New "digital canon" tax proposal would hit MP3 owners' pockets

19th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

The ministries of culture and industry finally announced yesterday their proposals for the so-called "digital canon."

19 December 2007

MADRID - The ministries of culture and industry finally announced yesterday their proposals for the so-called "digital canon," a tax levied on blank CDs and DVDs, as well as devices used to make copies of digital media such as music or video files. The figures have been long awaited by consumer groups and manufacturers associations, who are vociferously opposed to the tax.

The government proposals would create a charge, for the first time, on digital format hardware. The tax on PDAs and cell phones with MP3 players would be EUR 1.50, and MP3 players EUR 3.15.  Blank CD-Rs would be charged EUR 0.17, down from EUR 0.22 at present and DVD-Rs EUR 0.44, down from EUR 0.60, while scanners will continue to have a levy of EUR 9. CD and DVD recorders will no longer see a EUR 6.61 surcharge, the figure dropping to EUR 3.40. The government hopes that the new system will come into action by mid-January.

The General Society of Authors and Editors, (LaSGAE), said yesterday that it was "satisfied" with the government's proposal, but warned the opposition Popular Party, which has hinted it will vote against the proposal, that the arts world would "take note" should it do so.

However, in another twist in the tale of this highly controversial measure, LaSGAE itself has come under fire, with two business associations claiming that the intellectual property group has been financing training seminars aimed at judges and attorneys in a bid to obtain favourable sentences in cases of intellectual property rights.

LaSGAE and other copyright management groups routinely pay for courses that teach members of the legal profession about issues such as intellectual property "in a bid to obtain preferential treatment compared with other citizens," according to the Spanish Association of Small and Medium Computer and New Technology Businesses and the Association of Hotel Businesses Victims of the Canon, who last week lodged a complaint with the General Council of the Judiciary and the Justice Ministry, accusing these copyright groups of irregular funding.

These intellectual rights groups also provide financial support for several judges, attorneys and legal secretaries' associations, the claimants said, adding that the funds are taken from the money that should be going to the artists who pay membership fees to LaSGAE. Both associations say they are acting in the name of a citizen group called Todos Contra el Canon (Everyone Against the Fee), which has collected 1,370,000 signatures against the surcharge.

"What would citizens say if, all differences aside, drug traffickers were funding training seminars for the judges, lawyers, secretaries and attorneys who must pass judgment on them?" reads the complaint.

[Copyright EL PAÍS, SL./ RAMÓN MUÑOZ / Santiago Hernández Galán 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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