France Looks to Hit Google and Apple With a 'Culture' Tax
It's kinda hard to shake the impression that the French president Francois Hollande doesn't like business a whole lot, and not least the Internet. Whether that's due to the failure of Minitel to take off as an alternative to the web is open to debate, but the past year has seen a series of peculiar moves by Hollande.
Firstly French news publishers accused Google of stealing content, when they added snippets of a story to Google News. Google ended up acquiesing over that, paying $60 million into a Digital Publishers Innovation Fund.
The latest wheeze sees Hollande pondering whether to hit the likes of Google and Apple with a new tax to fund cultural projects in France.
It has long been a concern of the French that their culture is being eroded by the steady march of anglo-saxon artistic output. Thus there is a tradition that French cultural projects should be shielded from market forces.
We've already recently seen a blocked bid by Yahoo to buy the French video site Dailymotion on such grounds, despite the French owners of Dailymotion being keen on the deal. These moves will further heighten tensions between Silicon Valley and France.
The new tax proposal could see taxes levied on smart phones and tablets, in particular Apple's iPhone and iPad and Google's Android based products. The rationale is that consumers are spending more money on hardware than they are on content, which is bad, apparently.
"Companies that make these tablets must, in a minor way, be made to contribute part of the revenue from their sales to help creators," Culture Minister Aurelie Filipetti told journalists.
Hollande is believed to want a decision on this made by the summer before the French parliament goes into recess at the end of July.
Filipetti added that the "culture tax", which she said would be "minimal and widely distributed", was likely to be included in a budget law to be submitted to parliament in November.