Finland Abolishes Copyright Levies On Digital Devices

from the but-not-dead-yet dept

As we've noted before, copyright levies -- effectively a tax on blank storage media -- are becoming ever-more anachronistic and unworkable. So it's good to hear about a country doing the sensible thing and getting rid of them entirely (pdf):
Finland is the latest EU member state to scrap levies on digital devices, following similar moves in Spain and the UK. The Finnish Parliament on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to replace a levies system that has existed since 1984 with the creation of a government fund designed to compensate artists for private copying of content such as music and movies.
That's from a press release issued by the lobby group Digital Europe, which describes itself as follows:
Digital Europe represents the digital technology industry in Europe. Our members include some of the world's largest IT, telecoms and consumer electronics companies and national associations from every part of Europe. Digital Europe wants European businesses and citizens to benefit fully from digital technologies and for Europe to grow, attract and sustain the world's best digital technology companies.
Given its background, it's hardly surprising that Digital Europe hopes that Finland's decision is part of a wider move:
Pressure for EU reform is now greater than ever. The UK earlier this year passed a law that legalized private copying by individuals without any requirement for additional compensation to artists. Two years ago Spain replaced levies with a government compensation fund similar to the one adopted in Finland this week.
Although it's true that progress has been made, it's also worth noting that the usual copyright dinosaurs are fighting back, and that the final outcome is by no means clear. In the UK, the music industry has said that it may try to challenge the private copying exception in the courts. In Spain, legal action by collecting societies has resulted in two key questions about copyright levies being sent to the European Union Court of Justice, and its judgment on the case is likely to have important implications for such levies throughout the EU.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 2:51am

    No steps forward, two steps back

    voted overwhelmingly to replace a levies system that has existed since 1984 with the creation of a government fund designed to compensate artists for private copying of content such as music and movies

    With a levies/'You must be a pirate' tax, you only got 'taxed' if you bought something that fell within the purview of the law, like a blank CD, MP3 player or whatnot. However, if they're planning on replacing that with a 'government fund', then everyone is going to be paying, because who do you think is ultimately funding that?

    This change isn't an improvement, it's making the situation worse. All it's doing is replacing one system of free money for the movie and recording industries with another, further enshrining the idea that, even after you've bought something, you still need to pay extra to use it however you wish.

    Of course the real question, and one I don't believe I've seen answered yet, is, if private copying is legal, why exactly do the copyright owners deserve to get paid, again, for people doing so with what they bought? If I buy a CD, or a song online, why exactly does the copyright owner(rarely the actual creator) deserve to get paid again if I want to back it up or format shift it to another device?

    And if the idea behind such taxes/levies is to 'compensate' copyright owners for piracy, that's even worse. That's slapping people with an extra fee, based upon what they might do. That would be like sending everyone a ticket for speeding because some of them might speed; it's punishing the innocent and guilty alike.

    Getting rid of levies/'You must be a pirate' taxes would be a good thing, but simply replacing them with a slightly different system, and one that affects even more people? That is most certainly not, that's making things worse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 4:15am

      Re: No steps forward, two steps back

      Apparently Finnish Goverment is still so incompetent that they can't hire or just ask from any strategygameplayer that simple question:
      What could possibly go wrong?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 6:43am

      Re: No steps forward, two steps back

      "However, if they're planning on replacing that with a 'government fund', then everyone is going to be paying, because who do you think is ultimately funding that?"

      Agreed, this is not a good thing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:49am

      Re: No steps forward, two steps back

      Uh, you don't "Own it now on DVD," or anything, That One Guy. You own the DVD but not the content on it. What you've actually bought is a licence that limits what you can do with the content, e.g. show it outside of your home. They just haven't bothered to tell you that.

      As for the levies, this is the MAFIAA's attempt to extract a per-use toll on their products. You're right about everything else.

      We just need to make it absolutely clear that you can tell when a copyright apologist is lying: their lips are moving. You don't own what you paid for and when they say you do, it's not true.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 7:38am

        Re: Re: No steps forward, two steps back

        Uh, you don't "Own it now on DVD," or anything, That One Guy.

        They should be prosecuted for false advertising then.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 4:32am

    Rollercoaster of Emotion

    I was pretty excited until I read "Levies On Digital Devices."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 5:41am

    Copyright Levies are these companies triple dipping, and it should be stopped.

    They get a payment when someone buys content.
    They get a payment when someone buys something that COULD hold content.
    They get a payment when they sue people for allegations of copying content.

    They use all of this extra money to pass more restrictive laws, allowing them to maintain control over things they sold. No other industry (leaving the idiotic artists lifetime cuts of sales out for the moment) has this gift and allowed control. Sometimes a song is just a song, and not something magical that needs protection far beyond what is offered to similar things in the marketplace.

    They sky is not falling, they are still suing people & getting paid, handing them more money because of the argument of "it could be used for" needs to end. Bleach could be used to make weapons, lets add a levy to all the household chemicals because it could be used to do something and we'll create a fund to compensate people who might be injured by these weapons if they are made.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Dec 2014 @ 5:52am

      Re:

      Bleach could be used to make weapons, lets add a levy to all the household chemicals because it could be used to do something and we'll create a fund to compensate people who might be injured by these weapons if they are made.

      No no, much like the copyright levies, any funds collected due to a bleach levy would clearly need to go to the bleach companies. Because reasons. And money.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 6:20am

    Whether governments should subsidize art or not is a matter of opinion. Phrasing it as "compensation" certainly doesn't raise my opinion of it. But its still better than letting the copyright industry tax technology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shill, 22 Dec 2014 @ 6:39am

    This will be the end of content!!! Think of the humanity. Think of the poor artists. How are they going to ever get paid?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Dec 2014 @ 8:13am

    Btw, about the amounts:
    Levies were at their highest in 2007, when PVR's were bought by practically everybody due to the ending of analog tv signal.
    Each PVR with a hard disk for time-shifting included a 20e (or thereabouts, don't remember exactly) levy fee.
    Levies for the whole year were around 12 million euros.

    Last year they had halved and trend is still downwards.

    So now they have a government funded amount of 11 million euros - and they originally asked for 12 million.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Diogo, 22 Dec 2014 @ 2:04pm

    Portugal

    Here in Portugal the public and Free Software associations, are fighting a new law on copyright levies that will tax storage capabilities of cell phones, tablete, memory cards, USB disks and other digital devices and storage medium.

    We have been able to block this for three years, but now it looks it will be aproved (se have only suporta from a minority on the parliment and the governament has an absolut majority.

    Se haven't gave up, and won't stop fighting. Se will até least try that law demmands studies proving chat private copy is causing damage do the authors, and only taxa ir it's so. And also try to get an exception to DRM legal protection, for lawfull usages of the works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 23 Dec 2014 @ 4:12am

      Re: Portugal

      Good luck with that, just keep in mind, you're dealing with people who honestly believe if they're not getting paid every single time a song is played, then that means someone is stealing from them, so don't be too surprised at just how crazy/sleazy they can get.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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