updated 06:25 pm EDT, Thu October 21, 2010
EU may lower levies on iPods and other devices
The European Court of Justice today ruled that EU countries had to scale back the reach of levies meant to compensate for perceived digital piracy with gadgets. Officials found in a Spanish case of a refusal to pay that member states should only apply levies on devices that were explicitly meant for private copying. Copyright holders and governments couldn't simply apply levies to any device that can make a copy, the court said.
The move would need to be codified by the European Commission but would ban levies in Switzerland and other EU nations on devices like iPods, smartphones and even printers. While copying is necessary to load music or print photos, the hardware isn't meant for copying in the same way as a DVD burner or another peripheral intended just for duplicating content.
Industry advocacy group DigitalEurope has already cheered the move as it would fight back against broad attempts to charge levies and make copyright holders like music labels consider the actual piracy risk. Nokia also liked the deal but believed it only affected business, not the mainstream.
Levies have been a constant problem for MP3 players not just in Europe but briefly in Canada and other countries. Music and movie studios have frequently insisted that levies applied to blank media should apply to iPods and similar handhelds since a chance exists that a user might load pirated material. Critics have responded that they aren't intended for copying and that it assumes that every owner is a criminal.