Cost of saying no to PIRACY.

While everyone is ranting over the demonetization policy and debating over PM Modi’s strategy, let me talk about a declaration made by the Central Board of Excise and Customs, Department of revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India amending the service tax norms so as to bring online information and database access/retrieval services under the taxable entities list.

The CBEC, through a series of four notifications — (46 to 49)/2016 — Service tax dated 09.11.2016 has introduced the Place for Provisions of Services Rule (PPSR) for online information and database access/retrieval services offered by foreign content providers like Netflix, Apple Music or Kindle store with effect from 01.12.2016. Earlier the taxation was charged for only B2B transactions and information databases were exempted from the scheme. Now with the inclusion of information database, starting from next month all foreign content providers will be levied with an additional 15% service tax which eventually burdens the citizens who subscribe to such services.

I am not a person who can talk about the validity or legal issues related to the amendment and all I know is that the subscription fees for these services will be hiked soon. So let me speak on the impact of this amendment on me.

Financial independence is the one and only fact that makes me proud and I admit this pride has made me do crazy things. But ever since I got a job in 2013, I made it a point to say good bye to pirated stuff — movies, TV shows, music and e books to name a few. I started a Netflix subscription when it was launched in India (though the monthly fee is a bit high) and bought a Kindle Paperwhite to give me company during my travel days. I did it not because I could afford them, but there were moments earlier in my life when I felt really bad using pirated stuff but was left with no other option. I was ridiculed by my friends and acquaintances just for the fact that I decided to stay away from piracy. It is a well known fact that with torrents and all that stuff, it is not at all a tough task to catch up on movies and TV shows in the 4G world today, thanks to the free internet by Reliance Jio and other service providers.

The monthly subscription for Netflix, Hotstar, Saavn and the frequent purchases i make on the Amazon Kindle store costs me around (650 + 199 + 99 + 350) Rs.1300 per month and with the additional 15% service tax, it’s going to be almost Rs. 2000 from December 2016. Looking at these numbers, I feel I am being made fun of. Till this day, it was just my friends, but now the administration which run this country too is doing the same. I am being burdened by all these stupid taxes just for the fact that I decided to stand out of the crowd and do the right thing — legally and morally. But my decision to be legally and morally right is costing me pretty much now. It’s not that I cannot spare Rs.2000 per month for these services. My question is why?

I can get a unlimited 4G or broadband connection for just one fifth of this price and enjoy all the movies, TV shows, music and e books and I am damn sure nothing is going to happen me or no one is going to act against me for illegally downloading stuff. This country India gives no damn to someone who follows the rules and the authorities are provoking me to break the rules and be someone who I never intended to be.

This country has a long way to go before those so called ruling class can take about anti piracy or moral and legal obligations of it’s citizens. As far as I am concerned, we have a long way to go before the much anticipated Achche Din.