Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Download Taxes As a Weapon Against File-Sharing

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the nothing-too-original-because-hey-this-is-hollywood dept.

The Almighty Buck 451

An anonymous reader writes "An examination of a new "digital downloads" taxation law in Washington State suggests that files downloaded via file sharing programs may be covered by the law — meaning that you may be expected to pay taxes based on 'the value of the digital product ... determined by the retail selling price of a similar digital product.' Thus, if you were to download music or movies and not pay the taxes, would you be liable for tax evasion charges? How much do you want to bet the RIAA will push exactly that claim?"

cancel ×

451 comments

Does this cover VOD PPV as well? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201307)

Does this cover VOD PPV as well?

or is tax part of the price?

Sounds good... (5, Funny)

wirelessbuzzers (552513) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201309)

I'll pay them 8.25% of what I paid for the song.

Re:Sounds good... (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201479)

I'd be happy to pay them 8.25% for anything I buy. Considering that would be a bit of a break off the 9.5% rate I pay now.

Re:Sounds good... (4, Insightful)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201559)

But you didn't download the song. You downloaded several chunks of random (encrypted) data which could be assembled into a song. The chunks didn't even all come from the same place.

Also, if these downloads are illegal or part of illegal activity, there's a conceptual issue of being able to tax them in the first place, and secondly, an issue with the state using funds derived from the proceeds of crime.

Re:Sounds good... (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201609)

That's how the feds got Al Capone.

Re:Sounds good... (5, Interesting)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201631)

Conceptual issues are irrelevant. The RIAA has big, high paid lawyers who will bend you over a barrel and rape your virgin ass all while telling the judge how you downloaded a song and are now guilty of tax evasion.

If they got Capone on tax evasion, they can sure as hell get you!

Re:Sounds good... (2, Insightful)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201877)

Taxation on an activity has the effect of legitimizing it. Paying 15% of the value of an MP3 to the government still has advantages to paying 100% of the value to RIAA et al...

Re:Sounds good... (3, Informative)

gartogg (317481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201683)

Wrong. You need to pay taxes on illegally gotten money. This is clear in the law, and there is no issue at all. Al Capone was nabbed for tax evasion on the money he earned illegally. And you downloaded a song, possibly in an encrypted format. If the data you got is intended to be re-assembled into a product with a value, you acquired it.

If you don't know what you're talking about, don't.

Re:Sounds good... (2, Informative)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201925)

Per your suggestion, I'd like to learn more about what you have to say, specifically case law where it is established that:
a) product==money
b) product==earnings
if those where the specific findings in the Capone case. Specific paragraph numbers from the ruling would be nice, but I'll take a case number.

Re:Sounds good... (1)

d0n0vAn (1382471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201569)

Yeah, except the RIAA will just bill you for the 1,000 songs @ $750 a song * 8.25% resulting in a bill of $750,000 for the songs plus $61,875 in taxes.

Re:Sounds good... (3, Insightful)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201595)

Considering how often the RIAA and ilk try to push the idea that downloading is stealing, I think we should use it against them, if they do try to pull this stunt.

Do I get charged with tax evasion of 8.25% of the value, if I steal a car? No. I get charged with car theft.

So if the RIAA think downloading is stealing, I should be charged with theft, not tax evasion. But downloading is not stealing, it's copyright violation, so I shouldn't be charged with theft, either.

Re:Sounds good... (2, Informative)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201731)

I think that if you sell stolen goods and make tons of money then you do have to pay taxes on it or you face tax evasion charges.

Re:Sounds good... (1)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201883)

so then are you selling the digital content you download? if not, that analogy doesnt hold up too well.

Taxes only? (1)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201311)

So does this mean I will just have to pay taxes on the items I pirate, and not for the items themselves?

Re:Taxes only? (5, Funny)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201647)

So if I was to upload pirated movies, could I claim a tax deduction for their value as well?

Drug tax stamps? (5, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201313)

Don't forget to buy your drug tax stamps while you're at the post office.

Re:Drug tax stamps? (-1, Offtopic)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201451)

If this doesn't get modded to +5 insightful I'll be highly disappointed in the /. crowd. People to know, and understand the history of how bad legislation is passed.

Al Capone (0, Troll)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201321)

agrees with this new tactic.

