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Austrian Blank Media Tax May Expand To Include Cloud Storage 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-an-actual-silver-lining-for-the-cloud dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Depending on where you are in the world, blank media may have a secondary tax applied to it. It seems ludicrous that such a tax even be considered, let alone be imposed, and yet an Austrian rights group called IG Autoren isn't happy with such a tax covering just physical media; it wants cloud storage included, too. At the moment, consumers in Austria only pay this tax on blank CDs and DVDs. IG Autoren wants to expand that to include the same range of media as Germany, but also feels that services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive etc. all fall under the blank media banner because they offer storage, and therefore should carry the tax — a tax consumers would have to pay on top of the existing price of each service."
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Austrian Blank Media Tax May Expand To Include Cloud Storage

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  • Double dipping (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:13AM (#42257863)

    Wouldn't the tax have already been paid on whatever hardware the cloud services run on?

    • Re:Double dipping (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike (68054) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:32AM (#42257953)

      The tax under discussion was supposedly to compensate artists for pirated sonfs movies etc, not just regular taxes.

      Since no one could make a rational case that the major use of disk drives was to store and distribute pirates music, the media tax never was applied to hard drives. In fact the case for taxing media for the benefit of copyright holders was rushed thru during a time when most users had very little other use of cd roms, other than to duplicate commercial cd roms. (or so the claim at the time insisted).

      So no, the tax under discussion was never paid on hardware.

      • by rioki (1328185)
        Except... In Germany the tax was paid already on the drives. So if they want to "expand that [tax] to include the same range of media as Germany" they would already get a tax on the drives. Then again they are probably trying to get people to pay a tax on services that where the hardware resides outside of Austria.

        Why does the term "looters" come to mind? Oh well, who is John Galt?
        • > Oh well, who is John Galt?

          Here you go: John Galt [wikipedia.org]

        • by Anonymous Coward

          And I thought, that such idiots are only in Latvia. In Latvia blank media tax includes not only CD and DVD media and HDD, but all memory cards and utilities with integrated memory, like photo or video recording devices as well along with phones, even if these are used for personal use - so basically this is one of the reasons to download something for free, because we have paid for it already.

        • Re:Double dipping (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fuzzybunny (112938) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @07:36AM (#42258993) Homepage Journal

          Hey, I'm fine with it, because it means that I'm no longer a pirate. All my movies, music, games, everything, will be paid already.

          Right?

          • by PhotoJim (813785)

            In Canada, there is a copyright levy on blank CD-R media (and only this media) and indeed, you are allowed to duplicate music onto CD-Rs for personal use without infringing on the law.

            The law is a bit obsolete now given that people store pirated music on hard disks and NAS devices and flash drives, but while I didn't agree with it for economic reasons, it did have some logic to it at the time.

          • by ssssch (1689160)

            Kind of. The "tax" is a compensation for those cases where you are allowed to copy without asking the copyright holder. It's called "Privatkopie" and means you are allowed to give copies to your friends and make copies for your own private use.

            And downloading music, movies,... is not illegal in Austria. Upload (distribution) is what the rightsholder has the exclusive right for.

            Games (Software) is a different case. The tax has nothing to do with that.

      • "Since no one could make a rational case that the major use of disk drives was to store and distribute pirates music, "

        You poor silly deluded fool. This case has BEEN made AND has been accepted in at least Holland (Hardware companies are suing over it).

        You are forgetting just how corrupt politicians are.

      • Re:Double dipping (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Edzilla2000 (1261030) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @05:22AM (#42258425)

        Actually, in Europe, in most of the countries (but not all), you pay a tax on every single storage media that's called "private copy tax".

        It's supposed to compensate artists for the loss incurred because of people LEGALLY copying their music (and not because of piracy, as that would be taxing an illegal practice, which is... illegal)

        It includes cd's or dvd's, but also hard drives, phones (even dumb phones with a few megs of storage...), ipods...

