UK Gov't Considers Google Tax?

from the but-why? dept

Calvin was the first of a few folks to send in this story about how some in the UK gov't are discussing a series of different proposals to raise tax revenue to pay for the production of news programs on TV, with one option being creating a search engine tax, directed at Google. It seems that basically everyone admits there's no actual justification for the tax other than "Google is making a lot of money, and we need that money." Of course, it's worth pointing out that it sounds like the discussions are still quite preliminary and there are plenty who don't think it's a very good idea. The same group has also been tossing around suggestions for a broadband tax or a digital download tax that would be used in the same manner. Considering how early on the discussions are, it doesn't seem like much to get worked up about, but it is quite silly that this is even up for discussion in the first place. As people point out in the article, this would be taxing a successful growing company, helping to slow down its growth, to help fund an operation that hasn't been growing. That doesn't seem likely to help the economy very much.

Filed Under: search engines, tax, uk
Companies: google

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  1. identicon
    Duane, 4 May 2009 @ 12:10pm

    There may be a kernel of wisdom here...

    I think that this is a deplorable money-grab by typical short-sighted politicians. Plain and simple, no bones about it.

    But, In the way that things sometimes occur, it has sparked a hair-brained idea in my mind. First, sweep away all the trappins of traditional broadcast TV. (tall order that, but this is hypothetical) Imagine for a minute with me a hybrid content delivery system, based on Internet sttreaming, Internet downloading, and (possibly) traditional cable/broadcast formats as well. Borrow a little bit from the UK's model, and license every TV, computer, MID, etc. upon which you can receieve content (whether or not you do) which is personally owned by an individual, or installed in a residence, with a monthly fee to be paid in. Content distributors (youtube, your local cable co, broadcasters, etc.) and content producers (you, me, professional production companies, etc) would get paid out based on the number of relative views in a given month their content generated, or whom they served content to, on a simple mathematical basis. Content delivery and Content production each get half, so if I produced (for instance) 1% of all the video views this month (probably prorated based on the length of the product), then I get 1/2% of all the money brought in across the whole system. Professional content producers who make a quality product would be expected to beat out most of the silly cats, guys getting hit in the crotch and other assorted oddments which are all over YouTube. Downloaded or time-shifted content could be tagged, not with restrictive DRM, but with a code which allows the player software to check in with a server somewhere to tally the playtime used. Content distributors would be free to add advertisements to the content, if they feel the market will bear it, and that may be how broadcasters would continue to offset their higher operating costs. Content producers could supplement their income by doing product placements, or producing entertaining shows which are also advertisements. The tradeoff here would be that any content put into the system would be freely playable by anyone subscribing to the system (which would effectively be everyone), for as long as it is available to them for viewing (forever if they downloaded it).. the flip side is that content producers can keep getting paid out each month for people viewing their content. The other stipulation is that it's an open platform. Any distributor may publish any content they like, and no exclusives or restrictions can be placed on the works by the content producers.

    Of course the technology behind such a platform would need to be solid and as unobtrusive as possible to the end users. Some kind of a content clearinghouse might be needed, since the concept of "networks" might be obsolete.

    Of course, I'm talking about video content here, but you could just as easily do something with music, audiobooks, e-books, any kind of digital media whose consumption can be measured. If you look into print-on-demand publishing, you might be able to replace all of the traditional book establishment with this kind of system too, perhaps with the end-user paying a printing fee for having the digital goods translated into a physical form. If you wanted to burn up your own printer, you could do it at home, but a kiosk-sized machine could perhaps produce a bound book while you shop in the mall.

    Wow, I went far afield wit that, and I realize none of that is exactly new, but it's a business model that would virtually eliminate piracy as we know it, because everyone would be paying into the system anyway, so there would be little need to restrict the flow of information. This would put the MPAA and RIAA back in the business of getting the word out about their fine products, and not acting like a private police agency. Of course, this is a pipe dream, but I had fun dreaming it.

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