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Argentina: Direct Taxes and Digital Rights

In Argentina, the proposal of the Member of the Parliament from the official party, Claudio Morgado, is called “New Law for Music”.  Article 21 of the new proposal states:

To create the Culture Development Fund, which will be under the administration of an entity formed by the National Institute of Music, National Institute of Film and Audiovisual arts, National Theater Institute and entities of collective management. The fund will be created by the sum amount collected by the implementation of a direct tax to every object that permits the storage, recording and reproduction of music and images.

In a very quick fashion, many Argentinean blogs started to cover the topic. The proposal was very similar to the direct tax that today is applied in Spain, and by which any media that allows to store or copy the contents must pay a percentage of its value as a “compensation” to the creators of works with copyrights. It is, in theory, a form to fight “piracy” and the loss of income by musicians, discographies and institutions that collect copyrights.In his blog, Denken Uber [es], Mariano Amartino thinks otherwise:

Bienvenida la idea de que ahora la piratería va a estar protegida legalmente porque, si me cobran un impuesto para “compensar, de alguna manera, los derechos intelectuales (fonográfico, de producción,etc,) de los autores, quienes se verían perjudicados por las reproducciones impagas de sus obras” esto implica que tengo el DERECHO de reproducir sus obras porque el cánon es la compensación que ellos reclaman.

Welcome the idea that now piracy will be legally protected because, if I pay a direct tax to ‘compensate, somehow, the intellectual rights (photographic, production, etc.) of the authors, who would be affected by unpaid reproductions of their work’ this means that I have the RIGHT to reproduce their work because the tax is the compensation they claim.

There's also a page about this topic, No al canon [es], administered by Fabio Baccaglioni, from Fabio.com.ar [es]. There's a compilation of resources on the topic, and also a list of a large number of entries and articles published in blogs and newspapers. The repercussion of this topic in the Internet was such, that the M.P. Morgado called a meeting, where he invited many bloggers and journalists.According to Vanina Berghella, from La Propaladora [es], in that meeting “Morgado said he was against the payment of a tax that increases the price of digital objects” and he stated that such proposal had been added to the law project after the suggestion of the Independent Musicians Union as a strategy to finance a “Institute of Music”.Also, Mariano Amartino and Fabio Baccaglioni summarized what happened in the meeting. The famous Article 21 disappeared from the proposal, without notice. But Amartino stated that the discussion about the tax had not been abandoned and that organizations that collect copyrights in Argentina and discographies plan to introduce the direct tax in a future law. For now, the project to implement a canon in Argentina seems to be halted. It's not a minor fact: in a country where buying any kind of hardware or information storage device is expensive, the implementation of this tax would have added more costs. It also would transfer to the whole society the obligation to maintain the discographies business and institutions that collect copyrights. The case of discographies it's particularly interesting: the victims of terrible business decisions in regards to to the Internet, instead of assuming their mistakes and understanding that times have changed, are trying to preserve the model, at the expense of those who buy technology. For those who want to know more about the topic, there's a long list of links at No al Canon.

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