Copyright

by Glyn Moody


Filed Under:
copyright levy, eu



Outdated European Copyright Levy System Descends Further Into Disarray

from the put-it-out-of-its-misery dept

A couple of months ago, Ben Zevenbergen explained how the Dutch Supreme Court was finding it difficult to reconcile different aspects of Europe's copyright rules. At the heart of the problem is the copyright levy system, effectively a tax on blank media that is supposed to compensate copyright holders for a supposed "loss" from copies made for personal use.

One issue is whether this system should also pay for the claimed loss from unauthorized copies. As Techdirt has reported, study after study suggests that people who share files spend more on culture. Despite this, copyright companies cling to the idea that they must be "compensated" for this sharing by yet higher taxes on blank media.

This has led to huge hikes in the German levy, and big increases in the Netherlands, where the manufacturers of equipment subject to the copyright levy have decided to fight back, as reported in this IT World story:

Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell and Imation are suing the Dutch government over new levies on hard disks, smartphones, tablets and MP3 players that are meant to compensate the music and movie industries for losses caused by home copying.
The copyright industries want 40 million euros, which the equipment manufacturers think is excessive for a couple of reasons:
The 40 million euros also incorporates damages for illegally downloaded music and movies which, according to the companies, legally cannot be recovered by a levy on devices. Furthermore the Dutch government established a levy on all devices including devices for professional use that are not used for private copying, they said.
Nor are the Dutch companies the only ones that are deeply unhappy with the present copyright levy system. In France, industry groups have recently resigned from the country's copyright levy commission, not least because the latter's composition means that copyright industries there are able to set the levies which they themselves will receive (original in French.) As the industry groups point out, this is a crazy situation that naturally encourages fees to be set at unjustifiably-high levels.

It's hardly surprising that an unsophisticated system originally devised for cassette tapes is proving unworkable for the digital era, where storage is being embedded everywhere, and is constantly increasing in capacity. The tide is turning, as the copyright industries implicitly admitted recently. The latest moves by hardware manufacturers are simply the next stage in a battle whose ultimate outcome seems clear: the complete abolition of outdated and irrelevant copyright levies.

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  1. icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), 29 Nov 2012 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re:

    I figure that we are buying an average of two disks every month for the servers alone.
    So. yeah. These levies aren't punishing pirates (I figure that pirates aren't buying one disk every month).
    Yeah, bit of a no-brainer that if you think about it:
    1TB of disk space will store.. what?.. somewhere around 200 films in decent hi-def encoding? Drop to standard def and it's in the thousands.
    On the other hand, if you actually create multi-media for a living you can easily get through multiple TB on a single project if you store your raw and working footage in, say, broadcast quality hi-def.

    Given the ease of use and ubiquitousness and low cost of basic multimedia editing tools (hell you can create on your smartphone now out of the box), a rapidly rising percentage of "normal" people who don't work in multi-media are playing with this stuff and filling up disks with it too. Even my 10-year-old loves creating his own animations.

    So we are in a situation where a bunch of asshats are demanding a bigger ransom despite an increasingly smaller percentage of the basis for the ransom being used for "infringing". Even if one thought it was a reasonable thing to tax media in the first place, surely anyone could see this a nothing more than the money-grab and attempt to hamper competition that it is?

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