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EU Commission holds off decision on copyright levy

Posted: 19 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:EU? MP3 player?

The EU Commission has delayed its decision to reform a tax on gadgets such as MP3 players that can reproduce copyright material, expressing the need to prepare more for such agenda, according to spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen. The tax or levy, imposed by about 20 EU member states, compensates artists and performers for the private copying of their works.

"The Commission has decided more reflection is required on this complex issue," said Hansen. "When it is ready, it will bring it on the agenda of the Commission." She added that the delay was not influenced by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's letter regarding the levy.

EU internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy was due to publish a recommendation on how EU can strictly enforce a 2001 copyright directive. The directive has a clause that allows governments to scrap the tax on products such as digital music players, copiers and scanners. However, McCreevy's plans were overruled by Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso after the receipt of Villepin's letter, industry sources said.

In his letter, Villepin wrote, "This remuneration represents for artists a not-insignificant source of revenue which is important to maintain." He added that the levy protects Europe's cultural diversity and that the issue needs extensive consultation.

Meanwhile, the Copyright Levies Reform Alliance, which represents the electronics industry, said it would hold a news conference "on President Barroso's decision to withdraw imminent Commission recommendation to reform copyright levies."

While McCreevy has faced heavy lobbying over the levy, the electronics industry is calling the tax outdated.

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