Info.Europa brings news of a German report which claims that European consumers are paying 1.2 billion euros in copyright levies, which they must fork out when they purchase new audio and or visual equipment or media. The aim of the levies is to compensate copyright holders for personal copies that are made using these resources. The report argues that the knock-on effect of the levies is three times that figure though, as consumers are less likely to buy digital media if they are more expensive and, if they don’t own the media, then they won’t buy the content to play on it.

The IPKat is rather split by this issue. On the one hand he thinks levies can be a pretty efficient way for copyright holders to enforce their right to receive recompense. On the other, he’s not sure that its fair that the producers of new technologies should suffer because of this. On the other other hand, perhaps if they’re created products that are idea for infringement, they should be forced to bear some of the cost.
COPYRIGHT SPAWNS 1.2BILLION EURO TAX COPYRIGHT SPAWNS 1.2BILLION EURO TAX Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 Rating: 5


  1. I think that's the first time this blog has ever featured a three-handed Kat.

    Now, that's worth a pawse for thought ...

  2. There was an interesting discussion of this at an SCL seminar on e-commerce yesterday. One participant made the point that the current situation undermines the credibility of the copyright system: you tell people that there is no private copying right under English law, and that consequently it is an infringement of copyright to rip their CDs on to their PCs and/or iPods, and instead of shrinking in horror at the realisation of their illicit actions, they respond: "Well, that's the law's problem, isn't it?"

    OTOH, copyright levies are likely to be about as popular as leprosy. Why should I pay a levy on blank CD-R's that I use for backing up data on my computer? (OK, let's set aside the question of whether I have my entire CD collection "backed up" on my hard drive or not. I'm making no admissions. You'll never take me alive, copper!)

    However, IIRC the only way to allow for an exemption for "format-shifting" (which would seem an eminently sensible way to proceed) is to couple that with a provision allowing for copyright levies. And if the exemption were restricted only to format-shifting rather than a general private copying right, then this would (on a political, if not a legal/logical level) support the argument that the levies should be minimal: on the grounds everyone was already doing this, and the only thing making it unlawful was an "anomaly" in the law, so the copyright owners are not really missing out anyway. (I can imagine the content-providers having a thing or two to say in response to that one, and it's not difficult to think of one or two counterarguments, but equally you can see how the case could be made on a political level.)

  3. Another thought that sprang to mind as soon as I hit "publish": the whole concept of levies on blank *media* probably has 2 or 3 useful years' life left in it anyway. What happens when we all start backing up our data to multi-gigabyte servers (hosted in the US), using fast broadband connections? (I believe Amazon already offer this service.)

    Oh, and Jeremy: Since when was it a problem for a cat to have three hands? The IPKat had room for at least one more vacillation there, and possibly even two if he was allowed to include his tail as well...


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