The copyright industry never seems to have had enough. Starting today in Sweden, they demand a private tax for external hard drives and USB memory sticks.
The tax they demand is about 9 euros for an external hard drive, or 10 eurocents per gigabyte for USB memory sticks. They have previously demanded a tax for cassette tapes, which was how this private taxation right started, and gradually expanded it to blank CDs and DVDs, as well as media players with built-in hard drives. Yes, that includes the latest game consoles — Swedish kids pay about 15% tax to the copyright industry on a Playstation 3.
This stems from the entitlement that since you theoretically can make legal copies of your media onto blank storage, the copyright industry demanded — and got – compensation for this hole in their monopoly.
Thus, it is important to remember — as is pointed out in this morning’s press release from the Swedish Pirate Party — that the blank media taxation right isn’t intended to cover the imaginary losses from file sharing online. It’s intended to cover a completely different imaginary loss, the one from when you copy your purchased media onto blank media in your own home.
Thus, they are getting away with demanding money for actions that are even explicitly outside of the copyright monopoly. Demanding compensation for violations of your monopoly is one thing; demanding compensation for actions outside of your monopoly is something else, and demanding compensation for the theoretical possibility of such actions lands us at where we are.
We’ve now arrived at a point where they can demand and get away with anything, apparently.
Just because you can theoretically store their crappy music on a general-purpose storage device, which you probably never will, they have been given the right to tax you. More likely, you use external hard drives to store vacation and family photos, or backups of your work.
It remains to be seen if they actually get away with this tax demand, though. The electronics business in Sweden has said “take a hike” and will meet the copyright industry in courts over their interpretation of the taxation right.
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About The Author: Rick Falkvinge
Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.
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