Spanish Retailers Bow To Canon Law

Retailers in Spain have reluctantly accepted a tax on any gadgets capable of recording as a way of compensating writers for the royalties they lose through piracy.

The tax, known as "the digital canon," puts fixed tariffs on various recording and printing devices, ranging from euro 0.17 for a CD, euro 0.22 per DVD, euro 3.40 for a CD/DVD recorder, up to euro 10 for a multifunctional laser printer.

Although the new tax doesn’t affect the factory gate price of goods, manufacturers association Asimelec is backing the new charge – "the best of two evils" – because it at least makes it clear exactly how much consumers have to pay for each product.

The law comes in July 1, 18 months later than originally expected, after gadget manufacturers challenged the fairness of it because not all consumers use such equipment for illegal copying.

The tax is highly controversial and will be up for revision after a year. It’s been framed to raise between euro 110.2 million (US$171.9 million) and euro 117.8 million (US$183.8 million), the amount the Spanish government accepts the songwriters are out of pocket, and the ministry of culture will have to tinker with the figures if the gross amount collected doesn’t come within those parameters.