Wednesday, May 11, 2005

French Go Dutch: Levies for the Gigabyte

The French may go Dutch on levies with a German twist. Levies is a certain extra amount paid for a storage device to remunerate rightsholders for private copying. In the Netherlands a recent proposal was presented to extent these levies to digital storage devices like hard disks and MP3 players, dubbed as the "iPod tax". In Germany levies are already applied to PCs, which may be codified by the new German Copyright Act. The IT industry fears that excessive levies may make technology prohibitively expensive. Under the new Dutch levies proposal one would apparently have to pay €3.28 ($4.3) in levies per gigabyte.

Now the extension of levies seen in Germany and The Netherlands seems to find its way to France. The Commission D'Albis is revising the levy system and now proposes to extent them to 80 + GB hard disks and USB key chains. This would be somewhat more modest than in The Netherlands, but the stakes are still high. Not in the last place for the collecting societies, who in France received 190 million euros through levies last year. For comparison, the music industry grossed 953 million euros in France. Since consumer organisations and IT manufacturers are also part of the commission it will have to be seen if the proposals see the day of light.

This all comes at a time that the head of the European Commission's Copyright Unit has spoken out against collecting societies and pushed DRM for the future. Like the universe collecting societies seem to expand, one last time before they start to shrink into nothingness. Maybe they should propogate a universal licence instead, before DRM gets the best of them: one tax to rule them all.
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News and French figures thru WeBlogs P2P & NTINC [French]


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