yet cause of tariff disputes but you get the picture.

This there was a court ruling in Spain (?) Abt this that excluded corporate buyers, but not individuals from having to pay the said fee.

But one can see why rights holders would want to establish this as a precedent and then move on to ISPs. It’s free money.

darryl says:

get a clue

I have a TD page open now, “this one”.

So where on my hard drive can I find this file ?

the answer is simple NO WHERE…. it’s not there, it’s not supposed to be there.

Once again, this is a classic example of mike thinking everyone else on the planet is as ignorant and stupid as he appears to be.

But that’s why Mike is a third rate hack spitting hate whenever the chance arises.

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