No different from sales tax evasion (4, Insightful)

Yossarian45793 (617611) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201331)

Technically whenever you order a product from another state and the seller doesn't withhold sales tax on the purchase, you're required to pay that sales tax in your state. Nobody does this -- so technically nearly everyone is guilty of this kind of tax evasion. How is this any different?

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (0, Redundant)

KPU (118762) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201387)

[citation needed]

OK you have one (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201499)

He is correct.

Citate that!

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201529)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_tax [wikipedia.org]

It is assessed upon otherwise "tax free" tangible personal property purchased by a resident of the assessing state for use, storage or consumption of goods in that state (not for resale), regardless of where the purchase took place. The use tax is typically assessed at the same rate as the sales tax that would have been owed (if any) had the same goods been purchased in the state of residence. Use tax applies when sales tax has not been charged. Purchases made over the internet and out-of-state are the most common type of transactions subject to a use tax.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201829)

There is typically a reasonable exemption built-in to use-tax laws so you don't have to worry about the small stuff. Making a major purchase (car/boat/luxury items) in a different state will incur a taxes.

Also, most states let you deduct any sales taxes paid in the other state from what you owe. Usually it's a break-even, but if you live in Massachusetts (5%) and buy a car in New Hampshire (0%), the taxman will want to see his cheque.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (4, Informative)

rmjohnso (891555) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201547)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_tax [wikipedia.org]

Oh, and I'm a CPA. The OP is correct.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (2, Informative)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201653)

He is absolutely 100% correct. Stick your need for a citation where the citation don't shine.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201399)

Well, not sales tax-- you would owe use tax.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201405)

I'm in Seattle and do all my shopping on Amazon, so I'm evading nothing.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (3, Informative)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201413)

TFA says if the download has no purchase price, then it is taxed based on the purchase price of similar items. So if you download a track from an indie artist or public domain for free you still owe a tax as if you had purchased it for the average going rate of an mp3 on iTunes...

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (4, Interesting)

Tiro (19535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201511)

Interesting. How much should FreeBSD or Darwin OS cost? Similar to Linux, to Mac OS X or to Windows? What about XCode tools, a 1GB+ dvd image? Pretty much impossible to implement this without pissing everyone off.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (5, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201601)

Crap. I have free software worth tens of thousands of dollars on my computer at home. I shudder to think how much we have here at work. I'm thinking Microsoft might want in on this action, to put a tax smackdown on Open Source.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201657)

Interesting. How much should FreeBSD or Darwin OS cost? Similar to Linux, to Mac OS X or to Windows? What about XCode tools, a 1GB+ dvd image? Pretty much impossible to implement this without pissing everyone off.

The GPL stuff is easy. You can sell GPL stuff at a price that reasonably covers your distribution costs and overhead. Average what the major repos pay in bandwidth and admin costs per download, and you have your ballpark market price. Claiming that FreeBSD is most similar to Linux in terms of how and where it gets used, and you have your "similar item" to compare it to.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (2, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201961)

You can sell GPL stuff at a price that reasonably covers your distribution costs and overhead.

You can sell it for any price you care to name. The source, on the other hand, you're required to provide for reasonable distribution costs.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

gartogg (317481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201735)

The key issue would be to define "similar." The courts will define it as the same good as purchased in a store, not as the value of a different product. Courts are reasonable in cases like this, and interpret intent, to some extent at least. I think it is clear here, as badly phrased as it was, that "similar" was intended to mean the same item in a different format, not similar in the colloquial sense.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201855)

Why should it be based on the average going rate of an mp3 on iTunes?

Why limited to one portal and not the average going rate of an mp3 downloaded from any site?

Maybe because the vast majority are pirated so the average price approaches 0. But that would at least be a fair tax rate...

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201927)

TFA says if the download has no purchase price, then it is taxed based on the purchase price of similar items. So if you download a track from an indie artist or public domain for free you still owe a tax as if you had purchased it for the average going rate of an mp3 on iTunes...

No, TFA says "acquired by means other than a purchase".
Even if you were right, that's still an idiotic interpretation of the law.
The equivalent cost of free or public domain is zero, not iTunes.
Further, the actual bill declares that purchase price = sales price.
So zero = zero.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201543)

Well, the deal here is that they were supposed to be taxing those sales already, this measure would just even the playing field between those that sell physical discs and those that just sell downloads. They're both supposed to be taxed in the same way, it's just that at present they aren't.

