EU Copyright Holders Cling To Old Levies, As New Ones Start To Appear On Cloud Storage

from the time-to-stop-this-nonsense dept

Levies on blank storage media are a relic of older times when copying was a new possibility for copyright works. You no longer needed an LP pressing plant, say, you could copy music in the comfort of your own home, first on analog cassette tapes, then later on digital media like CDs and MP3 players. At that time, it was easy to see each of those copies as somehow replacing purchases, and so the argument for levies was born: people should pay indirectly for the “lost” sales their copying caused.

Fast forward to the Internet age, when everything online is copied multiple times as it traverses the nodes of the network, and where everyone is constantly copying files, regardless of copyright law — with a potential annual liability of around $4.5 billion, according to a well-known study by John Tehranian. Basically, the idea that every copy of a digital file must be paid for is dead, which makes levies on storage media — currently being pushed to absurd levels in some countries — look even more unjustifiable.

Even the copyright holders are aware of this. A new “Declaration on Private Copying Remuneration” (pdf), pointed out to us by an article in Intellectual Property Watch, tries to convince people that levies are fair:

Private copying is becoming a more and more frequent subject of debate. The companies which market copying devices are systematically attacking the system through European and national courts, lobbying and through the press. On behalf of hundreds of thousands of creators we, the undersigned organisations representing authors, performers and producers of musical, audiovisual, literary and visual arts works, feel the need to give a reminder of why private copying combined with fair remuneration remains essential.

But its attempted justification fails right at the start:

Over 50 years ago, the first commercially available recording devices created a dilemma. Copyright as it stood at the time required permission for each act of copying of protected works. It was practically impossible for private users to get permission whenever they wanted to copy something. At the same time, rightsholders were clearly entitled to remuneration for such use of their works.

To resolve this, the vast majority of European countries allowed private copying as long as remuneration was paid to the rightsholders. These national pieces of legislation were brought together at European level in 2001, reiterating the necessity of rightholder remuneration.

Well, no: they are not “clearly” entitled at all. When people pay for music or videos, they pay for the ability to enjoy them, possibly on a range of different devices. Making copies of CD tracks to an MP3 player, or of DVDs to a tablet does not entitle copyright holders to any more money, since they have done nothing extra to deserve additional remuneration. They produced the work, they were paid for the work, end of the story. The fact that copyright does not allow such reasonable, everyday actions without “exceptions” just shows that it is unfit for the modern world, where personal copies are ubiquitous.

Against this background of increasing irrelevance for copyright levies, it’s a shame to see the European Commission meekly accepting their imposition on cloud-based storage systems. Here’s what it writes in one of the documents (pdf) accompanying its new strategy for “Unleashing the potential of cloud computing in Europe“:

Currently, depending on the national private copy levy system, private copy levies are being asked for the storage media and the hard ware used by consumers in the context of cloudservices.

But trying to impose a complicated set of differing national levies on cloud computing services will simply reproduce the huge problems that a fragmented copyright licensing market is causing for startups in the EU. Moreover, cloud computing actually reduces the need for levies altogether, as the same paper points out:

Some of the technologies applied in the digital context, such as streaming, have the potential of reducing the number of copies which are actually made on consumer devices. Cloud computing services, where end-users are actually replicating less on their personal local devices have been seen as a game changer, making the private copy levy concept less appropriate, as digital technology advances.

Rather than permit an outdated system to throttle innovative cloud services in Europe, the Commission should use the shift to this technology to kill off the private copying levy once and for all.

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Comments on “EU Copyright Holders Cling To Old Levies, As New Ones Start To Appear On Cloud Storage”

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Richard (profile) says:


The problem with all of this is thast it makes the assumption that all that anyone ever does with these media is copy stuff from mass media producers.

Those of us who use the media primarily – or even entirely – for our own stuff resent these levies. Why should I pay Sony a levy on the media I use to copy my own programs and data?

Anonymous Coward says:

“they are not “clearly” entitled at all.”

