France Poised to Change Blank Media Levy Calculating System

Burning a CD or a DVD may be an extraordinary convenience for many, but the very way royalties are calculated before being collected in France may change – and it won’t be based on alleged piracy.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

There are a number of countries that have implemented a blank media levy on portable media. The idea, when one boils it down, seems simple and straight forward. There are those that record or burn copyrighted material without authorization, therefore copyright holders should have a system of compensation.

In Canada, for instance, royalties collected on CDs are collected by an organization known as the CPCC. The CPCC takes the money that was collected through the levy on CDs and redistributes it to copyright holders. It’s a system that has been under appreciated by the major copyright industry when discussing things such as copyright reform mainly because it has undermined their typical argument that their profits have dropped (though there are pieces of evidence to suggest otherwise) While Canada and France are two completely separate countries on two separate continents, the underlying principle seems, at least, fairly similar.

Like in Canada, there has been opposition towards the levy, but now new developments as pointed to on French news site 01Net (Google translation) suggest that the underlying principle has been overturned – thus prompting a rethinking of the blank media levy.

The French courts seem to have annulled decision “No. 7” From the report (Google translation):

To calculate the amount of the fee levied on such equipment and returned to the rightful claimants, the commission had taken into account, wrongly, of damages resulting from unauthorized copies of video or phonograms, “justifies the Council. That is to say that piracy for the Council of State, should not be considered to determine the scales. In summary, this fee (5 to 50 euros) no longer be in the state.

Judging by that paragraph alone, this could prompt a major legal, civil, and business headache. If the blank media can’t be based off of supposed piracy going on through, among other things, private copying, then how does one base royalty calculations to keep the major copyright industry in France happy?

Obviously, going back to simply outlawing things like CDs won’t be a feasible option since burning CDs and DVDs is simply a common occurrence these days – whether it’s making a simple mix of your favorite tunes or losing nearly half the population of Britain in the mail, things like CD burning is just commonplace at this point in time – and people suggest the internet genie is out of the bottle.

What will be fascinating to watch is what France comes up with now that the method of calculation based off piracy has been overruled. It may be something all sides of the copyright debate may want to keep an eye on.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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