I'm currently very taken by the Music Business Group justifying their call for an iPod tax with the claim that "unquestionably, there is a value produced by the ability to format
shift. It is imperative that creators and performers should benefit
directly from this value."
Let's just say for the sake of argument that we don't demolish this argument on grounds that - as Shane Richmond points out - it isn't the creators or performers who stand to be enriched by the tax. (We can test this aspect of the claim trivially enough by asking whether the MBG plans to waive the tax in the case of deceased performers. Anyone care to lay bets?)
Let's instead look at the implication that because value is created by the ability to format shift people should pay for that value. It's fair enough as far as it goes. Format-shifting does create value. I wouldn't buy CDs if I couldn't shift them on to my iPod-type-thingy and my phone.
And, right there, is the rub. The ability to format-shift is already incorporated into the market price of CDs. Remove that feature and the labels will have to drop prices or accept lower sales (and, in practice, more file-sharing as people find substitutes). Charge an additional fee for a feature that, frankly, we've been using for more than a decade and they'll create the same effect. Hence this fatuous demand for an iPod tax. Oh dear.