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Former MEP Jacques Toubon is now on a French government committee looking at new business models for creative content on the Internet. Their first recommendation is a tax to hit at Google - and no doubt, eBay. But it will also hit at those big media companies which are still trying to make a commercial business out of their web properties.


Not content with putting the copyright amendments in the EU Telecoms Package, now Jacques Toubon wants to increase the squeeze on the Internet with a tax on online advertising. The tax is

primarily aimed at Google, but will hit all companies who offer online advertising.


Toubon lost his seat in the European Parliament last June. But the French government offered him a new job, and he  is  now on the French government's Zelnik commission, charged with advising the government on new business models. The chair, Patrick Zelnik, is a music producer, and the other member is Guillaume Cerutti,  of  Sotheby's - neither seem to me to be independent advisors, nor people who would be interested in promoting the Internet. But they are evidently people whom the minister, Frederic Mitterand, charged with implementing France's 3-strikes law, feels he can trust.


The online advertising tax that Toubon is recommending will be 1-2% of revenues. He says there will be a threshold, to protect small businesses, but it is not clear how this will operate.


It's indicative of the thinking of some people in the old media world, who are jealous of what they perceive  as a cannibalisation of television advertising revenue by Google. What is not perceived is how Google has helped many millions of businesses to reach markets that they would otherwise not have been able to. Many small businesses have built up solely on the basis of Google's existence. Where it may have taken money from traditional media, it is also supplying a market access that traditional media cannot offer.

 The tax will be another blow for eBay, which also runs online advertising. Not to mention the many websites which use advertising to generate some additional revenue. 

 Toubon also wants to set up a card scheme for legal downloading of music by young Internet users (jeunes Internautes).  And set up a new collecting society for royalties from Internet-based radio stations. 

I just wonder what the young Internet users of France will make  of these ideas dreamed up by three old men. 


Report on the French Google tax in Le Figaro

 The Zelnik commission is announced


This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2009) Toubon strikes again - France to tax Google,  8 January 2010.

Iptegrity in brief is the website of Dr Monica Horten. I’ve been analysing analysing digital policy since 2008. Way back then, I identified how issues around rights can influence Internet policy, and that has been a thread throughout all of my research. I hold a PhD in EU Communications Policy from the University of Westminster (2010), and a Post-graduate diploma in marketing.   I’ve served as an independent expert on the Council of Europe  Committee on Internet Freedoms, and was involved in a capacity building project in Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine. I am currently (from June 2022)  Policy Manager - Freedom of Expression, with the Open Rights Group. For more, see About Iptegrity is made available free of charge for  non-commercial use, Please link-back & attribute Monica Horten. Thank you for respecting this.

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