        In practice, it means that you get taxed when:

        - You buy a song, and store in on your ipod : you pay

        - you then transfer that song to your hard drive: you pay

        - then you decide to copy it on your phone: you pay

        The list could go on and on...

        • by radja (58949)

          yes, there's a tax on phones, drives, dvd's... but you only pay the tax once, when you buy the item. You are NOT taxed every time you copy a song from one medium to another. It's not a tax on transfer. it's a tax on devices.

          • True, but I paid for the song, then I paid for the 3 or 4 storage medium that I use to store that file I already paid for.
            Once again, as with DRM or unskippable ads, only the people who actually respect the law get the bad treatment. The rest of us buy our media in the countries where such a tax doesn't exist (Luxemburg, Andorra...)

        • Actually, in Europe, in most of the countries (but not all), you pay a tax on every single storage media that's called "private copy tax".

          The irony, of course, is that most of the content that is actually being copied is American and British, yet that's not where most of the money goes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sqr(twg) (2126054)

      No. In most countries, the tax is only levied on private individuals (in exchange for the right to store copyrighted material on the blank media, and share with friends and family). Professional users don't pay the tax, because they are assumed to store their own data.

      But even if the tax were levied on companies like Dropbox, hardware purchases are not proportional to the number of "copies" stored. If a million users store the same movie file on Dropbox, there will only be one copiy (plus backups) on their

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I like your interpretation of the tax and the rights you think you get from them.

        I have a friend in Spain, where they have a similar tax on blank media. His interpretation of it is not as a tax, but as a "fine", like they're fining him in advance for copying pirated content...so he thinks he can copy such content since he had already been fined for it. Nice concept, pre-paid fines.

        • by Sqr(twg) (2126054)

          In Sweden, the law states quite plainly that this is a tax, paid to copyright holders in exchange for the right to make copies for private use, including giving to friends and family. (The law is unclear on what counts as "friends", but apparently random bt peers don't count.)

    • Because that is the end result of this blank media tax.

    • by aggemam (641831)

      More like triple dipping, since you'd also pay for the music when buying it in the music shoppe.

  • Fine. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fished (574624) <amphigory&gmail,com> on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:14AM (#42257873)
    Fine, so long as the copyright lobby agrees that "taxed media" means "copyright license for whatever I download." Oh, wait. They don't do that?
    • by icebike (68054)

      Fine, so long as the copyright lobby agrees that "taxed media" means "copyright license for whatever I download." Oh, wait. They don't do that?

      Wasn't that the case in Canada for a while?

    • Re:Fine. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by azalin (67640) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:32AM (#42257949)

      Fine, so long as the copyright lobby agrees that "taxed media" means "copyright license for whatever I download." Oh, wait. They don't do that?

      Well that was basically the deal when the tax was introduced. People will copy music on tapes/cds and there is no way to stop them. So the labels agree that private copying is ok and get some money in exchange.
      That was back then, before the music industry decided that the losses from outdated business models and general economic decline, where because of piracy. As far as I see it, they have to choose: Either copying is illegal and therefor must not happen, OR they agree to non commercial copying and get some compensation for it (aka music flat rate). You can choose either way, but you can't have both.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Hey, wait a moment! You mean I can not have my cake and eat it too? Now that's preposterous!

        Regards,

        Austrian incarnation of the RIAA.

      • There is only one small problem with this - the people who get the money are virtually never those who produce the copyrighted contents.
        • by azalin (67640)
          That is actually a completely different problem. If the "artists" weren't so reliant on the record labels, they could have a bigger share of the cake.
          Even though I don't know the details of Austrian tax system, I guess it would be similar to Canadian one or the German Gema. Even though the Gema is inefficient and a general PITA when organizing concerts or festivals, it does result in a notable income stream for the artists. I'm not saying that these systems don't suck, but it might be an alternative (with
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        That was back then, before the music industry decided that the losses from outdated business models and general economic decline, where because of piracy. As far as I see it, they have to choose: Either copying is illegal and therefor must not happen, OR they agree to non commercial copying and get some compensation for it (aka music flat rate). You can choose either way, but you can't have both.

