France Tells Apple To Pay Giant 'You Must Be A Pirate' Tax On iPads

from the this-again? dept

French politicians had been pushing for years to extend its infamous “you must be a pirate” copyright levy (tax) to tablets, and it appears that’s now in place. Apple has been ordered to pay €5 million for all the copying supposedly going on via tablets. Apple pushed back, pointing out that there wasn’t any actual evidence to support the premise that the iPad was used for copying music, but the court basically said “too bad” and “here, pay €5 million while we figure out the amount you’ll actually owe:”

Apple argued as follows: the decision was not based on any hard data flowing from a study of actual use and merely replicated a previous decision applicable to mobile telephones, which decision was quashed for failing to properly carve out professional use….

[….] However, Copie France sought an award of a provisional amount, relying not on decision #13 but rather on the general statutory principle that such compensation is due. The Court agreed with this line of reasoning, noting that such principle was enshrined in both domestic and European law. It further noted that Apple, as supplier of the equipment at issue, was indeed the party that owed the levy. The Court thus fixed the amount of the provision at €5,000,000, to be applied against the final sum to be determined for the period between February and December 2011 (and ordered that its judgment be enforceable notwithstanding any appeal).

And, yes, technically, this tax is not supposed to be on “piracy” but on “legal copies” made, but everyone knows that argument is a smokescreen. The whole point of levies has really been to try to compensate copyright owners for copies they can’t directly tax. And, while Apple will have to pay up here, you can bet this will end up coming out of consumers pockets, as always happens with copyright levies, which serve to (1) make innovative technologies more expensive and (2) build a giant bureaucracy where not much money ever actually goes back to artists.

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Comments on “France Tells Apple To Pay Giant 'You Must Be A Pirate' Tax On iPads”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Is it something in the water?

You know, with all the anti-technology articles dealing with france, it just boggles the mind how much they seem to actively hate technology, and seem to be doing everything in their power to drive companies out of the country.

I must say though, I’m glad they are going after Apple for this though, a smaller company would have no choice but to just accept it or take their products out of the country(which would be bad to be sure, but depending on how large the tax is might be a better choice financially), whereas Apple is big enough, and has enough money, to fight back if they want to, something I dearly hope they do, as a ruling like this hurts everyone but the parasite ‘collection agencies/companies’ getting the tax(because you know not a cent of it will actually end up in the hands of those who’s works people are being taxed over).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Is it something in the water?

Exactly! France is known for their complete disregard for “free market” as a tool.

It is also reflected in the people: I saw a recent poll where French people found the people of France to be most arrogant and least arrogant in europe. That is a huge ego, if you ask me!

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Is it something in the water?

whereas Apple is big enough, and has enough money, to fight back if they want to

Would that that were true, but I can’t see them wanting to. That kind of money is spare change to Apple and is also rather less than the cost of the gazillion lawyers they’d pay to fight it (which probably had something to do with the figure chosen to claim for). Add to that the fact that they’ll simply pass the cost on to consumers so they come out ahead anyway and why would they even want to fight it?

I’d say this is classic French (and it is), but none of the western governments think any different having been comprehensively bullied and brainwashed for decades by the US government on behalf of the “copyright industries”.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Is it something in the water?

so it’s in their best long-term interests

Well maybe I’m a cynic (well I am but I meant in this case…), but neither corporations nor governments seem to recognise “long term” as part of a valid strategy. After all, most of the evidence seems to point to free-er markets being better for both increasing innovation/progress and the profits available in a sector, but governments have been systematically locking down markets on behalf of corporations for decades…

out_of_the_blue says:


Furrfu. (I’m tired of necessary use of “sheesh” here so using the Rot-13 version as of old.)

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up same place!
Gosh, don’t ya just wanna peek ahead at the next exciting re-write? — Well, you can see Mike’s queue if PAY for the privilege!

DannyB (profile) says:



Using that logic, then why should it be so bad to have statutory damages for bogus DMCA takedowns? After all, what’s a $150,000 per defective DMCA notice compared to Hollywood’s billions and billions?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nah, in their shoes I’d make it a little more blunt.

‘Effective immediately, Apple products and services will no longer be available in France due to your actions, a fact that we will be sure to let all of our most rabid followers know. If you would like us, and the taxes we pay, to return to your country, a tax break of say, 10 million will be required to entice us to return.’

