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France Considers 'Pirate Tax' For Online Ads 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the somone-has-to-pay dept.
angry tapir writes "A report commissioned by the French Minister of Culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, urges the introduction of a tax on online advertising such as that carried by Google, which would be used to pay the creators of artistic and other works that lose out to online piracy."
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France Considers 'Pirate Tax' For Online Ads

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  • The old Motto: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rockclimber (660746) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:40AM (#30692232)
    Tax whatever you cannot understand. The question is: would that legalize downloading / Sharing since the artists are supposed to get payed?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nacturation (646836) *

      Better idea: tax creators of artistic works and use it to pay online advertisers who lose money due to fraudulent clicks.

      Oh, and the word is paid. </obgrammarnazi>

    • Re:The old Motto: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:40AM (#30692536) Journal
      Of course not, as was demonstrated by our tax on blank CD/DVDs.
      I think piracy is not the issue here. Sarkozy has tried to take control of most media in France. Now Internet he doesn't understand and he definitely doesn't like. Sounds like his mindset to attack the biggest visible gun in the "field" to try to gain some control : Google. But this bullet is a miss, like most French IT legislation this will be badly implemented and never used in court.
      • Most of the measures they want to implement are simply unconstitutional.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Totenglocke (1291680)
          Given how many times France has changed their Constitution, I wouldn't be surprised if they just wrote a new one making all of the measures legal.
    • Re:The old Motto: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:42AM (#30692540)

      I run an ad company that might be minuscule compared to google/yahoo, but does serve text ads worldwide, with web front-ends in America and UK.

      Our office, back-end and banking are in Asia. Why would I give France the time of day?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Earered (856958)

        You're not concerned.
        Contrary to what the summary said, it's not a tax for artist.

        The problem is twofold :
        - Google France declares to the french IRS 40 000 000 of revenues, while 800 000 000 coming from french companies are declared in Ireland to evade french taxes. Basically, if french money is good enough for Google to open some offices in France, they should pay taxes.
        - Content providers (the like of Slashdot lemonde.fr whatever) have seen their ad revenue decrease. There is doubts on whether it comes

    • Re:The old Motto: (Score:4, Informative)

      by ShakaUVM (157947) on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:43AM (#30692548) Homepage Journal

      >>The question is: would that legalize downloading / Sharing since the artists are supposed to get payed?

      Of course not.

      And would artists actually see any of this money?

      Of course not.

    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      Governance 101: The universal tax on potential Badness will go to pay for prosecuting and fining people who are actually caught doing Badness.

    • What I don't understand is: What is the connection between online advertising and illegal downloading of media? Those are completely unrelated. Aren't they?
      • Re:The old Motto: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:17AM (#30692648)

        What I don't understand is: What is the connection between online advertising and illegal downloading of media? Those are completely unrelated. Aren't they?

        You see, they are both done on the Internet. The internet is this scary thing that people like Sarkozy don't understand and want to control.

        So, no, they are not at all related. It only seems that way to the ignorant.

        • What if he does sorta understand? My new motto (I am too lazy to google the official name) is "Never assume naive incompetence for that which can be explained by malice *sold as* incompetence."

        • by cgenman (325138)

          The internet has been around for 15 years at this point. At first it was understandable the large swaths of people who just couldn't grasp how it works.

          But by now everyone should at least have some sense for it, especially policy makers. At this point, it's like saying you don't understand these "horseless carriage" things, and that you should be required to feed them once a day.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kemenaran (1129201)
        There is no connection, of course. In France we *love* to tax unrelated business one for each other. Last year, to compensate the lifting of advertising on public TV channels, the french government decided to tax the telcos and the ISPs. Why ? Because they're making money, so why not ? The tax has not to make any sense, it has to tax successful businesses that make money. Oh, plus Google is evil and want to scan our beautiful books — you see, another reason !
  • by chichilalescu (1647065) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:41AM (#30692240) Homepage Journal

    I sincerely believe that they should tax mp3 players more, because we all know people use them to listen to stolen music. And they should tax headphones more. And they should tax trains and buses and the subway, because that's where people use mp3 players. And I think the best way to handle it would be to tax all people who are not deaf, because they can hear music. Also, deaf people who can read, because some books talk about music, and you never know.

