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German 'flash drive tax' jumps 2,338 percent

updated 06:47 pm EDT, Wed June 6, 2012

Tax is 'compensation for private copying'

German publication Heise is reporting that the ZPÜ, the German organization responsible for administering a tax on blank media, has announced a sizable increase in the blank media levy. According to the ZPÜ's announcement, the fee on flash drives and similar storage devices up to 4GB will rise from about 10 cents to $1.93. For devices larger than 4GB, the fee will jump from 10 cents to $2.42. For the smaller devices, the new tax rate amounts to a 1,850 percent increase, while the rate jumps 2,338 percent for larger storage media.

The tax is intended as a means of compensating the recording industry and other content creators for revenue lost due to piracy, on the assumption that blank media -- be it blank DVDs, flash drives, or memory cards for cameras -- is primarily used to copy protected materials. The money collected is pooled and distributed to artists based on their popularity. The German music royalty collection society, GEMA, is a member of the ZPÜ.

In its latest publication in the Federal Gazette, the ZPÜ gave no reason for the levy increases beyond "compensation for private copying." The new rate is likely to encounter protests from German storage manufacturers, who cite provisions in the rules governing the tax that forbid "unreasonable" rates. Other European nations, such as France, maintain similar levies for flash storage devices. Canada has a similar tax, which was implemented in 2002.

by MacNN Staff



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