Apple, Google, Amazon & Netflix in France’s radar with new smartphone/tablet tax

May 13, 2013
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François Hollande will receive a report today resulting from nine months of studying how the digital economy can contribute to cultural funding in France. This report will detail a plan to add a tax on smartphones and tablets, a tax which will go to pay for art & culture in France -whether it be keeping Versailles golden or public fountains clean. Historically (since the 1980s), TV stations, movie theaters, radio stations & ISPs – distributors of ‘cultural goods’ (art) – have had a tax on their revenue that went straight into keeping the Louvre pretty (among other cultural works in France); thus, as smartphones and tablets are now digital distributors of arts & cultural works in France, the report suggests that these items should be taxed.

For France, this may be killing two birds with one stone. This LeFigaro article refers to the idea that the government will finally have a way to make sure the “web giants” (hardware creators Apple, Google & Amazon – Samsung is oddly not mentioned), and the government will see a rise in contributions to cultural works that have begun to dip in recent years, partly to pirating on the internet and decreasing cinema revenues.

The second part of the report will suggest encouraging legal movie streaming sites like Netflix (who recently announced they would be halting international expansion), an idea which will include doubling down on anti-piracy fines. In relation to this news, the long-detested anti-piracy group Hadopi will be rolled into the Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel. whose role is to regulate the various electronic media in France (cf: wikipedia) – the general consensus (i.e: Numerama) is that this means that, while most were hoping that Hadopi would die a both slow and quick death, it will in fact, like a hellspawn Phoenix, be reborn from its own ashes in the form of a worse, more strict, and more active CSA.

So, today, François Hollande will receive a 2.3kg report (here) which will give a kick in the nuts to hardware manufacturers, and to any French people downloading How I met your Mother on The Pirate Bay because watching it dubbed just ruins it. Happy Monday everybody.

For an idea of what the financement de la culture entails, check out this budget layout for 2012(PDF) in France.