updated 10:00 pm EST, Mon January 30, 2012
Company collects, but disputes need for, tax
A French copyright association has sued Apple in that country, charging that the tech giant has been collecting a French "copyright tax" on iPads but not paying the money to Copie France, which distributes the finds to authors, artists and other performers as a form of compensation for personal copying, a French newspaper reports. Apple, along with other tech firms, has gotten the tax abolished for 2012, but is still disputing $6.3 million in back taxes.
A number of countries outside the US add a surcharge on either computing devices, blank media or both that is collected into a general fund and distributed to artists or rights holders within that country to make up for lost sales due to "private copying" (not to be confused with large-scale internet piracy, the tax is intended to grant citizens a blanket coverage for personal device-to-device copying). Copie France alleges that Apple raised the price of the iPad by about nine Euros to accommodate the tax in February, but has not paid into the fund since January 2011.
The tax affects only devices with 64GB of storage or more, and the commission estimates that Apple has sold 500,000 such iPads over the course of 2011 in France. The iPad and similar devices are no longer subject to the tax beginning in 2012, after successful lobbying efforts from Apple, Nokia, Motorola, RIM and Sony-Ericsson along with several unions that protested the fee. They argued successfully that it was imposed without consideration of actual use (or abuse) and contradicts European court decisions that undermine the whole concept of private copying levies.
Copie France estimates that Apple owes around 4.74 million Euros ($6.3 million) and has filed suit in Nanterre to recovery the money. The commission is expected to meet on February 3rd to discuss the issue and investigate any further actions. The court case has not yet to trial. [via Les Echos]