More Details On Isle of Man's Music Tax Idea: One Euro Per Year

from the better-and-better dept

We wrote earlier about comments made by a politician from the small island of the Isle of Man, suggesting that the government there implement a music tax on its broadband subscribers. The Register's done some more digging, and spoken to the island's e-commerce minister, who suggests the implementation of a one euro per year music tax (thanks to TD reader Ben Robinson for pointing it out in the comments), with an opt-out available to those who don't want to pay. While that sounds great for consumers, it's almost a laughable amount. As another commenter on our earlier post pointed out, one euro per year probably won't even cover the cost of the bureaucracy to collect and redistribute the tax. The minister told El Reg, "If you take a Euro a year from millions, then that's a lot of revenue." Perhaps, but it pales in comparison to the billions the music industry currently earns. For instance, the UK has some 16.5 million broadband subscriptions -- charging each one of them a pound or euro per year would pale in comparison to the one billion pounds the record industry in that country currently generates. Also, while it's nice that the minister recognizes that people shouldn't be forced to pay the tax if they don't want to, why must it be an opt-out system, rather than an opt-in one?

Let's take that a step further: why should the government get involved at all? If the record labels are interested in developing some sort of blanket licensing system, let them do it, and figure out how to collect and redistribute the fees. Of course, they've shown little interest in voluntary systems, preferring to go directly to ISPs or to universities. Currently governments, ISPs and universities don't force people to buy CDs; they shouldn't start forcing them to pay for music downloads either.

Filed Under: isle of man, music tax, tax haven


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  • icon
    Mike (profile), 21 Jan 2009 @ 3:38pm

    that doesn't sound right...

    At the lunch where this was announced, the guy said one euro per MONTH. I'm guessing the guy in the article above misspoke...

    Still, I'd actually argue that the "value added services" claim isn't so far-fetched -- and, in fact, that's exactly what we're seeing musicians from NIN to Jill Sobule to Marillion to others doing... the value added services, in fact, could make it so the "blanket license" shouldn't need to cost anything at all...

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  • identicon
    Rekrul, 21 Jan 2009 @ 7:44pm

    It doesn't matter if the initial amount is really low, the important thing to them is to get the plan implemented. Then they can steadily raise the amount.

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  • identicon
    Rick Sarvas, 22 Jan 2009 @ 6:34am

    -

    Sadly, I suspect Rekrul is correct. Even more so when you consider the annual price hikes by cable companies supposedly in response to pricing increases by the various content industries. One euro is a very fair and attractive price IMHO, but one that will not most likely remain that way.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jan 2009 @ 6:35am

    Rekrul is right on the mark. You have forgotten one of your own theories, that there is larger jump from 0 to something, than in raising something to something higher (generalized).
    Each time the government has a shortfall, they will immediately look to start raising "sin" taxes. Gas, tobacco, music, etc. Within a year or two, that one euro will become 100 euros.

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  • identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 22 Jan 2009 @ 9:55am

    A Legal Trick.

    When something valuable changes hands for a token sum, such as a dollar or a Euro, the purpose is generally to legally make a gift into a sale, in order to take advantage of the laws pertaining to sales.

    For example, I don't know if anyone here will know what the phrase "dollar-a-year-man" means. Back during the Second World War, corporate executives would go to work for the government, for the sum of a dollar a year. This had the effect of making the executives into civil servants or army officers, as the case might be, and their companies went on paying them their usual salaries, and most of them worked at organizing civilian industry for war production. As government servants, they were entitled to see government files, etc.

    I don't know enough about British import law to grasp the significance of the Manx proposal. However, I would bet that someone who does know, has carefully crafted the proposal in such a way that everyone in Britain could be Manxmen for purposes of legally buying music at a token price. Britain is not part of the Euro Area, so there is probably some legal significance to the token payment being quoted in Euros instead of Pounds Sterling, probably an attempt to link in European Union law.

    This would probably work in much the same way that Indian Gaming works in the United States. There is always an Indian reservation within reasonable excursion distance of a major city, and that Indian reservation has a casino... In Europe, the equivalent function is performed by residual medieval royal lordships. At one point, SCO was proposing to get around the General Public License by taking a copy of Linux onto the Cherokee reservation, and off again. That would probably not have worked, but the reservations might very well develop their own music service-- paying a dollar per year per subscriber to the RIAA. Legal anomalies do not work against fundamental public policy, of course, but they provide a convenient pretext for dealing with universally hated pests such as the RIAA.

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  • identicon
    fnberger, 22 Jan 2009 @ 10:22am

    at least...

    i welcome the efforts to legalize p2p. be it at a cost of one dollar/euro per year, month or week. artists need to be compensated anyways, the music publishing industry be damned.

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    • identicon
      nasch, 22 Jan 2009 @ 1:50pm

      Re: at least...

      p2p is already legal, it's copyright infringement that's illegal. There are numerous problems with this plan, but for one, would the IFPI or whoever it is really stop prosecuting and persecuting their customers if the tax went into effect?

      They've already put in place blank media taxes, and so we should be able to copy any of their music we want onto those and distribute them however we want, right? But what do you think would happen if you bought a Britney CD, and then started selling burned copies of it outside of a Britney concert? Think everyone would be ok with that? Not a chance. I would think the same thing would happen here. They'll get the tax in place, and yet continue to pursue the "piracy" that is already being paid for by the tax.

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


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