It’s the basics of why anti-copyright people don’t get it. If you use something that doesn’t belong to you, you need to pay a fee for it.

How hard is that to understand? You will try to twist it into artists being entitled to a profit, which they are not. They are entitled to get paid for their work, however.

I shake my head, because this is the basic stuff. If you can’t grasp this, well… I hope you never sell anything people have to pay for.

Zakida Paul says:

Re: Re:

What about the basics of what idiot trolls like you don’t get? I buy a DVD or an album, I have already paid for it and am entitled to enjoy it in what ever way I see fit.

How hard is that to understand? Get it through you thick inbred skull. I BOUGHT THE DVD SO THE CREATOR HAS GOTTEN PAID.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

It is problematic for the record company because of how they deal with rights to sell: A publisher buys “exclusive” right to make CDs and sell them in that “market”. If you allow someone from the outside to create a CD with the music, the exclusive publisher of CDs in the “market” sees it as a breach of his “exclusivity” and when the publishers see this, they are not willing to pay the record company as much since it is no longer an “exclusive” deal.

Be aware that without the “”-words the argument would be oblivious. Now it is just a douchy way of keeping margins unrealistically high.

silverscarcat says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Yes, you paid for it.

Your neighbor didn’t.

Giving him a copy wasn’t included in your purchase.



What’s your point?

If I loan my neighbor a DVD or a music CD, it’s *MY* choice.

It’s *MY* property to do with as I please.

I can re-sell it, put it in the garbage, loan to a friend, invite 20 people over to my house and we can watch, or rip it and put it up on the net.

I own it, I paid for it, it’s mine.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Okay, you might have a point with regards to those that use such devices strictly for piracy. But what about all the people who don’t? How do you justify screwing them over?

Keep in mind, these levies aren’t being used to fine people for what they are doing, they are being used to fine people for what they might be doing.

Considering the idea of ‘you should only be punished for the stuff you do’ is about as basic as it gets, and you still seem unable to grasp it, you are most certainly not qualified to be acting condescending to others for missing ‘simple ideas’.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If you use something that doesn’t belong to you, you need to pay a fee for it.”

Indeed. What does that have to do with using the music I’ve already paid for, as per the examples in the article? Did you get confused between the actual arguments being made and the strawmen you’ve invented in your own head again?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“The examples in the article are not generally the way things are copied. People don’t bang out a dozen copies of the same album to put in each player they own. It’s not their nature. What does get copied is the stuff they didn’t pay for.”

Bull. The actions being spoken about are people copying tracks from a CD to their MP3 player (or sometimes vice versa), ripping a movie to their media centre, recording a movie from the TV and all sorts of other things that people do on a regular basis, perfectly legally.

Just because you fancy getting paid every time someone does this to their property, that doesn’t make it so. I know that you people like getting paid for doing nothing, but that’s not how life works. I bought the music, you don’t get to be paid multiple times just because I’m using it in my own home in a way you didn’t think of before making the sale. Pretending that these legal actions don’t exist because it helps streamline your argument, that doesn’t make your argument any less fictional.

Stop poking that strawman, and come here and address the real world.

“You know, your collection.”

Why are you so incapable of addressing reality that you have to lie about me in order to address any point?

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Usually people tend to judge the others based on their own actions *hints at AC*. But I digress…

He’ll refuse to acknowledge the issue. For him everyone is a criminal so these levies make sense. Or he’s a greedy bastard that feels entitled to get money every single time people make a personal copy. Or both. In any case, it’s a waste of time, just ignore the troll.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“If you use something that doesn’t belong to you, you need to pay a fee for it.”

I use a Linux based OS every day. I use development tools and programming languages (python, for example) almost every day. And you know what? I haven’t paid for any of it. I shamelessly took it all for free. I even torrent(ed) the OS.

Of course, all of that, which constitutes decades of ACTUAL WORK is given away for free. No fees. No strings attached.

So much for your theory. Where do we go with this now? Are you going to accuse me of being a pirate for something you made up?

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“It’s the basics of why anti-copyright people don’t get it. If you use something that doesn’t belong to you, you need to pay a fee for it.”