And you are right, the moratorium is on collecting sales tax, not on paying it. But then again, we're supposed to be able to deduct it and it took a really long time for that mess to get fixed.

As for tax evasion, it's not like there's an easy tool provided for handling that aspect and everybody including the state legislature knows that people don't pay it. That's the main source of tax leakage, it's just that nobody's been able to get the federal government to side with income tax utilizing states.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201641)

Yeah, I noticed this on my CT state tax return this year. You're supposed to tally up all your purchases from Amazon and Newegg and pay sales tax on that. Needless to say, I purchased nothing from Amazon or Newegg last year.

Re:No different from sales tax evasion (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201881)

Nobody does this -- so technically nearly everyone is guilty of this kind of tax evasion.

Not if you live in New Hampshire! :)

Al Capone (2, Informative)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201347)

Tax evasion is what put Al Capone away.

How much is a similar operating system (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201369)

So, if I were to download an operating system, like Linux, or an IDE, like Eclipse, would I be liable for taxes on the price of similar offerings from Microsoft?

Re:How much is a similar operating system (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201615)

I was going to post the same. How much is Windows for Datacenters again? You downloaded PostgreSQL - sorry, Oracle is $20,000 per CPU, so you owe us $1700, kthx. What a ludicrous law and idea. Lots of government people still sucking on the teat of big-copyright...

Not similar... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201747)

I would argue that Windows cannot be made comparable to Linux, therefore a more similar product to Ubuntu would be FreeBSD.

And from the opposite perspective, the law specifically mentions that only "if the purchase price doesn't reflect the true value" do we get to the "value of similar products". Since it's difficult to see how the price of Windows has any relation to "value", does that mean that if I purchase Windows for $299, I should only pay the tax based on say a retail version of Slackware ($45 @ the local Fryes)?

Re:How much is a similar operating system (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202013)

That's like saying I should be able to get a Peterbilt 18 wheeler for the same price as a Yugo, because they can both be used to drive to the grocery store.....

Microsoft has no similar offering to Linux. Similarly, they have no similar offering to Eclipse.

"Similar" does not mean "something that the general public possibly could use in place of." In reality, it means the two items have to be virtually identical.

Linux is free as in freedom, open source, and unix-like.
Windows is expensive, closed source, and decidedly not unix like.

They are not similar. They're pretty much polar opposites.

Impossible to enforce (4, Interesting)

guspasho (941623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201383)

So if I were to download Ubuntu, would I have to pay taxes based on Windows Vista or Windows 7? Ultimate? Professional? Home starter?

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

rshol (746340) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201443)

That was certainly my first thought. Its not about pirates, its about Linux (and BSD et al too).

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201459)

Think again.

I don't know about US, but here in the EU you have to pay an "artist" tax on every media storage you buy. They got the money and the will to make it happen and all we can do is band over.

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

Ambiguous Coward (205751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201597)

all we can do is band over.

I see what you did there.

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201533)

Doubtful. This is only one more step toward getting the government to enforce copyright criminally rather than letting the *AA's continue (increasingly unsucessfully) to enforce it civilly.

They'll have to catch you in the act and prove that you did it, but now the FBI or even homeland security will be legally able to gather ISP data or even hack your box to gather evidence. Still very chilling.

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201613)

Whoops, forgot linky [ice.gov] . "Immigration and Customs" my ass!

Re:Impossible to enforce (5, Informative)

KPU (118762) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201537)

No. According to line 33 of page 4 in the bill [wa.gov] , computer software is not a digital good. Perhaps not the reason you were hoping for, but it does answer your question.

Re:Impossible to enforce (5, Funny)

GMFTatsujin (239569) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201583)

"Computer software is not a digital good."

Hell, in most cases it's barely a digital okay. I consider myself lucky to find a digital I can live with it.

Re:Impossible to enforce (4, Funny)

gartogg (317481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201771)

In economics, we would call windows a "bad [wikipedia.org] ."

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

JoeRandomHacker (983775) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201707)

No. According to line 33 of page 4 in the bill [wa.gov] , computer software is not a digital good. Perhaps not the reason you were hoping for, but it does answer your question.

