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French solution to illegal download and copyright infringement - tax Google and Yahoo

The French government commissioned a study to determine solutions to the problems of downloading copyright protected movies and music. The panel's recommendation is to tax search engine companies
Written by Doug Hanchard, Contributor on

The French government commissioned a study to determine solutions to the problems of downloading copyright protected movies and music. The panel's recommendation is to tax search engine companies, funding new portals that would make available legal ways for consumers to access copyright materials. In a Globe and Mail post, the government's Minister of Culture, Frederic Mitterrand;

The plan "seemed inevitable to us, if we want to maintain a certain pluralism in the culture world" and prevent the "endless enrichment of two or three world players who will impose their cultural formatting on us," Patrick Zelnik, a record producer who helped lead the mission, was quoted as telling Liberation newspaper.

This idea is similar to how blank VCR and music tapes were taxed in some countries to distribute to the music industry in the 1970's and 1980's. Google's response in the article was polite but clearly concerned;

Google appears cool to the idea, but sought a conciliatory tone. Google France's public affairs director said the company told the mission it wanted "co-operation between Internet players and the cultural fields to develop new models."

Olivier Esper said there were opportunities to promote innovative solutions "instead of continuing on a path that opposes the Internet and the cultural worlds, for example the path of taxation."

It's unknown what the RIAA or MPAA think of this approach. The complexity of creating the taxation method and how it is applied certainly would cause significant challenges and how tax revenues would be distributed. Such a program would likely face stiff resistance if a similar proposal was suggested in the United States and Canada.

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