Latvia: new fee for data carriers
Starting April 1, everyone who buys a smartphone or hard drive in Latvia will have to pay a one-off media fee of a few euros. The Latvian Ministry of Culture initiated this legal amendment in December to generate additional income for the music industry, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. Commentators take a dim view of the move.
Users to pay twice for the same product
Business paper Dienas Bizness finds the initiative completely unrealistic:
“The Ministry of Culture is trying to use a flawed study to prove, contrary to the facts, that smartphones and computers have become illegal digital libraries that accordingly must cost 1.50 euros or 2.85 euros. The proposal is so absurd that the fee is also to be paid for devices that have no data storage functions. ... In reality, nowadays music is streamed from legal websites and books are bought from legal virtual libraries. So the user has already paid the author. And the Ministry of Culture wants the population to pay twice.”
Why should musicians be more important than other creators, the weekly Ir wonders:
“Someone who works in show business is no better than someone else who invents a vaccine, a drug, a smartphone or a hard drive. Yet no one else is trying to charge others additional fees. ... Fine, if the state were firmly convinced that musicians are more important than doctors, firefighters or teachers, and that for that reason they need their own specific tax, then we could discuss it. Certainly, a musician who writes songs and entertains audiences should get decent pay for their work. But the money should only be paid for what they actually do.”