Spain triples digital tax on phones and smartwatches

by Lorraine Williamson
digital tax

MADRID – The Spanish government has approved a new digital canon tax on various electronic devices and media. The money collected will be used to compensate copyright owners for damage caused by piracy. 

The rates for 2023 are difficult to explain to consumers. Some rates stay the same, but others increase slightly and on certain devices, they skyrocket. In addition, new devices are added to the list of loaded devices. This is remarkable, because the number of unauthorised downloads has been declining for quite some time and copies on optical discs have been marginal for years. 

Digital canon tax rates 

For example, the rate for multifunction printers will remain at €5.25. The same goes for writable and rewritable discs (€0.08 each), USB memory sticks (€0.24), and external hard drives (€4 to 6 TB; €6.45 for the larger capacity). At this point, however, the new regulations add the SSD units for 2023. 

Rates increase noticeably for tablets, with the canon rising from €3.15 to €3.75 and especially for mobile phones, with the rate rising from €1.10 to €3.25, an increase of more than 200%. 

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Smartwatches 

The new digital canon also extends smartwatches to the list of devices subject to this tax. These wearables are charged €2.50 for their “functionality to play phonograms, videograms and texts or other sound-, visual or audiovisual content stored on the local memory of the device”, according to the publication about the canon in the state bulletin BOE. 

Distribution of money collected with the digital tax 

Also new is how the money from the digital canon is distributed. Previously, the money was distributed to companies involved in the production of video, audio and book content or similar things. But, from 2023, the category newspapers and magazines will be added to the latter category. This will undoubtedly appeal to major publishers. 

The conditions to receive the corresponding part of the digital canon (the percentage varies depending on the type of device) are as follows: 

  • Publication in paper or digital format must be provided regularly (from daily to semi-annually), “containing informational, cultural, scientific, technical, opinion-forming or entertainment content”. 
  • These publications have a minimum size of 24 pages  
  • “are published under the responsibility and control of a publisher”. 

The new digital canon will come into effect on July 1. As usual, distribution will be handled by copyright management companies. 

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