  • I want a tax too (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EyyySvenne (999534) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:43AM (#30692248)
    I want a tax on every refrigerator that is sold since i can't sell ice anymore...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      You know what to do. Form the IIAA(Ice Industry Association of America) and lobby politicians for FMIA(Fridge Millenium Icing Act) and start sending letters to everyone suspected of having fridges but not paying you, then use the money most of them pony up to avoid a court case to sue the ones that don't pony up, so that everyone sees that you mean business. don't forget ridiculous sums($50,000 for each ice cube you could fit in the defendants fridge). start displaying "FRIDGES ARE A CRIME AND WE WILL FI

      • start displaying "FRIDGES ARE A CRIME AND WE WILL FIND YOU" signs all over shops that sell them, much like the movies.

        That makes MORE sense than the piracy ads at the movie theater. A better analogy would be screaming "FRIDGES ARE A CRIME AND WE WILL FIND YOU" at everyone who goes out and buys your icecubes, just in case he might ever decide to get a fridge instead.

    • You want a tax on X because you can't sell Y anymore.

      X being anything at all, as long as it isn't in anyway related to Y.

      I think it is time to liberate France once more. Any volunteers to bomb them to freedom come?

  • great idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by cyborch (524661) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:45AM (#30692262) Homepage Journal
    <sarcasm>

    Make companies who actually make money online pay for those companies which do not understand how to make money online...

    </sarcasm>
    • Re:great idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:52AM (#30692292)

      Oh but they do understand how to make money. They just bribe politicians to give it to them. It's a business model, too.

  • A car analogy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:51AM (#30692286)

    In related news, France has decided to tax car dealerships to help cover the losses insurance companies suffer as a result of car theft.

    A report commissioned by the French Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand urges the introduction of a tax on online advertising such as that carried by Google, which would be used to pay the creators of artistic and other works who lose out to online piracy ... The report was written by Patrick Zelnik, Guillaume Cerutti and Jacques Toubon. Zelnik is president of Impala, a network of independent record companies

    Yeah, no conflict of interest there.

    In their report, the authors also called on the French antitrust regulator, the Authorité de la Concurrence, to look at whether Google has a monopoly on search engine and search advertising services in France, and whether the problems faced by online publishers could in any way be related to Google's business methods.

    IOW, the report explored various ways of screwing a foreign company for being too successful in a local market, having previously failed to create a successful competitor [euobserver.com] even though it had funding from the government to help it along.

    • Re:A car analogy. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:15AM (#30692406)

      The report was written by Patrick Zelnik, Guillaume Cerutti and Jacques Toubon. Zelnik is president of Impala, a network of independent record companies

      He's also the founder of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy's - the president's wife - record label. The others appear to be part of the "club" too, based on Google results...

      IOW, the report explored various ways of screwing a foreign company for being too successful in a local market, having previously failed to create a successful competitor even though it had funding from the government to help it along.

      What a bunch of losers - even with help from their corrupt buddies in Govt they can't make a successful business.

  • So to sum up, some of France's politicians are still devoted to retarding the growth of the Internet in the name of the dinosaurs of entertainment.

    Good to know.
  • by V50 (248015) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:56AM (#30692314) Journal

    Sometimes I think the Movie and (espeically) the Music industries won't be content until the government outright introduces a "media tax" and gives it directly to the industry, regardless of whether anyone wants to actually buy what they produce.

    I've got this crazy (and probably stupid) vision in my head of the RIAA and related organisations that no longer even pretends to produce something, and yet is shoveled money by the government as a way of "protecting artists" or something. Doubt it would ever get that far, but I'm sure some people in said organisations has had a similar, more sinister vision.

