Smartphone tax on the way

Internet watchdog Hadopi to be shut as France bids to stop piracy by cutting down film delays

13 May 2013

A TAX on smartphones, tablets, MP3 players and internet-connected televisions could be set in place as France gets rid of the Hadopi anti-piracy agency and puts new copyright protections in place to stop theft.

One of President Hollande’s election promises, getting rid of Hadopi has been supported by former Canal + chief Pierre Lescure in a 400-page report weighing in at nearly 2kg.

Lescure suggested transferring the agency’s powers to the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel, the present broadcasting watchdog, and maintaining its system of graduated response with warning letters to internet users illegally downloading copyright material. However, the Hadopi sanction of cutting off internet will not be retained and a €60 fine will be used instead.

Containing 80 recommendations, with Lescure admitting none of them was “revolutionary”, the report addresses changes in internet usage, copyright protection and the French “cultural exception”.

He said a major problem was the delay between films, games and TV shows being released and their being available on paid Video-on-Demand (VOD) services. He wanted to reduce this drastically to cut illegal downloads.

France was, he said, the only country where people had to wait a year to see their favourite foreign TV shows and said that this should be addressed quickly as it was an “incitement to piracy for reasons that are ‘too French’”.

Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti said this would be one of her priorities and is organising meetings with industry leaders.

Lescure said that creative companies – many European - were seeing their businesses affected by piracy while internet-based businesses – mainly foreign – were growing and it was unfair that the traditional TV and cinema businesses should be the only ones to pay for the “French cultural exception”.

He suggested a 1% tax on systems that can access the internet in the “interests of fiscal equality”. It would raise €86million a year to support creativity in France.
Photo: Aaron Amat - Fotolia.com

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