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Dutch drop €3.28 per gig levy on MP3 players

Latest 'iPod' tax not much better

A controversial proposed tax in the Netherlands on MP3 players of as much as € 3.28 ($4.30) per gigabyte has been revised, though still not enough to please the electronics industry.

A new proposal by the Foundation Onderhandeling Thuiskopievergoeding (SONT), which negotiates between hardware manufacturers and the collecting agency Stichting Thuiskopie, suggests a surcharge of €0.20 per 32MB with a maximum of €1 and €8 to €25 for audio players with a hard disk of 10GB or more. There also will be a tax on DVRs of €0.15 per gigabyte. SONT believes the levy will be more tolerable than the previous proposed tax, which was to put €180 ($235) to the price of a top end iPod.

However, ICT Office, the 450 members strong Dutch trade association for IT, Telecom and Office industries, has already condemned the new proposal. Spokesman Bernd Taselaar said Friday that the proposed levy ignores European policies and will hurt business. Other critics say that levies on MP3 players are outmoded, as more and more users buy content online, which means that copyright is being purchased twice over if a levy is also paid. The proposal also seem to ignore the fact that hard disc capacity is growing every few months. Introducing a levy would make hardware unjustly expensive.

Stichting Thuiskopie will discuss the proposal on Monday, but it may have to conclude that is little support for a levy, despite the fact that it can introduce the tax without any further discussion.®

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