back to article Japan to tax MP3 players

MP3 players and DVRs could soon become more expensive in Japan, if the country’s government successfully introduces a levy on sales of these devices. According to a report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs wants to force MP3 player manufacturers to pay a royalty charge to copyright holders …


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  1. Mat

    Just watch

    piracy go through the roof!

  2. Anonymous Coward

    So presumably...

    ... this means that anyone being collared for piracy can give the defence that they've paid the levy and therefore have already financed the tracks that they've downloaded?

  3. Ru

    And for those of you buying new devices,

    I guess you can feel free to torrent a load of music, gievn that you've just effectively paid for it in tax anyway.

    Silly, silly solution.

  4. Andrew

    Immunity from prosecution for coyping

    This sort of charge is an averaged, collective punishment pre-emptively levelled against all possible offenders. Notwithstanding that collective punishments are illegal in most domestic and international law systems, I would accept this on one condition. All music sharing is legalised.

    The only reason I'd offer this compromise is that the music industry wouldn't accept it, and rightly so. Music should not be 'shared' when the producers don't want it to be.

    But if the music industry want to punish me for listening to my music on my player, while simultaneously tying my hands with laws against listening to it on my player, extending copyright indefinitely and loading the system completely against the consumer, they are welcome to shoot themselves in the foot, as they managed in Canada.

    Penguin because my computer's immune to Sony-style shenanigans.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Taxes never go away

    If they create a tax for the 'copyright holders' then their future income depends not on making and selling music, it depends on how well they lobby to get the tax increased. Since the money depends on the unit sales of MP3 players, not on their own total sales and they have minimal influence on the number of mp3 players sold.

    Do you want that? A strong lobby group funded by a tax, guaranteed a profit on the back of another industry.

    Sounds like a nightmare to me.

  6. Whitter
    Thumb Down


    This behaviour effectively legitimises illegal mp3 copying. I've bought all my stuff thanks very much, and have no desire to pay to cover the costs avoided by those that didn't. Yet again, the law-abiding get it in the neck.

  7. Steven
    Thumb Down


    Isn't this basically making people who download all their music legally pay to fund those who don't? Doesn't exactly make you want to legally download when your going to be paying for those illegally downloading it either way. What a stupid law!

  8. gothicform

    Collective Punishment

    Classy stuff. Well done music industry. Every single one of the almost 10,000 mp3s I have on my mp3 player has been legally bought and ripped from a cd. As I have been buying music for perhaps 15 years I have a rather big collection although these days I barely do because I am one of those ethical consumers. Just as I won't buy shares in a defence company I won't buy cds from a company that sues people who have never owned a computer.

    I totally utterly resent that the music industry now wants to tax because I should compensate them for someone else downloading. If they want me to stop buying music altogether they are going about it the right way.

  9. Andrew MacCormack

    Just create a memory stick with non-fucntional audio

    then allow people to download new firmware for which they should pay the MP3 tax (but of course, the firmware will be torrented...)

  10. matt

    The Line?

    Where would they draw the line on what to tax?

    Will I have to pay this tax on my new phone? PC? Car with MP3 stereo? Hard Drive?

  11. Liam

    i wonder

    who actually gets a cut of the cash? i mean, do little indie labels get the same cut at sony etc? who the hell decides on how money is split up?

    this is just another ripoff scam for society! wait for it to come here! im still under the impression that we get charged tax on blank cds as they obviously are alll used for bootlegging! im sure my boss loves knowing his legitimate business needs help finance the music industry!

  12. Henry Cobb
    Gates Horns

    Tax windoze

    Since M$ Windos includes a built-in media player that Microsoft claims to not be able to remove, clearly this software should also pay the tax.


    Alternatively, sell devices that might be MP3 players, except that they don't include the software to actually play anything and release the playing software as open source code released separately.

  13. Darren Lovell

    Ridiculous idea - potentially two royalties are being paid for one song/album

    Just like the other post not too long ago with suggestions to tax MP3 players to compensate for "lost earnings" by recording studios, I think it's a stupid idea even though it's basically an extension of an existing law. Paying a tax to copyright holders that "may have lost out as a result of illegally recorded content". It sounds very much like a "what if?" tax. What about people who pay for legally obtained music? Will they be reimbursed since they've already paid the royalty on top of the tax that pays another royalty? Not bloody likely. Like I said before, such a stupid idea like this leaves the consumer even further out of pocket (at least if they're paying for their music) and the fat cats get even fatter. No wonder the world's facing another economic recession with everything becoming so exorbitantly priced by corporate avarice.