No problem, then. Just distribute music in self-extracting zip files. It is an EXE, which is clearly a program, which simply has the side-effect of creating a music file for you. You could do the same on Linux with shar archives, which are just shell scripts.

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201733)

Under fair value accounting standards, you would first look toward a "level 1 observation," which is a transaction in the same item. So, probably $0. But, given that this is another government cash grab, WINDOWS 7 SUPER DUPER ULTRA DELUXE EDITION: $499.

Re:Impossible to enforce (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201957)

That's why I think the submitter is misinterpreting the bill (or at least the intent). By his/her thinking, all data that moves between private parties online would have to be priced.

But I get the impression that the bill is trying to give the state a handle on sales tax like it has with 'brick and morter' merchants.

I would say the submitter was being paranoid... that is if the **AA media gangs didn't have such a record of abusing the law.

Tax evasion (0, Redundant)

nomorecwrd (1193329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201393)

That's how they finally caught Al Capone.
And send him to Jail.

What about free software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201403)

From the article "If the digital product is acquired by means other than a purchase, the value of the digital product is determined by the retail selling price of a similar digital product."

Does this mean that if you download Ubuntu you would have to pay taxes on the retail value of Windows or OS X since they are similar digital products?

Yes, it would be tax evasion... (0)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201407)

That's how they got Al Capone - regardless of the legality of your income, you still need to pay taxes on it.

That being said, if the retail value of a DVD is $10, and a state has a 6% sales tax, I could download a hundred movies and owe...six whole dollars. No prosecutor in his right mind is going to prosecute for that.

Re:Yes, it would be tax evasion... (1)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201455)

A prosecutor that is bank rolled by the RIAA will.

Re:Yes, it would be tax evasion... (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201495)

Yeah. They worry about the RIAA using this as a new tactic? That might actually be a worry if they'd actually ever gotten someone arrested, rather than just suing them in civil court.

Re:Yes, it would be tax evasion... (2, Informative)

cwiegmann24 (1476667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201503)

That's how they got Al Capone - regardless of the legality of your income, you still need to pay taxes on it.

That being said, if the retail value of a DVD is $10, and a state has a 6% sales tax, I could download a hundred movies and owe...six whole dollars. No prosecutor in his right mind is going to prosecute for that.

Um, check your math. You'd owe $60. It'd be 60 cents for each movie.

Re:Yes, it would be tax evasion... (1)

avm (660) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201905)

Despite the math error, the point is valid. Who prosecutes for $60?

Wait, I know. The same sort of dolts who set a lawyer on me for a matter of $20 (late copay, I was away from home working for 6 weeks following and forgot about it). Came home, paid the bill at the hospital. Still get letters from that lawyer alleging nonpayment.

Re:Yes, it would be tax evasion... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201527)

That being said, if the retail value of a DVD is $10, and a state has a 6% sales tax, I could download a hundred movies and owe...six whole dollars.

I take it that arithmetic isn't your strong point.

"file sharing" (3, Interesting)

drDugan (219551) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201457)

How do they plan to handle legitimate file sharing, e.g. content released without a fee or supported by voluntary sponsorship?

Do they plan to tax that too?

If they plan to handle it differently, how will they assess the legal status of the bits being shared?
If they plan to handle it the same, that seems grossly unfair to the artists and independent producers.

How is this unreasonable (4, Interesting)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201477)

If I won a $10,000 iTunes gift card, I'd have to pay taxes on that. (Assuming deductions/exemptions were unavailable/already used)
If somebody gave me $10,000 as a gift, I'd have to pay taxes on that. (Assuming deductions/exemptions were unavailable/already used)
If somebody "gives" me $10,000 in music via bittorrent, why on earth should that be tax-exempt?

In almost every state, items purchased out-of-state must be declared and a "use tax" is due when imported. There is a reasonable exemption limit so you don't have to declare that bag of Cheetos you bought driving home from trip, but if you purchase a car in New Hampshire to avoid Massachusetts sales tax, you still owe money to Massachusetts, and they will collect it.

Just because you downloaded it doesn't mean you shouldn't pay gift/sale taxes. Taxes are part of life. Deal.

Re:How is this unreasonable (4, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201557)

If someone gave you $10,000 gift card it'd be a gift. They paid the taxes when they bought it.

