Plan for ‘iPod tax’ in Japan unravels

A plan to charge an “iPod tax,” or royalties on portable digital music players, unraveled Thursday after a government committee failed to reach agreement on the measure.

Japan’s recording industry has been pushing for the tax since the explosive success of Apple’s iPod began about two years ago. The tax would add from 2 percent to 5 percent to the price of portable players.

The proposed tax has drawn attention in Japan, where the committees that help set government policy tend to be stacked with industry insiders who work for corporate interests at the expense of consumers.

In response to public criticism of the proposal, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, which chooses the members of the government committee, filled the committee with university professors, copyright lawyers and other experts, instead of recording industry executives. On Thursday, after a year of debate, the committee concluded that it could not reach a consensus on supporting the proposal, said Hiroyuki Suzuki, a spokesman for the agency’s copyright division.

Without a consensus, the committee had to reject the proposal, he said.

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