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 user 2010-01-11 at 10:48:25 am Views: 35
  • #23258


    Europe’s dysfunctional private copying levy to remain
    you live in Belgium, you could pay a whopping levy of €178 on your
    inkjet multifunction machine to cover all your “private copying.” But in
    Germany, you could pay €12 on the same printer. An effort to reform the
    madness has just broken down.Europe’s “private copying levy” system is a
    mess. You might pay a hidden charge of €3.15 in Spain for an MP3 player
    but a full €25 in France. An inkjet multifunction printer levy could
    run €178.84 in Belgium but only €12 in Germany. Some countries, like the
    UK, have no levy at all. But the talks to reform the system have broken

    The levies are designed to compensate copyright holders
    for “private copying.” The definition of “private copying” varies by
    country, as do the rules on what devices are covered and how much should
    be paid. In many cases, no definitive guidance is given, and device
    resellers and importers have to work out agreements with various
    collecting societies who distribute the cash to members.Rules that were
    clear in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s are less clear since the arrival of
    digital technology; today, just about any computer-like device can make
    or store “copies,” including computers, external hard drives,
    multifunction printers, MP3 players, smartphones, blank DVDs, CD-Rs,
    photocopiers, and more. Which devices should pay the levy, and how much
    should be charged? A computer’s key job (for most people, at least) is
    not making private copies of music, so determining a levy amount can be

    The situation got so bad that the EU convened a summit
    between the device/media people and the collecting society people,
    hoping to get them to hash out a more coherent situation on their own.
    That process broke down yesterday.Digital Europe, which represents the
    device/media people, said that the talks only served to show that “there
    are fundamental aspects of the private copy levy system which simply
    cannot be resolved in a stakeholder forum. A political and legislative
    intervention is required at the European level.”

    GESAC, the
    European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers, deplored the
    “unilateral decision to abandon talks.” In GESAC’s view, the two sides
    were close to an agreement that would fix problems with moving and
    selling goods within the EU. All that was needed was “exemptions and
    refunds for cross-border movement of goods subject to levies, a regime
    for distance sales, the call for consistent product definition
    throughout the EU, etc.” Simple, right?As it stands, Belgians will keep
    driving over the border in search of good deals on multifunction