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Summary:

A new French court ruling raises questions about how far the country, which has robust support for artists and musicians, should go in imposing cultural taxes on connected devices.

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photo: flickr / wandering_angel

Apple must hand over 5 million euros in copyright fees it collected on iPad sales in 2011, a Paris court ruled last week. The ruling on the fees, which were eliminated in 2012, comes at a time when France is considering whether it should impose new cultural taxes on connected devices as a way of subsidizing artists.

The Grand Tribunal ruling, which was announced last week by Copie France, found that Apple must hand over a percentage of its iPad sales to Copie France even though the agency’s authority to impose the fees is uncertain. The 5 million euros, which is a provisional amount until the court makes a final ruling, is a drop in the bucket for Apple but is a symbolic victory for the copyright society.

“This is already a victory over an emblematic actor,” the head of Copie France told Le Monde. The French newspaper added that Apple and other device makers are frustrated with the copyright levy system, which raises around 200 million euros per year through taxes on blank CDs and other media, on the grounds it distorts prices between different European markets.

While the device makers successfully lobbied the French government not to expand the blank media levy in 2012, that could change in the coming months. As part of a review on how to update the country’s “cultural exception” rules, which give special status to items like books, a report last month suggested that France consider taxing devices produced by retailers like Amazon, Apple and Google.

Private copying taxes are a source of dispute within the EU where some countries view them as obsolete while others, especially France, view them as a way for consumers to contribute to the art and music they enjoy. The question of an “iPod tax” is also a hot-button issue in Canada.

The iPad tax ruling also comes at a time that France is preparing to soften its controversial anti-piracy laws, known as Hadopi, which called for disconnecting repeat file-sharers from the internet.

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  1. Rikki Robertson-Brown Monday, June 3, 2013

    Reblogged this on RRB's Video Games Blog and commented:
    I have to say I am not surprised – it still does not compare to most other big companies who have been doing the same. It still doesn’t make it right though.

  2. Horseshoe crab Monday, June 3, 2013

    Time for for Apple and others to pull their devices from the French market.

  3. France, as usual, is upside down, baffled, and confused. Upside down–they elect anti business, high tax Hollande. He does that and businesses, entrepreneurs, and companies leave for the exits. Unemployment goes up, corporate and personal taxes go down, and then Hollande’s ratings sink. The Soviets tried all that and it didn’t work well. Hollande got elected to do that and succeeded. So why would they be critical of him?

    On the support the art front, Apple, the great innovator, is under attack just as the Impressionists were in the 19th century. After safely dead the French begrudgingly accepted them, after most of the painting were bought by dreaded foreigners who appreciated their genius.

    So now the French have alienated the rich (who, as Bloomberg says, pay all the taxes in NYC, so let’s appreciate them), the entrepreneurs (leaving for London and NYC), the rich ditto, and now the device companies. The Russians did this and the US got so much incredible talent as we are now getting from the French.

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