Why A Music Download Tax Is A Bad Idea

from the unintended-consequences dept

In the last few weeks, a lot of folks have been submitting the story about the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) proposing a $5/month "tax" on ISP connections, which could then be used to reimburse songwriters and musicians for downloading. I've resisted writing about it, because it's been discussed at length in the past when it's been suggested. The one difference here is that a group of musicians is actually supporting it. However, Michael Geist does an excellent job explaining why it's not a very good idea. Beyond pissing off those who don't feel they should subsidize the rest of the industry, it's not at all clear it's necessary. There are plenty of other business models that the music industry can use to support musicians and songwriters that don't require a special tax. However, the biggest reason, as Geist points out, is the second you do this, plenty of other industries will come out of the woodwork demanding a special fee get applied to internet connections as well. Newspapers that think Google and Craigslist are "stealing" from them will demand a special "news tax." And then think of all those other industries who claim they're being impacted by the internet. You'll have a special auto-mechanic's tax, to pay for mechanics who are upset about the DIY info found online. The "knitting tax" for all the free knitting patterns online. I understand that AAA may be upset about Google maps. Travel agents want that "travel tax" to pay for all that business that Expedia has cost them. Where does it stop?

Filed Under: canada, downloads, isp tax


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  1. icon
    John (profile), 26 Feb 2008 @ 4:35pm

    Re: hotel tax

    Actually, a story about this was done on 20/20 a few weeks ago: yes, hotels commonly add on a "resort tax", even for features you don't use.
    The 20/20 story was about hotels who offer low room-rates, but then add in "resort fees", for such things as massages, pool towel usage, and more.
    If you complain (and that's a big IF), they might give you your money back. But how many people will complain?

    However, back to this story- I agree with the other posters than a "tax" like this will just open the doors for anyone else who wants to get subsidies from the government.
    Today, it's the musicians/ RIAA relief tax. Then it's the actors/ MPAA relief tax. Next it's the AAA/ map-makers tax. Before long, you'll be paying twice as much for internet service simply because of these "relief taxes"... which we've all come to realize simply pay for supporting an obsolete business model.
    But, hey, why innovate when you can get the government to charge taxes on your behalf?

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