Of course. That's the answer. Easy. Japan has sorted it all out.

They're planning to put a tax on MP3 players.

This will be an interesting move not because a single country is planning such a tax - let's be honest, I'm in the UK, the chances are most readers are going to be in America and Japan can't hit either of us with any sort of levy.

However...

Moves are certainly afoot in the UK to introduce some sort of tax because the music industry is tired of its efforts being distributed without payment. I have no information on whether there's anything similar in the offing Stateside, but it wouldn't surprise me. The problem is going to be that taxing iPods and other MP3 players is missing the point - these aren't the devices that distribute music, they're just the players.

And anyway, how do you define 'MP3 player'? My iMac certainly plays MP3s if I ask it nicely, does that make it eligible for this new sort of tax? It's capable of ripping CDs and duplicating them so it's arguably more of a threat to musicians than a single flash-drive-driven outputter.

So far, so consumery - but what about the corporate networks on which there is already loads of illegal music? I was doing some corporate work a couple of years ago and a senior executive at a company I'd better not name told me that although he knew it was against the rules, he often used his company's PC to download music from iTunes and copy it to his iPod (he had a good reason - it was faster than at home, apparently). So what do we do - tax everything that could be responsible for copying music illegally?

No doubt a lot of people will praise the Japanese idea. Even if it turns out not to be the right solution to a growing problem, it's doing something rather than nothing. The snag is, I think they're addressing the wrong problem.

Don't give our already trigger happy Mp's a bandwagon to clamber onto; they'll have it passed through and rates drawn up before the day's out! lol

I think we should tax the morons who insist on sharing their music with us on the train/tube/bus/street or just about anywhere in fact, courtesy of the crappy little speakers on their mobile phone.

Not that I have a bee in my bonnet about being forced to listen to a tinny rendition of some, as it inevitably always is, tedious dance track.

I do find that being over six feet tall and heavily tattooed helps in these circumstances though...

nothing new.
There is already a tax on all devices with memory capacity that will go into effect in the EU shortly.
That covers all mp3 players, harddisk DVD recorders, etc.
Computer components are excluded though, as are video and digital photo cameras (the latter only after massive public outcry about people buying digicams having to pay a tax to recover losses due to music piracy).

I'm not clear how taxing an MP3 player is gong to help the record companies. Instead of looking for ways to stop the bleeding on the web, the record companies need to get creative and find new ways of distributing their music. Unfortunately, they just cling to their 20th views of ownership and try to buy the politicians (who understand technology even less than record company executives) to do their dirty work for them.

The idea is that the money will go (in part) to the record companies to compensate them for the losses due to music piracy.
Of course many kids will interpret that as a free ticket to pirate whatever they like, after all they've paid the tax haven't they?