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Monday, February 02, 2009
Blu-ray Royalty Fees Expected to Effect Retail Prices in Japan

Copyright holders have succeeded in applying extra charges on sales of Blu-ray DVD recorders and discs in Japan, despite the electronics industry's strong opposition.

The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency decided Friday to have electronics makers add effective copyright royalties to the retail prices of Blu-ray recorders and discs from April 1.

The charges would be several hundred yen for a Blu-ray recorder and several yen for a disc.

However, whether the surcharge will be introduced as planned is uncertain given the electronics industry's strong opposition.

Manufacturers and copyright holders in Japan have engaged in a fierce debate on compensatory charges and the allowable number of disc copies consumers are allowed to make, after recording their favorite digital TV program.

Last June, the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which oversees digital broadcasting, struck an agreement to expand the scope of royalty collection to Blu-ray recorders and discs in exchange for launching the so-called "dubbing 10" rule. The function allows Japanese consumers to make up to 9 copies of a DVD that holds terrestrial digital content.

But in exchange for the acceptance of the dubbing 10 rule, copyright groups had demanded royalties on sales of hard disk recording devices as well as Blu-ray recorders and discs.

Since this rule was adopted, the electronics industry has continued to refuse adding royalties to the retail prices of Blu-ray recorders and discs.

The Japanese Cultural Affairs Agency is expected to unveil a bill to revise a relevant ordinance and hear opinions from the general public and concerned industries on the proposed surcharge.

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