The private copying tax could soon target refurbished smartphones.
The refurbished market has been growing in France for several years. This is a good method to acquire a smartphone, halfway between the specific occasion and the purchase of a new product. It makes it possible to combine a certain ecological awareness with the acquisition of a product whose initial manufacture we know requires both a cost for the planet and a human cost. With the slowdown in innovations in a market that has become mature, it is quite normal to want to turn to these solutions.
Several companies have launched themselves in France such as YesYes, or BackMarket, and today it is a good breeding ground for products usually manufactured abroad. This is one of the points on which Cédric O, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, and Barbara Pompili, Minister of Energy Transition, wants to support to prevent refurbished smartphones from being targeted by a new tax. Le Figaro reports that an internal debate is taking place in the government between the two officials mentioned above, and the Ministry of Culture, which would like to extend the tax on private copying.
Tax the same product twice
Since the early 2000s, the private copying commission has set a royalty on media allowing private copying of works protected by copyright. While it was originally aimed at audio cassettes or blank DVDs, it has since been extended to all electronic devices with SSD or hard drive storage. This notably includes new smartphones. And the case is rather juicy: 14 euros in taxes for a device with 64 GB of storage for example.
Refurbished smartphones are very logically excluded for the moment, since the royalty has already been paid on the first purchase of the device when it was new. This is pointed out by the RCub reuse federation, headed by Benoît Varin, co-founder of Recommerce. “Taxing the refurbished is taxing the same product twice: new and used».
For the Ministry of Culture, taxing refurbished smartphones is also a way of targeting imported smartphones that escape private copying for the moment. This is precisely the common ground on which the government could agree: only tax refurbished smartphones whose origin, when the device was new, was foreign.
Still in the columns of Figaro, we can read the Ministry of the Economy and Finance worrying about the situation: “The sector’s margins are very low, adding 14 euros per device risks killing a growing sector».