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France floats Google music-and-movie tax

Vive la différence

France should tax Google and other online US giants to subsidize local music and movie industries, a report commissioned by the country's culture ministry has recommended.

A new proposal to tax internet advertising revenue was among the recommendations offered by the government-appointed panel. Money raised would finance the availability of cultural material online and fund the protection of artists losing out to piracy.

The tax would be levied from banner ads and sponsored links and target internet companies active in France, with a threshold in place to avoid hitting small-time operators. The report's lead author - unsurprisingly a former independent label producer - Patrick Zelnick dubbed the plan a "Google tax," but said other US-based companies like Microsoft, Facebook, and AOL would pay, reports the AFP. It recommended that France should rally other European nations to support its anti-piracy efforts.

The report also proposed public subsidies for a voucher card system for youths to buy music online and promote accessing content through approved sites.

Zelnick's recommendations follow the French government's efforts to pass its controversial "three strikes" law that would disconnect internet users repeatedly accused of illegal downloading. His reports also taps into fears of the growing influence of major internet companies.

He told the Liberation newspaper the plan "seemed inevitable" to himself and the panel if they want to "maintain a certain pluralism in the world" and prevent the "endless enrichment of two or three world players who will impose their cultural formatting on us."

President Nicolas Sarkozy and France's culture minister are currently studying the report and have not yet decided when they will respond. ®

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