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While copyright enforcers around the world wish they had leaders as daring and aggressive as Frances President, Nicolas Sarkozy. Very few of the world’s leaders are as aggressive in protecting copyright as he is and he proved it again Thursday during a speech to members of the country’s creative community when he endorsed some controversial pro-copyright proposals.
His plans include taxing Google, Search Engines, Web portals, and Internet service providers and turn that revenue over to the music and publishing industries, according to reports in multiple French newspapers and news services. Clearly he is not happy with copyright infringement via the Internet. Sarkozy’s wife, Carle Bruni-Sarkozy is also a well known singer and song writer.
Under the plan, the government would also partially subsidize “music cards” that the country’s youth could use to buy songs online and France would require the music industry to release song files that “play on all platforms”. I guess that means no more DRM ( Digital Rights Music )
Sarkozy said high on his New Years wish list will be to ask the country’s “Competition Authority,” which guards against antitrust violations, to investigate Google for possible “abuse of its dominant position” in the online ad market. And of course, Google weren’t too happy with that. On Friday Google said levying more taxes would threaten innovation and pointed out that competition in France’s ad market thrives.
“Online advertising accounts for only a little more than 10 percent of total advertising in France,” said Olivier Esper, Google France’s policy manager, in a statement. “We are only one player out of many that focuses on online advertising…plenty of competition exists in the advertising world.
Sarkozy said that it isn’t fair for Internet advertisers to pay taxes only in the countries where they are based. He said that Google’s European headquarters is in Ireland, but the company sees plenty of clicks and money from ads in France, and that people from that country should be compensated.
What’s more, last month, a Paris court ruled that Google’s scanning of French books violates the country’s copyright laws. The court ordered Google to pay a French publisher the equivalent of $430,000 in damages and set a fine of more than $14,000 each day that Google continued to display snippets from books.
“Google makes a big investment in France,” Google’s Esper said. “We make a substantial contribution to local and national taxation. But the fact is that our European headquarters is in Dublin.”We comply fully with the tax laws in France and it would be wrong to think of Google’s revenues from French advertisers as solely the result of operations carried out locally.”
It’s certainly clear that France is not happy with Google and their dominant position and seem to be blaming them for everything! With regards to the music cards, it is suggested that each card would be worth €50 and that the government would put up half that money. The rest would be paid by the card owner and music store.
France are really going after copyright infringement, and not only after Google. In October, they passed the 3 strikes anti-piracy law. This calls for those accused of illegally downloading content to be warned multiple times to stop. If they fail to stop, they face a government agency that has the power to shut off their Internet access!