        Not completely mutually exclusive - copying to untaxed media (e.g., download to your hard drive which isn't taxed

    • Re:Fine. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kat M. (2602097) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:53AM (#42258047)

      Actually, in Germany (and several other countries), it largely means that. The levy on blank media, photocopiers, etc. is intended to compensate authors for the right to make copies for personal use without compensating the author or owner of the copyright. Personal use does not only include for yourself, but also family, friends, and acquaintances -- basically, it excludes commercial use and making the work available to the general public.

      Whether that works well in practice is another question (DRM is a particularly tricky issue), but that is the stated intent.

      • This is correct. Current jurisdiction is that downloading anything for personal use is legal; uploading / distributing in large quantities is not.

        • When the streaming service Kino.to was taken down, there was talk about going after the users. How, if downloading is legal?

          The current law (Â53 UrhG) contains the clause 'unless from obviously illegal sources', and that's broad and unclear enough to catch most downloaders, if needed.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Fuck that, time to push back, eliminate the taxes, and start implementing a sane copyright law.

  • More ideas (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:20AM (#42257901)

    A tax on pencils and pens.. You could use one to write down 1's and 0's.

    A tax on paper. because what else would you write your 1's and 0's on.

    A tax on empty boxes. They could be used to store pages of 1's and 0's!

    How about a tax on austria for just being fucking stupid... yeah i like that idea the best. lets tax stupid! we'll be so rich!

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guruevi (827432) <<evi> <at> <smokingcube.be>> on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:21AM (#42257911) Homepage

    - If you get infinite storage, do you have to pay infinite taxes?
    - Isn't there already a levy on the media carriers the company buys?
    - Don't most cloud storage solutions simply sync so you have already paid multiple times for each computer you own even though the media is identical?
    - When will the artists see any of these millions they must've collected so far. Every single artist should be a billionaire with the amount of media carriers produced in the world.

    • Exactly. How the fuck are they going to know how much storage I have? Are they going to track us by some national ID? Are they going to force cloud vendors to list each account owner and the amount of storage? What about blank hard drives? Are they specially taxed? What about Google Docs or Apple's iCloud? I don't pay a penny for my basic Box account, so will my tax be $0.00, or based on the storage amount?

      This is all shades of wrong.
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        Easy: when a cloud storage provider sells their service in Austria (can see that on customer's billing/mailing address or credit card or whatever), then tax has to be paid over that amount of storage. Just like blank media sold within Austria are taxed already. The customer for such services is normally known - no need for ID or whatever - because somehow the service has to be paid for.

        The government doesn't know how much storage you have. They don't care. All they care about is that when Google sells 1 TB

    • by dissy (172727)

      - When will the artists see any of these millions they must've collected so far. Every single artist should be a billionaire with the amount of media carriers produced in the world.

      If I purchase a CD I want, I am buying from the artist the rights to listen to the music on that CD.

      If the government forcibly takes my money to give to the artist because they have a CD, do I have the same rights to that music?

      In the end its still my money going to the artist purely because they created something. Sounds like in the end I should have the right to have and listen to their music (if i wanted it or not)

      I guess I should thank the government for giving me more music than I would have purchased

      • I do not know how it is in Australia, but here in the Netherlands the money BREIN used to get from empty cassettes and CD's (and nowadays probably MP3 players and harddrives) is not going to the artists. The money goes to BREIN. They have some cooked up fucked up official reason why they didn't send the money to the artists (I believe they said they couldn't figure out how to do that) but the real reason is clear as day: they are crooks and don't want to hand over money to the ones who have a right to it.
        • by badfish99 (826052)

          So, if all the money goes to the BREIN organisation, who actually gets it?
          Do they share it out amongst their employees (secretaries, cleaners,...), or does one person in charge get very very rich?

          • Seeing what people who create such options for themselves usually do I say probably option 2, although I have no proof of that.
          • by omnichad (1198475)

            What do companies normally do with profit? It's not like they don't charge overhead on distributing other fees.

