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Spain's hairdressers fight radio tax

Music is a vital part of life here in Austin. I love how songs are playing just about everywhere you go, a lot of times live, but definitely from radios or sound systems.

In fact, the last time I went for a hair cut, the beauty shop (yes, that's what we call salons here in Texas) radio was tuned to a hard rock station and I heard one of my favorite Queensryche compositions.

So you can image the shock when I heard that hairdressers in Spain are fighting a radio tax assessed their shops.

Really? A tax on some businesses for simply playing a radio in the workplace?

Yep. The Spaniards apparently take intellectual property rights of songwriters very, very seriously.

The Spanish Society of Authors (SGAE) charges the salons a fee of between €6 and €12 euros a month, that's around $8 to $16 U.S. dollars, on behalf of the music industry.

"Hairdressers have been paying the fee for years for the simple reason that this is providing a musical service," explained SGAE spokesman Antonio Rojas.

Hair salons are not alone in facing the charge. Shoe stores and shopping centers also are required to pay for playing tunes. But hairdressers are leading the chorus against the tax.

In a campaign led by Fedcat, the Catalan region hairdressers' association, salon owners are protesting the tax, which they say is unfair. Jose Maria Figueres told the Barcelona Reporter that he and his fellow stylists were simply trying to provide a welcoming atmosphere for clients, "as if our customers were guests in our own homes."

Spanish-radio-tax-poster_Fedcat So hundreds of hairdressers have put up posters (pictured there at left) urging customers, "Don't forget to bring your own music from home!"

Essentially, the salon owners want their clientele to bring their own iPods and MP3 players so the shops won't have to play radios and pay the tax.

Now I'm all for creative folks getting paid for producing their various art forms. Heck, I still buy full CDs because I appreciate the effort that goes into a songwriter/singer's decision to include certain songs in a certain order on a complete disk.

And if a business uses a service that pipes music into the store, I fully support the price of the shopping soundtrack including a fee to cover the song royalties. If the business then adds a few pennies to what they charge me to cover that, well that's how commerce works.

But paying a fee just for plugging in a radio at your shop and cranking up your favorite station? C'mon. That's definitely is out of tune taxation.

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