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Russian Internet users collect signatures against anti-piracy tax

The Russian Public Initiative website has begun collecting signatures against introduction of the so-called anti-piracy tax on the Internet. If the petitioners collect within one year 100,000 signatures, their address will be analysed by the expert commission, headed by Minister for Open Government Mikhail Abyzov.

Authors of the initiative say monthly charges payable by all users of the Internet "do not comply with the Russian laws, as most users will have to pay the tax for the content they are not consuming."

"The tax payments will be made not in the interests of all the people in Russia and even not in the interests of a limited group of people," the petition reads. "Besides, there are no guarantees copyright holders will be receiving at all whatever parts of the paid tax."

"It is necessary not to allow adoption of the law, which introduces a tax on downloaded content as it contradicts the Russian legislation. The State Duma's respective committees should offer alternative variants, which do not violate laws and rights of the people," the initiative's authors say.

In October, the Russian union of copyright holders suggested a new mechanism of paying for use of copyright-protected materials on the Internet - to make communication operators pay a duty depending on the number of clients, and to have that money distributed among the copyright holders. Under this suggestion, a "tax on the Internet" of about 300 roubles (about $6) should be payable by all users of the Internet, no matter whether they are downloading anything or not.

A week earlier, Russian major Internet companies sent a letter to the president, where they asked not to introduce a duty payable by the Internet users to copyright holders, as, they said, the initiative contradicted the country's Constitution and the Tax Code, since it violates the right to privacy of correspondence and life, as well as contradicted requirements from the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 07Dec14]

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