Copyright doesn’t say “you must pay for it”. It says that the author has the right to dictate the terms under which you may receive a copy of his expressions. It also does not assign title of property of the expressions to the author, only distribution rights. Why? Because the expression was built from the resources of the public domain. If you form an expression that is born from cultural context, you’ve made use of the public domain.

Based on the fact that all authors inevitably make use of the public domain, which belongs to everyone, your assertion that people are “taking something that doesn’t belong to you” is false, it does belong to us. Copyright takes it from us and grants an author the rights to control it, but not own it. It’s the same concept as giving a telco a monopoly on the infrastructure of the public. They don’t own it, it belongs to us, but they are in charge of making it useful to the public.

“They are entitled to get paid for their work, however.”

No, they’re not. Copyright does not grant an author entitlement to be paid, it leaves that entirely up to the author how and what qualifies as just compensation, which is an agreement that must be formed between the author and the public. And the public has the right to agree with, or reject, that. The burden for forming a business model that suits the needs of the author is firmly placed on the author’s shoulders, not the law’s. If an author can’t make a business model work due to the nature of information, then their model was never solvent in the first place. They should change, not us. Copyright is not a handout for authors. They have to find their own way to get paid, just like everyone else.

I shake my head because you think you know it all, but you’ve not even begun to understand the laws around this. You’ve cherry-picked what the talking heads and corporate mouthpieces have told you is true, sprinkled in some moral relativism, and assumed the rest on your own.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s the basics of why anti-copyright people don’t get it. If you use something that doesn’t belong to you, you need to pay a fee for it.

Close, but not quite. The majority of the objections I read here to copyright are not actually about the ability to use things that people have no right to use. Quite the opposite, the objections are about privacy and the ability to use things that you do have a right to use.

You will try to twist it into artists being entitled to a profit, which they are not. They are entitled to get paid for their work, however.

Please explain the difference.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s the basics of why anti-copyright people don’t get it. If you use something that doesn’t belong to you, you need to pay a fee for it.

What you don’t get is that I am NOT using stuff that doesn’t bleong to me – YET I STILL HAVE TO PAY THE FEE.

I buy a blank CD. I use it to back up my own programs. Or record my own music.

Why should I pay a fee?

ECA (profile) says:

Copying has been going on for years

for all that is said above..
A few things to point out..
copying has been going on longer then 50 years..
1 artist may copy another just to be the same music long ago.

But in the long run YOU PAID for the whole thing, not a recording. You paid for the orchestra, the Artist to PLAY for you, even if they were NOT the original. THEY SHARED the music.

Even NOW, looking at the money they get. ONLY after years and Years do they Start to get good money for the ORIGINAL music..
The contracts most artist in the past and NOW sign. Tend to be CRAP tot he artist. more money is gathered by the corps then by the artist, Unless they can make an album that sells for 10+ years and a song Everyone loves.
Artist (are supposed) to make MORE money while on the road. Doing their music. Even doing OTHERS music..

Anonymous Coward says:

the first thing that should happen is to get rid of the fucking old farts that keep coming up with the bull shi excuses to help an industry carry on in the same way it has done for decades. if that were to happen, maybe there would be some advances in technology above what we have had so far and there would be more innovation and progress for everyone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So are stone coal power plants and before that the tape-recorder and before that horse carriage and before that etc.
Just pointing out that it is a general trend that people are trying as hard as possible to fight progress if it happens at the expend of their own sectors jobs.

Copyright industry is not dying. It has to go through a change and the politicians have to block their creative way of getting their will. Eventually copyright can foster a respectable business again. The burden is created by an old conservative generation with a lack of visions. It will change.

Anonymous Coward says:

Where's mine?

So how do I get a cut of this action? Write a song? A book? What portion of the blank media fees will that entitle me to? Every author, musician, actor, etc. gets his blank media check each month, right?

What’s that you say? The money doesn’t actually go to creators? It goes to large organizations that claim to represent creators? What a scam!

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