Thursday, 16 August 2012

How bloody stupid is EU law?

It seems that the reason my new camera, and many others, will not record more than 30 minutes of video is that to do so would subject the camera to 4.9% EU import duty that applies to camcorders.

Why do we have such a rule? It clearly does not collect more tax as camera manufacturers simply cripple their cameras so as not to allow a recording over 29:59. In fact, I can just press record again at that point I believe. So what the bloody hell is the point. Why make a law that simply inconveniences consumers in the EU by having the products they want to buy crippled by the manufacturer?

Pondering the stupidity of this law - surely if the camera, at the point of import, does not meet the criteria as a camcorder (i.e. crippled), but is later (within the EU) modified so that it is now a camcorder? Surely as, at that point, it is already imported, then it will not attract the duty.

So, come on Canon, release a s/w version that allows my camera to record more than 30 minutes but don't include it with shipped cameras, make it download only and I'll modify my camera by loading it.

I have suggested this to Canon, and asked for a reply on the matter.


  1. I'm not sure of the history of this tax but at present it acts in the camera manufacturer's favour. It gives them an excuse to cripple the video capabilities of a "stills" camera so as to ensure that people will buy a separate camcorder as well.

    It might have been worth looking at the 5D Mk III as Magic Lantern will run on that and it can do an auto restart (I think that it might still loose a second or so) when the time limit is hit.

  2. I suppose the question is "why do camcorders attract extra tax?"

  3. Is it not agreements in the GATT that force this limit though?

    The same idiotic agreenent that means that if you were to import discrete unassembled electronic components from outside the EU that they attract duty but a finished item containing the exact same components is not dutiable.

    I view it as giving every non-EU manufacturer of electronics a tax break... good job most of the EU isn't in a recession or it might be important in job creation....

  4. That used to be the strategy they used in a slightly different area: camcorders which could record from Firewire in (and maybe composite in as well?) were taxed more heavily than those that could only record from the sensor.

    However, there were plenty of third-party "unlocking" dongles which would restore the functionality...