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French experts propose smartphone, tablet tax but spare Google

Reuters/Pichi Chuang

A panel of experts in France on Monday recommended imposing taxes on smartphones and tablets but rejected a call for Google to be charged for linking to media content.

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In a report published on Monday, the nine-member panel, headed by journalist and businessman Pierre Lescure, said that the revenue gained from the proposed new taxes could help fund artistic and creative ventures.

But the experts concluded that demands for compensation from Google by content providers such as newspapers, were "legally doubtful", even though the search engine giant makes significant advertising revenue from referencing providers' material.

France and Germany are considering imposing compensation schemes on Google as the company has refused to reach any deal with media outlets.

The report made 75 proposals in total and called for the scrapping of the controversial Hadopi agency, created only two years ago to monitor and enforce Internet copyright laws.

It said the task of fighting Internet piracy should instead be handled by the CSA agency, which currently regulates the audiovisual industry in France.

The group of experts also called for changes in the existing (though rarely used) punishments for piracy. At the moment those guilty of illegal downloading are liable to have their internet connections suspended and could be fined up to 1,500 euros. The panel recomments instead scrapping the internet suspension penalty, and reducing fines to 60 euros, which could be then raised for repeat offenders.

The report said piracy could also be contained if satellite and cable providers offered new films on demand shortly after their release.

 

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