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Thursday, February 14, 2008
Industry Allpauds Commission Relaunch of Levies Reform

The European digital technology industry applauds the announcement today by EU Commission that it will relaunch the reform of the copyright levies system in the European Union.

Commission announced the re-launch of a consultation process on Private Copying Levies. EU Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said today that he wanted to have a fresh look at all the issues involved.

"I hope this new round of consultations can lead to solutions being found to the discrepancies that the diverse application of these levies have led to", he said.

'There is a need for a genuine open discussion between all stakeholders and that is what the present consultation is designed to facilitate. There can be no question of calling into doubt the entitlement of rightsholders to compensation for private copying. At the same time there is a need to look at how the levies are applied in practice. It should be possible to envisage some workable solution that assures the rightsholders of their due compensation and at the same time applying the levies in a way that is commensurate with the loss caused by private copying. If pragmatic and workable solutions are to be found, all sides need to come to this debate with a constructive approach.'

Mr McCreevy said that the consultation period would be open until 18 April. He added that the Commission would then hold an open hearing in June which would endeavour to see if a common approach between all stakeholders can be developed.

Mark MacGann, Director General EICTA, the organization that represents the information and communications technology (ICT) and consumer electronics industries in Europe, commented: "As an industry, we fully support fair and proper compensation for artists, creators and other rightholders. Industry is not advocating for private copy levies to be abolished, but has repeatedly demonstrated that the current system of 'rough justice' is opaque, unfair to consumers and industry, and does not fulfil the stated purpose of fairly remunerating right holders".

"All stakeholders should accept this final attempt by the current European Commission to ensure fairness, efficiency and transparency in how Europe?s creators are compensated for legitimate private copying of their work, and prove their willingness to engage in constructive dialogue".

Copyright levies are fees intended to compensate rights holders for the economic harm done by legal private copying; similar to a tax, yet their amounts are not statutorily decided. They are not intended to compensate for illegal copying, and should not be perceived as a 'piracy tax' on European consumers. Copyright levies were first collected on cassette recorders and blank cassettes in 1961. They were applied to video cassette recorders and blank video cassettes in the early 1980s. Today, they are applied to various types of digital devices as well as reprographic equipment such as copiers and multifunctional printers; and proposals are underway in several countries to extend copyright levies to new devices such as PCs, mobile phones and digital cameras.

The only European countries which do not apply copyright levies to devices and recordable media are Cyprus, Ireland, Malta, Luxembourg and the UK.

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