Go to the store. Buy X as a gift for someone. Notice the line at the bottom that says "Tax".

Only time it's tax exempt is if you're going to resell it. I had friends who bought stuff at Sams Club to sell in their small gas station, they didn't pay taxes at Sams. Their customers paid tax at their place.

Re:How is this unreasonable (1)

PoolOfThought (1492445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201815)

010001.... That's not how it works here. You buy a gift card for $10000. You fork over $10000, not $10000 + tax. The tax is collected when something is purchased WITH the giftcard. I think paeanblack is right that you should, theoretically, pay something like an income tax on that $10000 gift card (assuming no credits / exemptions / whatever are available). The fun happens to be that you'll get hit again with sales tax when you actually buy something, but there is nothing abnormal about it. Don't take this comment to mean I agree. I really have no idea how in the world you choose a "comparable product" and "what it would sell for". I mean, I can look on ebay right now and find the same product for 10 different prices. Which one should be used as the basis for taxing it if I could buy the same product and download it?

Re:How is this unreasonable (2, Informative)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201607)

In the USA, as of around 10 years ago, gifts to family members of $10,000 or less did not have to be reported and were not taxable income.

Re:How is this unreasonable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201659)

Its as unreasonable as our tax system as a whole...

To earn money:
Pay federal income tax
Pay state income tax
pay medicare tax
pay social security tax

To buy/own a car:
pay taxes and fees on the purchase
pay property tax on the vehicle for as long as you own it

To drive that car somewhere to spend whats left of your income:
pay federal gas/diesel tax
pay state gas/diesel tax

To spend your money:
Pay state sales tax
Pay local sales tax (if applicable)
According to Rahm Emmanuel its also a great idea for us all to pay a federal 10% VAT

To die:
Give half your life savings back to the government instead of to your surviving relatives

Re:How is this unreasonable (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201715)

I'm not paying tax on bits that move around any more than I'm paying tax on the air I breathe. The taxing authority can go suck it, and come try to collect on data I've pushed through a VPN.

Re:How is this unreasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201839)

Just because a 10 songs CD is 20$, it doesn't mean that each song is 2$. Maybe it's 1$ for the store, 50Â for transport and 50Â for the physical CD and box. So why would you be taxed on a 2$ purchase if you downloaded something which has no value? And it isn't different for paid-for music download services. Maybe you are paying for bandwith and servers. Nothing tells you that you are paying for the song. Plus, when you walk in front of a restaurant, your ears are also "downloading" a song. Would you need to pay taxes for that too? If there are 50 people in the restaurant, is the taxable ammount 2$/person or 4Â/person?
It just doesn't work that way. When you make a copy of something for free, the value is 0. And that's what you are taxed for.

Re:How is this unreasonable (4, Interesting)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201885)

If you buy used CDs for $1 each, do you pay taxes on the $1 price or on the original retail value?
If you record FM radio on a cassette player, do you pay taxes based on how much the songs would have cost to buy on a casette tape?
If you record a song from Internet radio on your computer, do you pay tax based on the cost for the radio service to license that song and transmit it to you?
If you download the 30 second sample of a 3 minute song, do you pay tax on 1/6th of the purchase price?

Re:How is this unreasonable (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201971)

If somebody "gives" me $10,000 in music via bittorrent, why on earth should that be tax-exempt?

For one thing, because that $10,000 would probably end up being the value that the RIAA places on it, meaning you'd pay 10% of $10000 for one song, which is absurd. It wouldn't be what I value it, but that's not because the RIAA is right, it's just because the RIAA spends more than I do on lobbyists.

Re:How is this unreasonable (1)

allometry (840925) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201983)

True, taxes are part of life. But, I'm not happy about any additional taxes, especially when I already feel like I'm over-taxed.

The federal government takes a considerable share of my money when I'm paid. In addition, when I'm given a bonus, or when my risk pays off in the stock market. There are plenty more taxes to mention, but my point is this: it's never enough for the state or federal government!

Ever download anything from steam or itunes in WA? (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201489)

They already make you pay taxes on it ;).

Cheesy application of laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201497)

to prosecute unwanted behavior for which the laws were never meant to be.

That's actually not that uncommon.

