Friday, April 29, 2005

One Damn Expensive Computer

I was going to post some thoughts about Indiana switching to Daylight Saving Time, but I'll get to that later. I saw another news item that I felt is more pressing...

The Netherlands has a piece of legislation that is set to go into effect in a few months to add a levy to MP3 players. At least, that's the intent. I haven't read the law, but the article makes some rather frightening points about the vagueries of it. The levy will be added to "all storage devices that could possibly be used to store pirated works." (Quote from the article) The amount of the levy is $4.3 per gigabyte. So, let's say you buy a 60 GB iPod. Currently, that costs $449 from Circuit City. Now, let's add 5% sales tax. That's another $22.45. But don't forget to add the MP3 player tax. 60 GB * $4.3/GB = $258. Your iPod will now cost $729.45. That is a de facto 62.5% tax rate. Yowza.

But, of course, that's if they only narrowly enforce the law. Keep in mind that the quote says "all storage devices that could possibly be used to store pirated works." Can you not store pirated MP3s or movies on your computer? So, let's say you pay $1000 for a new computer (just the computer, not including monitor or accessories) that has this fabulous 300 GB Western Digital hard drive. So, add on the $50 for 5% sales tax. And the $1290 pirated works levy. Your computer now costs you $2340 for a de facto 134% sales tax. Or, if you just bought the hard drive itself (to upgrade), you pay $11.45 sales tax plus the full $1290. Your hard drive now costs $1530.45!! That's a 568% tax rate!! Now just imagine when the 1000 GB hard drives start rolling out...

When will governments learn that the record labels and movie companies, in their desparate moves to push through copyright legislation, will kill other industries. Would you consider paying $5000 for a computer (with that 1000 GB hard drive), knowing $4000 of which is going to a copyright collection agency that had absolutely nothing to do with the manufacture of the computer?!?


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