France plans to impose a small tax on smartphones, tablets and computers as a way of financing and protecting French cultural activity.
The proceeds of the tax, starting at 1 per cent and possibly rising to 4 per cent, will be distributed to musicians, film-makers and authors to compensate them for their loss of royalties in the age of “free” culture on the internet.
The tax may eventually replace a larger “licence fee” already imposed on computers and other devices which are capable of downloading and storing music, films and e-books.
The new tax is one of 80 proposals made in a report to President François Hollande on how to preserve France's “exception culturelle” - the survival of its own distinctive culture - in a world dominated by the English language and the internet. The report, drawn up by Pierre Lescure, former head of the cable television channel, Canal Plus, has been broadly accepted by the government and will be turned into legislation next year.
The money raised by a one per cent smartphone and tablet tax - 86m euros each year - would supplement the money already raised by similar licence fees on the storage capacity of personal computers. The proceeds would not, in theory, fund government-sponsored cultural activities. The money would be distributed to French musicians, film-makers, game-makers and authors to replace revenues lost through the free streaming or downloading of their work by internet users.