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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Charles K. (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:38pm

    They Have to tax Something

    Now that y'know people don't need blank CDs as much any more and sales have slipped, it seems pretty logical that the tax that was formerly applied to them be transitioned to the medium that replaced them.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:42pm

    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!!!

    /complete_and_utter_idiocy_and_lunatic_delusion

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:44pm

      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 voilá you got your TV tax.

       

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    Actually you'd have a stronger case asking for a levy on all RAM sold. It's unlikely that very many TD page views make it to the hard drive. However seeing this is just a "Modest Proposal" to begin with, you can really just ignore my comment.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    John Doe, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    au contraire

    this is not (as some believe) a blanket license to infringe

    Oh yes it is! As soon as something like that takes place in the US and costs me money, I will pirate so much that Blackbeard will be jealous. As it is now, I don't pirate anything. But let them tax me like this and I will get my money back 1,000 fold.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      AJ, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:47pm

      Re: au contraire

      Indeed. Your going to take my money, I'm going to get the product. One way or another....

       

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

    •  
      icon
      Ninja (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:47pm

      Re: au contraire

      I file share now. But if I have to pay such fee it means the artists will be getting the money without any action from my end so I might as well as stop buying legitimate stuff and save myself the money.

      It's an altruistic tax, it's collective funding of creativity!

       

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

      •  
        icon
        fogbugzd (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:50pm

        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.

         

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

    •  
      icon
      :Lobo Santo (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:50pm

      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.

      ;-P

       

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

    •  
      icon
      MindParadox (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:17pm

      Re: au contraire

      too late, CD's and other blank media are already taxed like this in here in the good ol U.S.T. (United States of Taxation)

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 5:55pm

      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."

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00001004----000-.html

       

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

  •  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 12:55pm

    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!"

    *smirk*

    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?

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    My comments are an integral part of why people in Sweden come to your site. I want my cut too.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    My comments are an integral part of why people in Sweden come to your site. I want my cut too.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    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.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    The road ahead...

    for anyone who wants to see where this is all going:

    World's Most Outrageous Taxes
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6vbJtdrz1c

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    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.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    STJ, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    I think that anyone who buys a blank key should have to pay an extra tax to go to law enforcement. After all, if someone makes a copy of a someone else's home key and uses that to break in, then the police have to come. This would help paying for that.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:35pm

    Another genius post... td has said repeatedly that td is free and that anyone can use the content. Even if your 'cut' was 100% of the price a user pays for td then your 'cut' is still zero. I'm sure Sweden will happily agree to give you nothing. I guess your economics education is failing you here.

     

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

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:11pm

      Re:

      I think you missed the part where you have to read the article before commenting.

       

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

    •  
      identicon
      Prisoner 201, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:11pm

      Re:

      People who own the rights to movies that are so crap that no one would buy them will get a cut.

      How is that more fair than TechDirt gettin a cut from my USB backup drive?

       

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

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:02pm

        Re: Re:

        I did not say that any of this was a good idea and I said nothing about what is fair. I said that 100% of zero is zero. I find it interesting that a self proclaimed economics expert failed to notice that.

         

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    It's the same reason hotfile isn't giving you a cut every time someone downloads your posts that someone has "stored" on their site.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Tor (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:15pm

    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.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    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.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    Andrew (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    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.

     

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

  •  
    icon
    ike (profile), Sep 1st, 2011 @ 4:23pm

    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.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 6:42pm

    http://www.focus.com/fyi/10-big-businesses-that-have-moved-abroad/

    While the people pay taxes the companies keep going elsewhere to not have to pay taxes.

    Funny how things work.

     

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

  •  
    identicon
    darryl, Sep 1st, 2011 @ 6:56pm

    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.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This