French groups seek tax awareness

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PARIS -- Fifty French cultural and audiovisual organizations have mobilized to support the country's private copyright laws by creating a mandatory label to make the public aware of the cultural benefits of the tax.

Every cultural event benefiting from private copyright funds will place a logo on all forms of communication and advertising, with the aim of raising public awareness of the tax's positive cultural consequences.

Since 1985, a tax has been imposed on the purchase of any technology used in the copying of music or images (blank CDs or DVDs, USB keys, digital recorders, cassettes, etc.), with 75% of the proceeds benefiting artists and the other 25% contributing to cultural events throughout the country.

For example, the purchase of a €259 ($346) iPod nano would see €8 ($10.70) reserved for such cultural groups as filmmaker organization the ARP, producers' union PROCIREP, actors' society ADAMI and music royalties organization SACEM.

More than €40 million ($53.4 million) was contributed to 5,000 cultural events in France last year thanks to €7.3 billion ($9.7 billion) in sales of electronic products throughout the year, a 17% jump from 2005.

The new labeling effort comes after the makers of electronic technology appealed to the European Union months ago to decrease the tax on their products. Since October, artists, producers, editors and festival organizers have been coming together to protest potential tax reforms, arguing that such royalties are indispensable to the development of the country's culture.

"The private copy law needs to live for as long as possible," director Pierre Jolivet said Wednesday at a Paris press conference. "This 25% is fundamental for artistic creation."
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