updated 09:30 am EDT, Fri April 13, 2012
Portugese may try copyright levy
(Update: may be shelved) Portugal's opposition-status Socialist Party has made a proposal that could, in at least some cases, hike the prices of computers and mobile devices. Although ostensibly to focus on professionals, what Portugal's Exame Informatica saw (via TechEye) would add a levy of 20 euro cents per gigabyte on storage up to 1TB and 2.5 euro cents for devices over 2TB. The rate would climb to as much as five euro cents per gigabyte for external "multimedia" drives.
The levies would also extend to both internal and external flash storage. A memory card or USB thumb drive would incur six euro cents per gigabyte, while even internal flash on a phone would face a 50 euro cents levy. Printers would see an odd levy based on the pages-per-minute rate.
In practice, the costs could see dozens of euros added to the price of hardware, such as €32 on a 64GB smartphone and as much as €103.20 on a 2TB external drive.
As with an existing law covering optical discs, the levies would ostensibly be to compensate for the potential of copyright infringement with recordable digital storage. The Socialist Party would both want to modernize an aging law and find alternative revenue sources to prevent Portugal from facing the same kind of economic crisis as fellow EU member Greece.
Similar measures have been tried in other countries and rejected in Canada. They have often been criticized or dismissed as they effectively punish everyone in a given country for the copyright violations of a few. They have similarly been attacked for having a chilling effect on electronics sales, which for Portgual could compound problems.
As a proposal by the opposition, the bill isn't necessarily certain or even likely to pass.
Update: The bill has reportedly been shelved, likely for its over-aggressive rates. [image via Lumastan on Wikipedia]