    Hmmm. A government agency that doesn't actually do anything, yet continues to be fed billions in tax dollars that no one wants to pay. There's a joke in there somewhere.

    • by Andorin (1624303) on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:12AM (#30692394)

      The RIAA and MPAA will be satisfied when:

      -You can't sing in the shower without paying royalties
      -Digital formats move to a pay-per-view or pay-per-listen model, where your TV or computer can count the number of heads in the room and charge you for each
      -Your Internet connection is fully monitored by your ISP (doubling your subscriber rate, but it's to stop piracy!)
      -Content restriction software becomes mandatory on every computer (this will outlaw Linux as nobody will take the time to produce a version of this software for Linux) (alternately we could just make Trusted Computing mandatory)
      -All your devices will connect to an authorization server and check a whitelist of "approved" content each time you try to play a song or whatever, and will not play any file that is not explicitly authorized (has the added effect of forcing you to buy RIAA music instead of competing indie music)
      -Fair use is abolished (has sort of happened in the US with the DMCA) and infringement is a criminal offense
      -Copyright terms are perpetual... maybe with "minus a day" put in to technically adhere to the Constitution
      -Portable storage devices such as flash drives must connect with an authorization server if you try to copy a file from them (goodbye sneakernet)
      -Use of a VPN, use of encryption, and use of Tor or any similar network is illegal
      -Having Freenet, a BitTorrent client, a client for any other p2p program, an IRC client, an email client or an IM client is illegal, since you can use any of them for piracy

      Etc etc.

      • Wait until I start to sing in the shower. They'll pay up to make me stop.

        That, and my newly invented Bagpipes Automat, which only plays random notes to ensure that no published music (past or future) is infringed.

    • until the government outright introduces a "media tax"

      Hey, funny you should mention that.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_copying_levy [wikipedia.org]

    • by backwardMechanic (959818) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:51AM (#30692814) Homepage
      Sometimes I think the Movie and (espeically) the Music industries won't be content until the government outright introduces a "media tax"

      The funny thing is we already have something like this in the UK with the TV license, used to fund the BBC. The thing is, it actually works rather well. When the BBC remember who they are, and stop trying to compete with low-grade commercial TV, they make some very good stuff - everything from News and current affairs (including a very strong web presence) through drama and comedy. And without commercials. Just so long as we give the cash to a bunch of people interested in making good media, rather than the money-grabbing lowlife who are currently destroying music and cinema, it could work well.
      • The funny thing is we already have something like this in the UK with the TV license, used to fund the BBC. The thing is, it actually works rather well. When the BBC remember who they are, and stop trying to compete with low-grade commercial TV, they make some very good stuff - everything from News and current affairs (including a very strong web presence) through drama and comedy. And without commercials. Just so long as we give the cash to a bunch of people interested in making good media, rather than the money-grabbing lowlife who are currently destroying music and cinema, it could work well.

        I think that's a great model. The trick is to identify the people who fit the mold of corporatist executive and apparatchik and feed them feet first into a wood chipper. I think a good litmus test would be asking them what they think about this idea. If they say it's a good idea, go Fargo on 'em.

      • Indeed.. and the value of media doesn't decrease when you share it between more people.

        Setting aside the cost of the broadcasting infrastructure, imagine the content that could be had if the BBC had a USA-population sized budget instead of a UK-sized one.....

        By the way - it's about $19 a month (about 5 grande latte) and we get

        • All this wonderful stuff [bbc.co.uk]
        • Commercial free
        • The commercial rate on other channels is 12 min/hr on average, not 18 min/hr like in the states (because they have to compete with commercial-fr
      • Most countries have some government supported content. These new proposals are however aimed at funneling money into only-for-profit corporations. After 90 years of consolidating power, their right to profit is virtually constitutional.
    • by sznupi (719324)

      I think there's something else going on in France, too. They are after all mighty protectionist when it comes to their, uhmm, "culture".

      I suspect that piracy helps big acts much more than the small, local ones. We seem to agree here it applies to software. Heck, even MS thinks so...

