Last year the Dutch tried to tax all MP3 players, but that proposal didn’t make it into law. But not to worry, they have other brilliant ideas. Earlier this week, Dutch politicians suggested that it might be a good idea to tax Internet traffic, and use this money to compensate the music industry. This, under the condition that DRM is abandoned, and people can’t be charged for downloads. Say what?
Recently Dutch Record Companies decided to no longer use copy protection on CDs because the costs didn’t outweigh the benefits. Politicians are now looking for alternative ways to compensate the Music Industry.
Martijn van Dam, a member of one of the bigger political parties in The Netherlands said, “Taxing Internet traffic is great way to compensate the Music Industry for the loss in sales by illegal filesharing”. He added that a prerequisite would be that DRM and copy protection should be abandoned. The battle against piracy is lost according to Van Dam, he says that the Music Industry has to accept that their products will be traded over the internet.
Surprisingly, Van Dam is not alone in this. Nicolien van Vroonhoven, a politician from the leading party (CDA) in the Netherlands, also thinks that this pirate tax would be a good idea. She adds that this could only work if people can’t be charged for downloading music anymore.
The statements (Dutch source) from these leading politicians basically say that piracy should be condoned, as long as Internet traffic is taxed. Although the (hypothetical) model might sound appealing to some, it is not very practical. First of all, illegal music downloads are just a small percentage of all files that are swapped illegally. What about movies and software, will those companies be compensated too? And an ever bigger problem, these politicians seem to assume that all internet traffic is generated by illegal downloads. What about sites like YouTube, or software, music and videos that are released for free? These all generate a lot of traffic, but have nothing to do with piracy.
A bad idea if you ask me. It is good to see that politicians are exploring alternative methods to overcome piracy, but this one is quite ridiculous. This clearly shows how alienated politicians sometimes are from the real (or virtual) world.