          • by guruevi (827432)

            The people in charge get very, very rich in the case of BREIN. Tim Kuik not only gets a multi-million salary, he also gets his car(s), driver, offices, expenses etc. paid for. Then there are also the lawyers involved that make themselves very rich.

            BREIN over the last couple of decades has not paid out a single cent to artists, there is actually another organization in the Netherlands that has been paying the artists (only if they are part of the big-5) over the last century. BREIN actually this year wanted

        • s/Australia/Austria
    • by TheLink (130905)

      If you get infinite storage, do you have to pay infinite taxes?

      Could assume it to max out at bandwidth * 1 year payable per year. ;)

  • In Slashdot, all too frequently, we witness sniping of the US from smarmy "European" people who say that "human rights abuses do not happen in Europe." Of course these cowards never seem to tell us where exactly in Europe they are from.

    But this is just more shit from European countries, and why as a NZer I want the internet to be kept out of the hands of the UN. And why letting the EU be able to write laws in for every European country is a bad idea.

    The more power you give an organisation, the more that org

    • by ChristW (18232) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:36AM (#42257975) Homepage

      Well, I live in The Netherlands, and one of the things that we witnessed the last couple of weeks was a new law proposed by the Minister of Safety and Justice (...), Ivo Opstelten. He proposed that people who have encrypted files on their computer should be pressed into giving out their keys, "but only if they are very bad criminals, like when hiding child porn or are terrorists". Oh, so, that's OK then...

      Christ van Willegen

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TapeCutter (624760)
      I think you have the wrong thread.....and possibly the wrong medication.
    • by silentcoder (1241496) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @04:04AM (#42258095) Homepage

      >But this is just more shit from European countries, and why as a NZer I want the internet to be kept out of the hands of the UN. And why letting the EU be able to write laws in for every European country is a bad idea.

      Counter-argument: several of the worst laws introduced in Europe and the UK over the past decades have been defeated because they violated rights granted under European-Union law.
      It's become the most successful democratic watchdog in history - exactly the OPPOSITE of what you paint, not a power-holder but a power-restrictor.
      That is a very good thing. The EU in fact has only a very small amount of law-making power, but they have very strong rights-protecting and rights-establishing power - which PREVENTS the abuse of power within it's member states.
      This is not something the EU is doing- this is a proposal by the NATIONAL government of Austria - telling them to go fuck themselves is EXACTLY what the EU is FOR - and WHY the EU is actually a GOOD idea.

      Now of course (like everything else done by humans) it's not a perfect system - but if you actually follow the news - it's quite clear that the system with the EU is better than one without it would be. Some of the laws that got overturned just in Britain in the past few years for violating EU human rights clauses were truly terrifying, without the EU - nothing could have stopped those atrocities from happening.

      • Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

        Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

      • This would be a compelling argument if only the EU were a representative government.

        As it is, the EU is much like Communist China - a patriarchal oligarchy making judgments about what is good and bad for its subjects. Are these judgments actually good? We don't know, because it has never occurred to the Mandarins to ask the subjects.

      • by stenvar (2789879)

        Counter-argument: several of the worst laws introduced in Europe and the UK over the past decades have been defeated because they violated rights granted under European-Union law.

        I don't see that as much of a "counter argument". The Soviet Union and Roman emperors also occasionally did something good for their citizens, that didn't make those desirable forms of government. The EU in its current form is not a democratic institution, it is effectively an unaccountable, byzantine bureaucracy.

        Some of the laws t

  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @03:45AM (#42258013)
    Hard drives and SSD's? USB thumb drives? Cell phones? any piece of electronic gear?
  • As an American I don't really understand how the blank media tax is calculated. Is the tax applied based upon the size of the media or is it a flat tax on media regardless of size that is writable?

