Japan to introduce iPod tax - who's next?

Home TV recorders to be taxed as well to ease 'piracy' headache

If it gets its way later this week, the Japanese government looks set to introduce a levy on all portable digital music players and home PVRs that will amount to what many are calling an 'iPod tax'.

The Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs will discuss a draft of the plan on Thursday and is expected to instigate legislation that will come into effect before the Beijing Olympics in August, when home TV recording - and hardware sales - is expected to increase.

Nothing has been decided yet, but speculation suggests each PMP and PVR sold from then on will all be subject to a ¥100 (£0.48) tax at the point of sale.

This will raise about ¥1 billion (£4.8 million) annually, to be given to copyright bodies for distribution to TV companies, musicians and other content creators.

So what?

Although neither the agency nor hardware makers were prepared to comment, Joe Public didn't seem too bothered at the prospect of paying more for his iPod.

The general consensus among the people we informally polled in Tokyo today suggests an extra few yen on already-expensive machines won't alter their purchase decisions.

Tarred with same brush

However, one owner of an iRiver PMP pointed out the fallacy of effectively accusing everyone of piracy.

Hiroshi Nishimura, a medical student, told us: "I listen only to lecture notes and podcasts I've either paid for or which are free anyway. Why should I pay more just to make old men who don't understand the technology feel they've done something useful?"

Previous attempts to raise an iPod tax have floundered in the face of opposition from electronics manufacturers, but the same firms aren't expected to beat the current proposal.