Anyone who buys a consumer computer, printer or e-reader will from next year have to pay a fee for making private copies of copyright works, the two industry associations concerned have announced.
According to current Belgian and EU law, owners of media containing copyright works, such as CDs, are permitted to make copies for their own private use, for example to listen to music in the car.
In return for what is technically a breach of copyright, certain technologies that can be used to make copies have a small supplementary cost attached, which is used to compensate the copyright owners: authors, screenwriters, directors, journalists, performers, artists, and so on.
The cost of copying in force at the moment dates from 2013, and reflects a rather different copying environment than today’s. The aim of the supporters of the change – represented by technology industry federation Agoria and Auvibel, the association that collects and distributes the copy charge – is for the new tariffs better to reflect the type of copying used today.
“This new agreement takes into account, on the one hand, the interests of rights-holders in the Belgian creative sector and, on the other hand, the rapid evolution of the technology sector,” the two associations said in a press release.
“The selling price of the devices and carriers concerned is also taken into account, in order to ensure that the new rates represent a reasonable part of that sales price.”
For other devices not previously covered by the copy charge – smartphones, tablets, memory cards, DVDs and CDs among others – the tariff is flat-rate. For example a phone goes up from €1 to €3 at present to €4; a home computer will cost €4, but a blank CD or DVD will go down from €1.12 to €1.
According to a spokesperson for Auvibel, the same range of tariffs are considerably higher in neighbouring countries.
Auvibel and Agoria said in a statement that the new rates were preceded by a long process of cooperation with all parties involved, taking into account affordability for the consumer. The new rates should come into effect in the spring, after the Council of State has given its advice and the legal text is published in the Official Journal.
In the meantime, computers for professional use fall under a different regime operated by Reprobel. In order to avoid confusion in the case of mixed use, the organisation intends to publish a list of professional computers.