    My money's on a tax next being placed on hard drives, flash media, recordable discs, disc writers and DVRs just in case their use causes copyright holders to "lost out as a result of illegally recorded content. After that, there will be a tax on TV sets, monitors, speakers, headphones/earphones just in case they are used to view or listen to illegally recorded content. "What if?" taxes are a joke.

    What happened to imposing fines on those who distribute illegally recorded content for profit or the copyright holders making lawsuits against those who distribute illegally recorded content for profit?

    </rant over>

  14. Steve Woods
    Thumb Down

    Abuse of tax revenue

    Taxation should be used to fund public services, not be collected for distribution to line the pockets of private business.

    This is rewarding the music industries for not keeping pace with technology and adapting their business accordingly. What the Japanese government is proposing is like putting a dinosaur on life support.

  15. Sam Liddicott

    If they are going to change the law...

    If they are going to change the law so that musicians don't lose out on illegally copied music, why don't they just make it legal?

    That would awkwardly make it a moral question rather than a legal question, and I'm sure many of those who benefit from copyright law do not want the moral question opening up for debate.

    I particularly mean those who benefit from copyright law and who are not creators or performers; but lets be clear there is a legal case and a moral case; but so often lately the legal case is being adjusted without re-visiting the moral case; perhaps we should re-visit the moral case for having copyright at all... or for so long...

  16. Roger Hutchings
    Thumb Down

    Could be worse

    Several hundred yen? So, a matter of a couple of bob.

    Don't get me wrong, the principle of the thing still stinks. But since I'm going to be one of the unlucky ones who are actually going to have to shell out as a result of this, I'm glad it's just pocket change.

  17. Mage Silver badge


    I don't see why I should subsidize Freetards.

    I buy all my DVDs and CDs.

    Heavy downloaders are less than 10% of Internet users and Internet is less than 17% of households in Ireland.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Royalty Fee

    In the states, we already pay a royalty fee. The company that I work for incorporates it into the unit as an assembly part. So, by the time it gets shipped to the customer, that royalty gets inflated (usually by a factor of three) by the retailer to cover their costs. So for each dollar we spend on the royalty, the retailer charges three.

    We also pay a 'tax' on cd-r's, dvd-r's and other recordable media that have the potential to be used for illegal copying.

    I would I would be immune to breaking DRM at that point, since I've already been accused, sentenced and punished with no jury by judge or peers.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Wow.. how crazy!

    Wow... so all those who have LEGALLY purchased CD's AND Mp3's from Amazon and all those other places will have to foot yet another bill?? That doesn't make sense. These "artist" better start making better music and we better start getting CD's made of GOLD if the people LEGALLY buying stuff have to pay taxes for this ..

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a few hundred yen...

    I wouldn't mind paying what amounts to about £2 to justify unlimited free downloads. Sounds like an excellent proposal to me.

  21. Nick Woodson
    Paris Hilton

    Could we be serious?

    The copyright holders? Aren't they usually big music companies? Somebody explain to me where the artists actually get remunerated? I kind of thought that was where this debate originated.

  22. Dick Emery
    Thumb Down

    Fat chance

    The tax does not legitimize infringement of copyright over the internet. This is clearly a case of the music industry wanting to have their cake and eat it too. Likewise if they were to introduce an 'all you can eat' fee for filesharing at the ISP level you have the same problem. People who do not fileshare would be penalized for those that do.

    The solution is simple. Revisit the entire copyright system and make it fair again. But that would lose the music and movie industry too much money now wouldn't it? Which is why they continue pouring money into politicians coffers (At least in the US) to fiddle with the laws in order to make them (The laws) work on their behalf.

  23. OldBiddie

    Maybe not

    "The tax does not legitimize infringement of copyright over the internet"

    Maybe not - but it gives leverage to a morale argument for doing so.

  24. John Sykes
    Black Helicopters

    I didn't know ...

    ... that Alistair Darling was on the board of the MBG! This would certainly be worthy of his current record and ... yes could be another stealth tax on motorists with MP3s in their cars. I'm all for artists getting their due (assuming they would), but we all know that they wouldn't get a look-in on this. GET REAL!

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