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Sometimes I think the Movie and (espeically) the Music industries won't be content until the government outright introduces a "media tax" and gives it directly to the industry,

      Sorry but wrong.

      The Movie and (especially) the Music industries won't be content until the government outright introduces a "media tax" and gives it directly to the industry and permits price fixing across the board so you have to pay tax as well as paying a hefty sum for a license (fair enough, the media cartel already price fix

  • LMAO (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rivalz (1431453) on Friday January 08, 2010 @05:56AM (#30692316)
    "The report was written by Patrick Zelnik, Guillaume Cerutti and Jacques Toubon. Zelnik is president of Impala, a network of independent record companies." They didn't even bother to get a 3rd party to write this toilet paper of a report. Isn't this basically like making the average tax payer insure a business against the possible theft of an intangible object?
    • by foobsr (693224)
      Jacques Toubon

      Also [wapedia.mobi]: " The Toubon Law (full name: law 94-665 of 4 August 1994 relating to usage of the French language), is a law of the French government mandating the use of the French language in official government publications, in all advertisements, in all workplaces, in commercial contracts, in some other commercial communication contexts, in all government-financed schools, and some other contexts."

      CC.
    • by khallow (566160)

      Isn't this basically like making the average tax payer insure a business against the possible theft of an intangible object?

      What a good idea! I'm sure Goonswarm would have liked some real money insurance on their titans [slashdot.org] (especially if the real money insurance is anything like the in game fake money insurance, heh heh heh). And taxpayers would be supporting a worthy cause (for some definition of "worthy" that probably wouldn't be commonly held).

  • Although making it primarily go to media companies is the wrong approach, taxing online ads to help fund cyber-enforcement isn't such a bad idea.

    It'll make "you're funding a dodgy site!" lawsuits more difficult for one thing but the revenue could also be used to fund prosecutions against adverts that mislead consumers. Both (legal) advertisers and consumers would benefit.

    Of course that isn't what the money would probably end up being spent on but meh...
  • by geckipede (1261408) on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:11AM (#30692386)
    My perpetual motion business is doing very badly. I propose that in order to maintain this valuable source of employment, schools, laboratories, universities and libraries are all taxed. They keep discouraging my investors...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Goffee71 (628501)
      But, my friend, the French what-will-we-tax-next office is always in motion, so I think they've beaten you to it.
  • by pev (2186) on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:16AM (#30692408) Homepage

    Well, that's good, but lets address the original problem - roads have been used for smuggling for many years so lets tax billboard advertisers for the losses incurred by overland smuggling. Petition your local lawmaker NOW!

  • Profit!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by benwiggy (1262536) on Friday January 08, 2010 @06:33AM (#30692502)

    1. Write a few cheesy pop tunes on my own label.

    2. Complain to the French Govt. that no-one is buying them -- no doubt because of all the pirates.

    3. Wait for cheque.

    I look forward to this as a fantastic money-making opportunity.

  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gmai l . c om> on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:02AM (#30692606) Journal

    When he's not stirring up racism to try to up their votes, he's busy gazing admiringly at China. But he's not alone. Bush's best friend, Bono (of soup-elevator music boy's band "U2" fame) has the same idea. "Great" minds "think" alike.

    What you don't know is that the fucktard also wants to tax inkjet cartridges(*), because he heard books are being pirated, and he obviously thinks people print ebooks. After all, that's how he reads 'em fancy newfangled electronic males.

    --
    (*) I'm not kidding.

  • the idea that distributors (oh, you thought this was about artists?) need to permanently derive an income because they once had an oligopoly is madness. no, they will die away, and artists will make cash directly from their fans via ancillary revenues (concerts, ads, endorsements, personalized content, etc)

    recorded music will serve the same function that free radio once did in a previous era. a previous era that is dead. its dead, you do understand that, right?

    furthermore, there's no law or enforcement that

  • by SharpFang (651121) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:52AM (#30692818) Homepage Journal

    ...will be a crime of tax evasion.

