Reuter’s reports that the French government has issued a statement, representing the views of Franch, Germany, Poland and Italy, requesting a revision of the law used by the European Court to demand that France and Luxembourg restore the higher rate of VAT on e-books. Reuter’s notes:
“Ministers call on the Commission to end discrimination against digital books,” the joint statement read. “The essence of a book is the work itself, not the means of accessing it, and the tax applied should be technologically neutral.”
Whether that notion that ‘the essence of a book is the work itself’ will play out in the courts remains to be seen, but it strikes me as powerful argument. If nothing else, the notion that the e-book is a service because you need a device to read it on, is completely illogical when we consider another digital product – the CD or the DVD – devices are needed to use these files, but a music CD is not sold as a service, but as a product, just as the vinyl disc was. To take the argument to its logical conclusion, the Court’s decision suggests that if I buy an egg, I’m receiving a service because I need a device – a frying pan – with which to fry it!