People Aren't Buying Blank CDs Any More, So Collection Agency Demands Media Levy Expanded To Mobile Phones

from the well,-if-you-bet-on-obsolete-technologies dept

We’ve always found the concept of blank media “levies” to be strange. They’re a kind of “you must be a criminal” tax, that aims to shoehorn in an unworkable business model in a way that highly distorts an actual market. But, of course, then people become reliant on that distorted market as well. So I find it somewhat amusing to see an article pointing out that content creators in Sweden are now “losing out” on revenue from blank CD levies, because people no longer buy blank CDs and DVDs (who needs ’em any more?). The article, of course, was pushed by the organization that collects and distributes the levy, Copyswede, as part of its effort to expand the levy to internet connections and hard drives and such:

We don’t currently receive any revenue from hard drives or telephones despite legislation decreeing that fees should apply to any products that are particularly suitable for piracy. The pattern we think we’re seeing is one of piracy moving to external hard drives and USB flash drives while telephones are being used for storage…

And what makes you think you should automatically get free money from people using these technologies when the content creators you represent fail to adjust or adapt at all? But rather than adapt, Copyswede is just taking the position that more technologies should be taxed and the market should be distorted further. The plan is to tax mobile phones 100 kronor (about $14), because having the government step in and force people to give you money is, you know, a lot easier than actually having to work for a living.

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Comments on “People Aren't Buying Blank CDs Any More, So Collection Agency Demands Media Levy Expanded To Mobile Phones”

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Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

So much data, too little space

I used to make backup copies of my CDs which I would use while traveling, etc. Now, I make copies as disc images which I store on my network storage array and rip mp3 copies which I use for mobile purposes (car, phone, etc). I am purchasing a fraction of the numbers of CDs now that I did just a couple of years ago in preference to 2-4GB micro SD cards which I use for mobile storage.

Personally, I think a “media tax” is bogus, as is all DRM and restrictions on copying of music/video content legally purchased for personal use. That is why I don’t own a Blu-ray device. It is time the content/labels started getting a clue, and stopped treating their customers like criminals…

Bitty says:

Media tax?

If there is a levy on blank media (due to them assuming we’re dirty, filthy pirates), why does it not give us the right to put music/movies on it no matter where it came from? In other words, we should be able to burn a movie that we downloaded or otherwise copied onto that blank media, whether or not we’ve purchased a copy of that movie in the first place. You can’t have it both ways. Either charge the levy that gives us those rights or don’t charge at all.

Tor (profile) says:

Re: Media tax?

Well, officially the levy is intended only to compensate for the exemption in the Swedish copyright law that makes it legal to make a limited number of copies of a copyrighted work for private use (including giving it to a close friend). A bit ammusingly it’s also intended to compensate for your right to make copies that will only be used by yourself (eg. making a copy of a CD for use in the car in order to not risc scratching the original).

Anyway, whatever perspective one applies the fact still remains that the precision in terms of both input (what media to which it should apply) and output (who should receive the money?) is terribly bad. To me it would have made more sense if the politicians would have taken this money from the overall pool of tax money and call it a subsidy to the cultural sector with governmental control over the distribution. That’s very close to what we have now anyway.

Btw. there was a funny ironic blog post commenting the story (run through Google Translate – “krukavgiften” means “pot levy”)

John Doe says:

Please, please, please do that in the US

I wish one of these IP taxes would hit the US, say on broadband connections. I don’t currently pirate anything, not music, movies, software, books, etc. But if I get a license/tax added to my cellphone or broadband connection, then I will have a license to “steal”! (insert evil laugh here).

Seriously, charge me for something I don’t do and I will become the worlds largest pirate in the world (to misquote the Nationwide insurance commercials.) So please, tack on a buck somewhere so I can get all the free content I could ever dream of.

Donald Jessop (profile) says:

What about Photocopiers?

I was under the impression that all of the latest photocopiers/scanners had hard drives built into them. I wonder what the fee will be for those? USB Keys? The SD Card for my camera? My PS3/Xbox360/Wii? I have a 30GB hard drive built into the stereo of my new minivan (sorry, family man).

I think this collective is thinking too small. Maybe they should tax the human brain. After all, if we memorize the words aren’t we storing it in another form?


actually this is partly wrong

they aren’t buying cdrs because they are more expensive then dvdrs which hold 7 times the space
aka i can buy dvdrs at 50% the cost of cdrs
WHICH btw do not have the Canadian levy.

and do not laugh the canadian example ahs been a SCAM the CRIA that collects it is stealing that money and hasnt been paying anyone up here since the late 80’s

THEY HAVE BEN USING THIS CASH TO PAY FOR YOUR LAWSUITS IN THE USA. They should get this collecting taken away form them and it is in fact part of a 6 billion dollar lawsuit.

kyle clements (profile) says:


I’m not entirely against levies.

If they want to eliminate the social incentive to purchase media legitimately to avoid the feeling of guilt for ripping off an artist, that’s fine with me.

When I know the artist already got paid because I bought a piece of levied blank media, that only motivates me to download more to make sure that I get my money’s worth out of it. They assume I’m guilty, so I’m going to do it. And there will be no guilty feelings.

