France: Initiative For A Higher Tax On eBooks That Are Not Interoperable

A French deputy thinks that proprietary and DRM protected eBooks should not be legally considered books and should not benefit from the fiscal advantages enjoyed by books as cultural artifacts.

Last week, during a debate in the French National Assembly about a proposal to preserve the competitiveness of bookstores compared to Amazon by prohibiting free shipping, Isabelle Attard from the Europe Ecology Green Party introduced a very interesting counter-proposal designed to favor the sale of open eBooks.

Arguing that the real problem was not a question of pricing, but rather the vertical integration of platforms like those of Amazon, Apple and Google, Attard proposed to address the problem by offering a fiscal advantage in the form of reduced VAT to sellers offering open books that consumers can read on any platform.

But I hope you have understood that your PPL [Proposal for a Legislative Project], composed of a single article, can’t pretend to change anything whatsoever regarding the state of book commerce in France. Instead you could have looked into the future of books. Amazon is the leader in sales of licenses for digital reading. They talk about sales of books, but that is semantic fraud. The contract that their client accepts is a right to read, not to possess a digital file. The best proof of this is that Amazon gives themselves the right to delete books from the Kindle accounts of their clients. It is urgent for us to look into a way to put a stop to these closed and captive systems that lock in clients without possibility of getting out.

Therefore I make the following proposal, that will moreover resolve a conflict between the French government and Europe. The sale of books in an open file format should benefit from a reduced VAT, because it is really a matter of a sale, and a closed system like those of Amazon or Apple, that are offers for a digital service, would keep their VAT at the normal rate.

———–

Mais j’espère que vous aurez compris que votre PPL, composée d’un unique article, ne peut prétendre changer quoi que ce soit à l’état du commerce du livre en France. Vous auriez pu à la place vous pencher sur l’avenir des livres. Amazon est le leader sur la vente de licences de lecture numérique. Eux parlent de vente de livres, mais c’est une escroquerie sémantique. Le contrat que leur client accepte est un droit à lire, pas la possession d’un fichier électronique. La meilleure preuve en est qu’Amazon se donne le droit de supprimer les livres des comptes Kindle de leurs clients. Il est urgent de nous pencher sur la façon de mettre fin à ces systèmes fermés et privateurs qui enferment les clients sans possibilité de sortie.

Je vous fais donc la proposition suivante, qui règlerait d’ailleurs un conflit entre le gouvernement français et l’Europe. La vente de livres sous format de fichier ouvert devrait bénéficier d’une TVA réduite, puisqu’il s’agit bien d’une vente et les systèmes fermés comme ceux d’Amazon ou Apple, qui sont une prestation de service numérique, conserveraient leur TVA au taux normal.

As she explained to ActuaLitté

Actors that commercialize open, interoperable files like the initiative de Publie.net will receive the privilege of a reduced tax, underlines the deputy. This would have the merit of favoring the most virtuous systems, while stimulating the creation of an interoperable offer without DRM.” Without DRM? “Yes, everything that goes against interoperability, or imposes reading constraints would be subject to a VAT of 19.6%, in the capacity of services, and not sale of a book, therefore of a product.

———–

Seraient privilégiés par un taux réduit des acteurs qui commercialisent des fichiers ouverts, interopérables, comme l’initiative de Publie.net, souligne la députée. « Cela aurait le mérite de favoriser les systèmes les plus vertueux, tout en incitant à la création d’une offre interopérable et sans DRM. » Sans DRM ? « Oui, tout ce qui va à l’encontre de l’interopérabilité, ou impose des contraintes de lectures serait alors soumis à une TVA de 19,6 %, en tant que services, et non vente d’un livre, donc d’un produit.

Further Reading
Un Objet Qui Ne Respecte Pas Les Droits Du Lecteur Mérite-t-Il De S’appeler Livre? An Object That Doesn’t Respect The Rights Of The Reader, Does It Deserve To Be Called A Book? Google translated version

Livre: Fin Prochaine De La Gratuité Des Frais de Port Book: Soon An End To Free Shipping Google Translated version

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One Response to France: Initiative For A Higher Tax On eBooks That Are Not Interoperable

  1. Ric Day says:

    Interesting idea. I don’t know France well enough to guess if this idea will turn into a reality, but it would be nice to see it happen.

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