Spanish consumers will from July 1 pay a special anti-piracy tax on all new gadgets capable of recording, copying or storing sound and images.

The tax, known as the "digital canon", arrives 18 months after its scheduled date following sometimes-angry debate between collecting societies and gadget manufacturers.

The list of taxes was published without warning in the Official State Bulleting (BOE) on June 19. There are a few minor changes to an initial "digital canon" list agreed by the industry and culture ministries and published in January. For example, mobile phones with integrated MP3 music devices will be subject to a €1.10 tax ($1.7) instead of the original €1.50 ($2.35).

The "digital canon" will be in force exactly one year before a scheduled revision. In that period, the tax collected must not be lower than €110.2 million ($171.9 million) or more than €117.8 million ($183.8 million). If it is higher or lower, the culture ministry must make necessary adjustments.

The tax is highly controversial. It is imposed to compensate authors and creators from the money they lose due to private copying, according to collecting societies such as authors' and publishers' society SGAE. The government accepts this argument. But consumer groups, Internet users and gadget manufacturers say many consumers do not use their gadgets to copy or record.

Internet User (AI) president Victor Domingo says his figures show the "digital canon" will accumulate €225 million ($350 million) in the first year, and he asks, "who will monitor SGAE and other collecting societies such as Egeda (audiovisual) and Cedro (publishers)? This money goes straight into their accounts."

The list of "digital taxes" includes €0.60 per CD recorder (same as the initial list); €3.40 per CD/DVD recorder (48.5% less); €3.15 per MP3 player (a new tax); €0.17 per CD-R (22.7% less); €0.22 per CD-RW (same); €0.44 per DVD-R (26.6% less); €0.60 per DVD-RW (same); €0.30 per USB-Flash (new); €10 per multifunctional laser printer (33.3% less); €7.95 ink cartridge printer (47% less); €9 per scanner (same).

A €12.00 ($18.70) digital canon will apply to Terrestrial Digital Television (TDT), but not until July 2009 as the official technological changeover does not arrive until summer 2009.

Pedro Farré, SGAE authors' rights director, said today, "we are satisfied that this ministerial order has been approved after so much delay, and we now hope the manufacturers will pay the canon. Technically, the manufacturers pay the canon - whether they pass the cost on to the public is their decision."

Manufacturers association Asimelec accepted the canon as "the best of two evils, because at least we now know how much to pay for each gadget".