The moral argument that, “artists should get paid for their work” is dead because of levies. Artists are getting paid.

Has anyone thought about an optional levy on ISP’s?
Why not introduce something like an optional $5/month levied service that protects your privacy absolutely (no records are kept), and protects you from any potential infringement lawsuits? Are their major flaws with that idea?

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Re: idea

Has anyone thought about an optional levy on ISP’s?

Yes, music and newspaper beggars have been asking for this type of thing

I kind of like the privacy insurance concept, but then again, not so much. It’s almost like having to pay an honesty fee for those who are not mass-infringers. On the flip side signing up for the service could be a flag for industry snoops to do deep inspection on the periphery of the ISP’s network.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: idea

Why not introduce something like an optional $5/month levied service that protects your privacy absolutely (no records are kept), and protects you from any potential infringement lawsuits? Are their major flaws with that idea?

So you mean that for only $5/month I could become an untraceable super spammer? No records kept to trace me at all? No, no major flaws with that. Sounds great to me!

TAMbot says:

I for one completely agree with this tax. How else are these starving artists supposed to get paid from the pirates who enjoy their music aside from our successful lawsuits. With the activist judges who are lowering our payouts, the courts have failed us miserably. It is time we used our government as a tool for us, the private music industry, for once.
Any media that our devices are used on should be taxed the price of at least 2 full dvds and 3 cds a month as this would be the fairest way to ensure that the artists represented by the RIAA and the ASCAP are compensated. Since they have the artist’s interests at heart they are logically the best ones for the job.
Kudos on this Copyswede adn may it be only the first step towards justice!

ChronoFish (profile) says:

Why wait for a purchase - just add to income tax

Let’s assume for a moment that the average taxpayer will use technology at some level. Let’s assume that the same person enjoys 12 movies and 6 new CD’s a year. This average increase as expendable income increases. It also increase as the number of teens and early post-teens live in the household.

Clearly enjoying entertainment and using technology is a dangerous mix. Those who know how to copy music and movies will do it at some point.

Obviously, through no fault of their own, the music industry is in serious trouble. The solution is obvious – we need global levies that are technology agnostic (because it’s always changing), and tied to household income.

Tax returns should include lines that calculate the household entertainment multiplier based on a minimum of the the average number music albums/cds/songs and movies that are purchased + some provision for those who earn more than average.

This money will be paid to the entertainment industry who will then decide how to distribute the money – most likely paying back substantial debt that was never recouped for up and coming bands and movies and TV shows who owe money on production costs.

This measure clearly ensures that the artist get what they deserve, while also preserving America’s lead in global entertainment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why should I have to pay for someones crimes, If I buy a hard drive to store my work/data base in, I shouldn’t have to pay anything extra for music I don’t like, movies I wont see, or anything else that doesn’t interest me. I think those sue happy companies can take there marbles and stick them where the sun don’t shine. If the artists don’t want there talents seen/heard without getting millions of dollars, then stop making it, others will take your place, and be happy to do it for a fraction of the cost. Maybe we should have a blackout month, stop buying there products for a month. Only get stuff from the starving artists of the world.

Anonymous Coward says:

why did they create burners then? why did they create various storage devices?, for us to not use?. I dont agree with levies. Its the system thats broke. they should change with the times. (ex) i choose to spend money where i know the artist will get it, (ex) i go to the stadium and watch a concert, buy a couple t-shirts also, spend lots..Is it wrong to dl his/her cd for that concert? The music industry is almost as greedy as my isp

Paul Keating (profile) says:

Media Tax?

Not being familiar with the concept, does the purpose of the tax require that the original media copied for private use have been itself obtained legally?

For example, if I buy a song and copy it on a CD and give it to a friend, may the friend also copy that song onto a CD?

If the legal argument can be made that the tax in effect replaces any damage for infringement, then I may be all in favor of a tax on storage devices as it eliminates any personal liability for anyone not duplicating for mass marketing resale.

Kyle says:

Now, I think I may have missed something. But if the company is losing money then it just seems that they are getting a little “butt-hurt”. They are wanting the government to tax other companies producing more advanced technology than their own because they are not adapting their products. It seems like the childish stance of “If I can’t have it then I don’t want anyone else to have it.” Except in this case, it’s companies and involving money. Even with the tax in place, they wouldn’t receive money from it and may even be worse off.

And if they are frustrated about people downloading things it almost seems like they don’t know the basic interface of the interet. Every page brought up downloads the banners, pictures, colors, movement, etc. It is inevitable to stop downloading unless the internet was to be revamped. Which I would think would be so much harder than just getting over the fact people share media.

Josh says:

This sounds silly, people are -always- going to lose money because of the fact that people share their media, just like Kyle said. So you tax my phone, does that mean I get to download whatever I want without anyone saying anything else? I sure hope so, seems like they are trying to almost punish the general public for something that the general public isn’t doing as a whole. But hey, if it works, then like someone else up here said, don’t get mad at me when I download my free downloads, since technically I’m paying for it now. It seems like this would be encouragement for more people to just go and download loads of shared media because now they have to pay for it, so to pay for downloading the media and not downloading the media, would not be logical.

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