A call by an author’s group in Austria to expand taxes levied on storage media to include systems such as hard drives and cloud storage has led to concerns that consumers in that country could be forced to pay to access services such as Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
The group, which goes by the name IG Autoren (Author’s Syndicate of Austria), made the following announcement in its latest newsletter:
“We want not just a hard disc levy, but a levy for using the cloud, and we want that for each use of our work,”
IG Autoren’s demand comes as Austria’s authorities are carrying out a review of the country’s copyright laws. The review has attracted the interest of numerous groups that have made submissions.
However, IG Autoren faces a tough battle if it’s going to get its way. A lobby group opposed to levies on storage media has already been setup, and includes powerful names such as Apple, Samsung, HP, Canon, Dell and Sony among its members.
Arguing against the imposition of levies, the group warns that ‘innocent’ consumers could be forced to pay annual fees to access cloud services. Such a move would lead to “double taxation” on computers and mobile devices that consumers have already purchased and paid tax on.
Several European Union countries levy taxes on storage media, in order to compensate copyright holders for losses they incur due to piracy. However, the practice has recently come under scrutiny, with IT vendors and industry associations demanding that new forms of compensation be created to replace these fees. Vendors claim that alleged losses due to piracy of $51 million a year are “excessive” and “totally unfounded”.
For their part, copyright holders have insisted that the taxes are still justifiable, given the lack of alternative suggestions.