  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Friday January 08, 2010 @07:53AM (#30692820)

    The key question is if this tax will in fact be used to help the artists or will it be yet another way for media conglomerates to suck on the government's tit while the artist itself, the creative mind responsible for creating a work of art, will continue to get the shaft and continue to be relegated as simple temporary worker, receiving nothing more than a symbolic compensation for a one-off job. This is particularly sickening due to the fact that media conglomerates, which are thriving, are using their power and influence to not only avoid compensating any artist but also to screw the entire world out of their culture and their rights to access works of art without being subjected to the whims of a totalitarian gatekeeper.

  • Every time a significant portion of my posts is quoted, that is a slight, but non-zero infringment on my creative works.

    Therefore, I demand that forum posts be included as part of the metric for determining who gets paid. This demand is every bit as cromulent as the demand to extract money from an unrelated party to pay for a supposed violation on a subset of the total creative works that are actually being infringed upon.

  • Every time I see taxation used in ways other than to support the common good in some way such as government services, infrastructure or the like, I have to protest. I have to protest especially when taxes collected are awarded to parties who did not earn or work for it as "compensation" for an offence that no one has been charged with. This does not define taxation as much as it describes "FINING!" In short, the entire population is being fined without due process.

    What's worse, of course, is that the fin

  • The game is a'foot! First show concern for a non-problem and then propose a solution that will create more government jobs and stuff the government with more money. Ignore the fact that musical artists as well as others often have higher sales driven by the advertising effect of pirated materials.

  • It's coming, The French Revolution Part Duex!

  • ... just don't show ads to users in France.

  • Oh, that's right, paying taxes is a privilege.
  • Besides being dumb on the cause-and-effect level, this is bound to be unfair. Which artists get a cut of the tax money? Anyone who claims they've been pirated? Whoever the culture minister likes?

    The slogan should be "a stupid tax to fund croneyism."

  • ... wasen't it a frenchman [Flaubert?] who said "The art of taxation is plucking the goose with the least amount of squawking?" So taxes should make sense if they are to be effective.

    Taxing on-line ads would do nothing to impede piracy. Less than a bandwidth tax. It would be ultimately paid for by the customers of online advertisers, most a tax on online products and services. I have no doubt the French govt would like to tax these to save their bricks-and-mortar over whom they have more control. Onlin

  • by Descartes123 (1303497) on Friday January 08, 2010 @11:21AM (#30694768)
    I get tired of the focus on music and video. Piracy takes place in all industries and is something everyone else just has to deal with.

    Consider any company that has invested millions of dollars in building a brand or educating the consumer on their product (let alone the R&D) and along comes someone who decides to market a knock-off. The knock-off is pirating the marketing of the original company. The MP3 is a knock-off of the original media. Sometimes the knock-off designer purse or golf club is exactly the same material and quality as the original. It's the same issue.

    I have spent millions marketing products before and have had to deal with 'copy' products. No one has offered to implement a tax and reimburse me for my losses.

    I hate it when it happens. I could make considerably more money if it didn't happen. In reality though the fact that it happens is actually in the consumer's best interests. If I spend lavishly on marketing, that doesn't improve the quality of the product the end user buys, it merely means more people will pay more money for the same product. The piracy factor puts a cap on the marketing dollars I spend on a product and it puts a cap on the premium I can charge. If I spend lavishly on marketing or make my profit margin too high, the piracy gets worse. The piracy forces me to cap my marketing costs and profit margin and keeps in check the end price paid by the consumer. I'm forced to provide a product of 'value' where the margins between manufactured cost and sell price aren't too high to invite pirates and that pressure actually works in the consumers best interest.

    Want to end music piracy? Drop the price of a download from $0.99 to $0.25 or $0.10 even. The increase in volume will make up for the reduced margins. 50 Million sales at $0.25 is still some good revenuce for a single track. Rampant piracy is symptomatic of consumer gouging. If these forces make all other industries respect consumer value, why should the music industry be any different?

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