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“: a tax break of say, 10 million will be required to entice us to return.’ “

The one and only problem I have with this is that Copyright France asked this of Google too. Apple just has the sense to fight back against it. It is not unreasonable to protest unnecessary taxes and in my humble legal opinion, It is the duty of all American entities and citizens to fight back against taxes that are as arbitrary as the one France wishes to impose against Apple. They not only want to impose a tax APPLE and GOOGLE for things YOU download onto YOUR iPad…they also want to tax Apple and Google because you can rip your own music to Apple and Google devices…

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Mr French Government Man (FGM) sees kid at internet cafe download a bunch of mp3 songs off of Piratebay and load them onto his iPhone.

FGM : “Sacre-bleu! Apple, give us millions of monies! Piracy!”

Kid meanwhile turns to look, shrugs, and continues to download. After all, he’s not the one paying the massive fine. Someone completely unrelated to him is.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re: Re:

You forgot…

and (with apologies to other French language areas) we will be removing all French language support from all existing Apple products. If this offends you, please address your complaints to the appropriate authorities in France while we figure out the overall costs for them to purchase a clue.

While I’m anti-proprietary hardware/software in the first place, if people are dumb enough to pay for it, consequences like this should be expected.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

No, that would be going too far, punishing those people and countries that have french as their main or only language for no other reason than speaking it. Punishing the government for unfairly going after a company like this is one thing, but punishing innocent bystanders like that is anything but acceptable.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

To be fair, they are kinda crazy up there, and it’s only the presence of the warfare simulator known as ‘hockey’ that keeps them docile, rather than invading everyone else and forcing them to say ‘ey?’ after every sentence.

Probably has something to do with the cold. Or penguins, one of the two.

Gothenem (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Honestly, I wish these multinational corporations would do this. Apple, Google, et. all could literally drive France back 30 years by saying “We are not going to pay your extortion fee, and so we are pulling out of your country until you eliminate it.”

Faced with an angry public that can no longer enjoy what other countries have, the french government would have no choice but to concede. Sure, some companies may try to fill in the vacuum, but the public wants what the public wants, and if the French government is driving these businesses away, the people will let them know what they think. I hope those politicians have ALOT of money come election time, because they will literally have to pay people directly to vote for them.

Nick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

As scary a number 5 million may seem, they make a lot more than that just operating there. If they were to pull out, they would lose a lot more than that just to protest a small amount. Unless they could get a lot more removed, or some were recurring, it wouldn’t be worth it.

It’s worth calling attention to it, and publicizing it, but actually doing something about such a paltry sum isn’t worth doing.

AndyD273 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“In light of your unreasonable demands, we are pulling out of France. Come check out our great Apple stores convenently located just across the border for all our quality products! Only a short train ride away!”

There is an Apple store in Geneva which is pretty convenient, and the Swiss seem to be pretty cool about stuff, at least from the lack of bad news about them.

Zakida Paul (profile) says:

The French are fairly loopy though.

Just recently they have decided to give 9 million Euros to help failing book retailers fight against the “destroyer of bookshops”, Amazon.

This is as bad as pledging billions to bail out failing banks. Do politicians ever learn?

Anonymous Coward says:

these ‘taxes’ would not exist if it were not for the closeness that exists between governments and the entertainment industries. i am surprised that this closeness seems to exist in all supposed democratic nations. it must then follow that the amount of money these industries pay out in bribes, because if there were no gains for politicians in the governments that keep molly coddling the industries, there would be no propping up of the industries done, must be pretty substantial. i would have thought much more than is gleaned back in all forms, from all places. that then leads to the question of why is it done in the first place? that then leads to the answer being, surely, if it isn’t the money, it has to be the control and the propping up of egos within the industries. failing that, the only other option i can think of is that the governments themselves are/will be getting something from the industries and that can only be the chance of using the surveillance that will be present via living room consoles (media streamers) that have in-built cameras and microphones, as well as movement censors and touch screens that will be conveying any and all information back to the likes of Microsoft, Sony etc who will then be giving it to law enforcement. crazy, you say? wont have long to wait!!

Anonymous Coward says:


?And, yes, technically, this tax is not supposed to be on “piracy” but on “legal copies” made, but everyone knows that argument is a smokescreen.?

Which just makes it all the more bizarre. I can’t get my head around how they think charging extra for content that has already been paid for would somehow be more OK than charging for alleged piracy.

With piracy, they have a sob story that some people sympathise with. But who the hell is fine with having to pay extra for something that has already been legally purchased?

Ldom (profile) says:

not against Apple

This tax is a big scandal and is not just against Apple. It’s the result of years of lobbying from the music and movie majors. The tax rate is proposed by a commission that is pretty much only composed of interested parties.

As a Frenchman, I’m really sick of it and in general our politicians just don’t understand the digital world. This is one more example of this sad situation.


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