This stuff happens a lot in places like Burma (or whatever it's named now), Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, North Korea and China.

Again the US is in lustre company.

Send someone to debtors prison (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201517)

So if I see a person or corporate entity using a spider/URL reference to some copyright material I can log the action and report them. great.

So I create a 6Gb data file. Size of movie, link it from my home page. If I see a google spider hit it I report the download to the IRS.
Fun times.

Time to create some tiny URL's and seed them in appropriate places.

I have an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201525)

I'll pay you 20 percent of the "market value" of the songs, which, since supply is, for all purposes, infinite, now equals zero dollars. In the meantime, I'll be going over to I2P and Freenet, and I recommend the rest of you join me. The internet is being whored out.

PDF for sale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201549)

I'm selling copies of the bill for $10,000.00
If you live in Washington, think twice before you download

It's my money (0, Troll)

Haxzaw (1502841) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201585)

Maybe the Government would like to decide how much I need to live on, and keep the rest. Seems to be where they're going. Our Government is OUT OF CONTROL!

Re:It's my money (4, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201955)

It isn't the government's fault. It is the people. Collectively we make unreasonable demands and expect government to magically meet those demands. We want the best roads, best fire departments, best police, etc, etc etc, but we aren't willing to do anything ourselves about the problems.

In Hawaii there was a bridge out that lead to an important tourist area, no bridge meant no business. The government said $4 million and 2 years. The locals people got together and did it in 8 days for "free" with donations from the community.

Our government is only "out of control" because we have demanded that it fill every whim and desire we have.

It's your country (0, Troll)

OutSourcingIsTreason (734571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201963)

It's your country.

It's your national defense.

It's your crumbling infrastructure.

It's your overcrowded classrooms.

It's your national debt.

Do your citizenly duty and pay your taxes or else leave.

taxes charged by amazon.com and the like (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201593)

work because you have a large centralized company easily lassoed into the arrangement

but noncorporate entities?

outside the country?

dispersed and distributed?

ok, so you can go after the downloaders

so the downloaders download the free client that obfuscates the traffic as http requests and the like

basically: good luck mr. tax man, you're going to need it to get a dime

Maybe maybe not (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201621)

If the state wants to go that route it should FIRST attempt to charge someone with failure to pay "sales or use tax" on stolen physical merchandise.

If that doesn't get shot down then maybe, just maybe, this will fly.

If you attempt this first a judge will just say "if taxes aren't owed on stolen physical goods, what makes you think they apply to information goods?"

Seeding is Charity (1)

feedayeen (1322473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201629)

Charities and other non-profit organizations are tax free in the US.

Re:Seeding is Charity (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201753)

Charities and other non-profit organizations are tax free in the US.

So downloading Debian would be tax free, but downloading Ubuntu (which BTW is Swahili for "couldn't install Debian") from Canonical Ltd. would be taxable?

Pay Sales Tax on Gimp at Photoshop Value? (2, Interesting)

wol (10606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201635)

Assuming I download a copy of Gimp (gpl and free software), does that mean that I now need to pay a tax equal to what I would have to pay if I bought a copy of Photoshop?

Re:Pay Sales Tax on Gimp at Photoshop Value? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201909)

Nope.

More taxes? (1)

spiffydudex (1458363) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201665)

We wouldn't need more taxes on trivial things if the current US government would stop spending money like candy.

As far as tax evasion is concerned. Al Capone has actual $$ income. The thing that is being muddled is that a download of an item from illegal methods constitutes direct income. When in fact there is no $$ income at all. Politicians would like for us to view it as money that comes out of thin air, just like the US government and printing money it doesn't have.

It Doesn't Matter if the RIAA Pushes This Claim (1)

astarf (1292110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201669)

It doesn't matter if the RIAA pushes this claim, it matters if the Washington state equivalent of the IRS pushes this claim. The RIAA doesn't engage in criminal prosecutions -- it files civil suits, and you can't sue someone the grounds they they owe a third party money. If if your local tax board takes this approach, it doesn't seem to change the equation: there are already significant legal sanctions in place for illegal fire sharing and this doesn't seem to add much to the balance.

Could be an interesting precedent ... (4, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201757)

It occurs to me that if this happens, it has the potential to be applied to anything else that's covered by copyright. Consider the results.