    If the tax is based upon media size does data duplication and redundancy factor in? If I make a mirrored drive could I get a tax rebate because I've cut the effective space of the drives in half? Or if someone comes up with a compression algorithm that increases the effective size of the drive am I liable for m

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      It's simply based on media size (in bytes) and type (phone, HD/SDD, CD, tape, USB drive). Very simple.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How is the revenue being distributed? If the money raised from this tax gets used to compensate the artists whose work has been pirated, I would not have a problem with it. If the artists are not receiving even the pittance they normally receive (proportionate to the amount that ends up with their labels) then I really cannot see any way of justifying the existence of this tax.

  • would be quite happy to pay even 99% tax rate on what I pay for google drive.
    99% of 0 = 0 after all.

    *facepalm*

    Of course if I pay taxes on media to cover piracy, that gives me the right to pirate right ? Right ?

  • Rent-Seeking: "An attempt to obtain economic rent by manipulating the social or political environment in which economic activities occur, rather than by creating new wealth." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rent-seeking)
  • Next stop; taxing the amount of pockets in your coat, because they all offer storage.

  • by mailuefterl (140499) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @04:20AM (#42258155)

    The ridiculous aspect of this tax is, that when I fill my hard disc with pictures I took myself with my own camera I would still hav to pay for example ca 15 € for a 1TB hard disc which can be bought for as little as 63€ (external USB 3.0)

    • by jonr (1130)

      Actually, this was discussed in my country when those fees where extended to CD/DVD media and drives. Technically, you should be able to go the local copyright holders office, prove that you use those disks only for your personally created content, and claim refund.

      Not much money, but probably would send a strong message if enough people did it.

      • How much is the CD/DVD tax? How much would it cost to go down to the local copyright holder's office and prove you're using those discs only for your own personally created content? I'm guessing the former costs less than the latter which creates an incentive to just pay the tax and not complain. (Not saying people shouldn't complain, but that they won't bother complaining in great enough numbers to make a difference.)

  • Seriously, if the groups are getting this greedy, then it is time to kill the tax.
  • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @04:33AM (#42258211) Journal

    > It want's cloud storage included too.

    Of course it does. Who wouldn't want free money?

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @04:35AM (#42258229)
    So if I went for "unlimited storage", would In be subject to infinite tax?
    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Yep! Just think, they've discovered a way to pay down the debts of every nation on earth!

    • Don't worry. There's an installment plan. One hundredth of infinity paid on a monthly basis for 100 months.

    • Even better, what if the cloud storage is free of charge to the end user and ad supported? Do the advertisers pay? What happens if some of the advertisers are media companies, would they end up paying (eventually back to themselves, less admin costs) for our legal personal copying?

  • They should be able to apply tax to paper as well, in fact, just about any blank surface, like a wall, your desk, a road any thing that can contain text or pictures.They should seek to apply the tax retrospectively onto primitive humans for drawing on the rock surfaces of caves.
  • If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
    If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat
    If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

    • 'Cause I'm the Taxman,

      Ye-ah, I'm the Taxman,

      And you're working

      for no one but me...

      - - -

      You can't have everything. Where would you put it? - George Carlin

  • Someone made the interesting point that:

    1. in Austria, the same copyright law that applies to creative content, Art, applies to software.
    2. But collected "tax" revenues are distributed only to "Artists", via an Artists' Rights representation group. ... SO ... should enough software people form a club to represent them,
    they could, legally, petition for income from the collected revenue ...

    The reaction of the artists to this, is predictably, "What those techies do is not creative ..."

    Artists. Hypocrites. Most

  • The point of cloud storage is that you don't have to care about the physical location of data. Cloud providers will just withdraw their storage servers from countries that tax them.

  • Today it was reported that the EU commission has submitted for review a new tax on Oxygen used while watching media. The director EU of silly taxes responded to criticism of the new tax "after years of research costing millions of Euro's we can confirm that 100% of pirates consume Oxygen while watching stolen movies or playing games so we have decided to tax Oxygen". Some questions have been raised by fellow EU members about the waiver of the tax for all EU officials especially considering how much Oxygen t

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