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European Commission takes flak for gear levy

updated 01:00 pm EST, Wed December 19, 2007

EC takes flak for levy

A new, formal complaint has been filed with the European Commission, directed against an anti-piracy levy present on the continent, Reuters reports. The complaint was made to Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, but neither he nor Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy could say who made the complaint, except that the party objected to "obstacles to the free movement of goods."

Like Canada, all but two countries of the European Union -- Britain and Ireland -- collect varying amounts on items such as blank CDs and MP3 players, the money from which is used to compensate for illegal copying. In France and Finland for instance, the levy helps pay for cultural activities.

McCreevy and others have wanted to reform the levy since 2006, but due to its usefulness to governments and other groups, it has generally remained unchallenged in the legal realm. It produced 560 million ($806.7 million) across Europe in 2005, and French lawmaker Jacques Toubon notes that it currently accounts for some 35 percent of artist income. If removed, the levy could slightly lower the cost of electronics and recording media.




by MacNN Staff

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