An Internet copyright levy?

In his Midem blog post A Very Taxing Situation, Ted Cohen suggests we should consider a flat rate levy/tax/tarriff imposed on ISPs to compensate for unlicensed downloads and transportation of media.

“There‚Äôs a lot of discussion these days about the idea of a levy/tax/tariff on ISPs to compensate copyright holders for the unlicensed transport of music, film and television content across the Internet and mobile carriers. Whether or not these proposed revenues would offset the 15-20% drop in physical sales this past year, it is an interesting concept to consider.”

For me this brings to mind a situation we still live with today. In some countries, the recording industry benefits from a “tax” on the manufacture and distribution of blank magnetic tapes and CDs. I wasn’t supportive of this idea, and I’m not supportive of applying it more broadly to Internet access.

If the recording industry were to get a tax imposed on ISPs, then surely other industries, with alleged copyright violations, would want a similar ISP tax. This would include: television, movies, software, book publishers to name a few. Of course, these so called taxes would be passed onto the consumer. Consumers may ultimately end up paying more in Internet copyright tax than for monthly access. Surely there has got be a better way.

I’m all for an “all you can eat” approach – but on a voluntary basis. If the ISP or mobile operator I use, offer this service at an additional monthly fee, then I should have the choice whether I want to sign up for it or not. There are many people who have a hard time paying the $9.99 NetZero price to get to the Internet each month.

Let’s not impose additional reasons to create a divide between those that have access to the Internet and technology and those that don’t.

Leave a Comment