'Digital tax' opposed in Spain

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MADRID -- A group of professionals and consumers rallied against the Spanish government's plan to impose a "digital tax" on the sale of electronic equipment this week.

The entity todoscontraelcanon (which translates to "everyone against the decree"), formed by 26 consumer and professional groups, turned in a petition of more than 1 million signatures to Spain's Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism in an effort to stop the tax that would be imposed on audio, video, communication and computer equipment, including multimedia phones, DVDs and MP3 players.

The tax is designed to compensate authors for their rights from the private copying of film, music or library material.

The government is set to decide how much and which equipment to tax next week. Electronics equipment providers demand that it be no more than 5% of the cost of the product so as not to distort the market, but authors' rights groups argue that the cost to their clients is much higher.

"The consumer's behavior enriches the manufacturers at the cost of hurting the authors," Pedro Farre, director of corporate relations for author's rights group SGAE, told local media. "The technology industries sell more, the more legal and illegal copies are made, and the tax tries to mitigate that reality."

According to reported figures, the new tax would see Spaniards pay €12 ($16) on a 4GB MP3 player, compared with Germany's €2.56 ($3.40) and France's €8 ($10.60).

Presently Spaniards pay a tax on CDs and DVDs. The present model sees a €0.60 (80 cents) tax on a 4.7GB DVD or a €0.47 (62 cents) tax on a 700MB Audio CDR.

"We don't only reject the tax, but introduce rational elements so that it doesn't happen as it has happened with CDs and DVDs," said Miguel Perez Subias, president of the Association of Internet Users and a member of the platform. "Now the tax is more than the price of the product, and that makes the consumer turn to the black market."
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