If you check a book out from your local library and read it, you'll be liable for the sales tax on the retail price of the same book (at a book seller of the prosecution's choice).

If you leave a newspaper (hey, remember them?) lying around in your house and a visitor reads it, they'll be liable for the sales tax on not just that paper, but for a subscription to the newspaper.

If your local school has textbooks that they let students study from, those students (or their parents) will be liable for the sales tax on the price of the books.

If a store is playing music audible from wherever you may be (sitting at a table in a restaurant, using an elevator, walking by on the sidewalk), you are liable for the sales tax on the album that contains the music that you heard.

Since everything is by default copyrighted as soon as it's "published" (whatever that actually means), any time you read anything from any source or hear anything that was recorded, you will be required to learn the retail price for the copyrighted work, and pay the sales tax on it.

We've been in the habit of being a bit bemused by the fact that, when the authorities don't have any evidence against some supposed criminal, they customarily just charge them with tax evasion. But this is no longer just something that big-time Mafia capos and politicians have to worry about. Now we can all be tax evaders, by merely reading something somewhere and neglecting to determine its retail sales price so we can pay the sales tax.

And I can make you a criminal by merely putting copyrighted text somewhere that you read it, or by putting recorded sound somewhere that you hear it.

It can be fun to think of what might be the ultimate motive for passing laws like this. Look up the phrase "nuisance law" for further explanation.

Here is more... (-1, Offtopic)

siyavash (677724) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201861)

http://kde.org/announcements/4.2/screenshots/desktop.png [kde.org]

The hot char of the menus are always visible.

The taskbar and its glass are right off Windows.

The gadgets to the right are right off Windows.

Look at "Settings" word on the menu, See how "S" and "e" goes almost into each other, what the hell kind of design or font is that?

Look at the buttons, the caption/text of them are all out of place!

The grey Windows... need I say more? Cluttered with off place lines, ugly buttons, ugly everything.

All the fonts and their rendering are ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE LOOKING.

The Maximum button icon does not make sense at all, an up arrow? wtf?

Look at that awful awful battery icon! ...The only thing I like is the blue "office" icon on the desktop.

Re:Could be an interesting precedent ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201889)

Slippery slope fallacy.

OpenOffice.org (4, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201779)

'the value of the digital product ... determined by the retail selling price of a similar digital product.'

They'll make a lot of money off downloads of OpenOffice.org... which is similar to the outrageously priced Microsoft Office.

how come the EFF and others aren't fighting this? (3, Interesting)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201823)

Under the "strict" reading, can't this also be applied to various open source projects?
For instance, GIMP [gimp.org] is a powerful image manipulation program, that to some rivals Adobe's Photoshop and Corel's Paint Shop.
And if this asinine law were to be strictly applied to this program, it could be disastrous. Especially considering the $500 or so price tag of Photoshop (Paint Shop can be as little as 20 bucks to 50 bucks depending on various rebates).

What about Debian? Wasn't there an article just recently on Slashdot that calculated the cost it took to develop Debian 5?

Or Ubuntu?
Or Chrome/Firefox/Opera?

And don't forget independent or forward-thinking musicians and artists (including writers) who publish their digital works online for free.
How will they be affected? Will this law become another tool for big corporations and entities to abuse to kill off the independent artists?

Some things to think about, especially since they do say that the devil is in the details.

Excuse me but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28201865)

I'm not an American... you insensitive clod.

Tax as a weapon? Are we at war with ourselves? (1)

shivagit (1376313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201937)

Me and the Baldwins are leaving the country. If they'll still let us out.

Free Stuff!! WOOT! (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28201949)

Let's see if I know my math... (the price I paid) x (the tax rate) still = 0 cuz I paid nothing... if anything this will encourage piracy, cuz then you don't have to pay tax!

Imagination is a wonderful thing (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202011)

First people get sued for imaginary losses, then they get taxed for imaginary gains. Maybe we should just give both the RIAA and the government open access to our bank accounts, and let them take whatever they want without having to make up a reason.

Taxes taxes taxes (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202027)

Can't there be any other solution to a problem than taxing something?

I will be glad for them to fight online piracy once police have cleaned up the streets. Once murder, rape, burglary, bank robbing, drink driving and so on are under control then the police can focus on copyright infringement.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...