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Vendors Sue Dutch Government Over Media Levies

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the lawyers-have-to-eat-too dept.

Music 55

An anonymous reader writes with news that hardware vendors aren't too happy about expanded levies on media. From the article: "Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell, and Imation are suing the Dutch government over new levies on hard disks, smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players that are meant to compensate the music and movie industries for losses caused by home copying. The entertainment industry estimates lost income of €40 million, which is much too high, according to the hardware companies. 'That amount is excessive and completely unfounded,' they said. The €40 million also incorporates damages for illegally downloaded music and movies which, according to the companies, legally cannot be recovered by a levy on devices. Furthermore the Dutch government established a levy on all devices including devices for professional use that are not used for private copying, they said."

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40 million too high? (3, Insightful)

devjoe (88696) | about 2 years ago | (#42057123)

In the US the entertainment industry attributes losses of more 40 million to a single file-sharer.

Re:40 million too high? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057145)

Wait so if I buy a HDD from a Dutch company can I pirate all I want?

I mean, I already paid them for the media right?

Re:40 million too high? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057281)

You can already download all you want in many non-americanized european countries, it was never illegal, only uploading was.

Re:40 million too high? (3, Informative)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#42057295)

Indeed, and that is what many people will do now. I hope this backfires tremendously. BREIN (the Dutch RIAA) is almost as bad as the American RIAA so they deserve it.

BREIN vs RIAA (5, Informative)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#42057935)

Actually, Stichting BREIN is a different kind of evil.

Although it's difficult to say which is more bad, I'm inclined to say that the RIAA is certainly worse.

Whereas the RIAA will happily target individuals and use their techniques to coerce people into paying a settlement fine rather than going through lengthy and very expensive litigation - and generally having the defendant end up paying great multiples of the settlement amounts... ...Stichting BREIN tends to target the entry points to distribution. I.e. TPB and various other torrent (indexing) sites, MasterNZB and various other usenet (indexing) sites.

The reason it's difficult to say which is worse is that while the RIAA goes after dead people, old grannies without computers, cats, etc. they do tend to 'only' target those people and there's no great erosion of fundamental concepts of copyright and the internet.

Stichting BREIN, on the other hand, has successfully managed to get courts to force ISPs to block sites, in one case even being allowed to add IPs to the list and the ISP must add those to the block list (though they can contest it if they feel the adding of an IP address is in err), has successfully managed to expand things from direct copyright infringement to the 'facilitating' argument (and continues to expand that), can happily get government officials to come along with them on 'raids' (no court order) making those they're raiding feel like they really have little choice but to allow e.g. computers to be taken, etc.

That said, BREIN isn't really the one to be targeting in this case. They just tend to catch the most flak (for the reasons outlined above). Stichting de Thuiskopie, SONT and Buma/Stemra (on the side of wanting levies) and STOBI (on the side of blank media producers/etc.) are the main players here , along with then-minister Fred Teeven for actually getting things signed into law a long time ago (an zero Euro levy, which formed the bridge to making it a non-zero Euro levy - whereas going directly for a non-zero Euro levy would have met with great resistance).

Re:40 million too high? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057349)

+1 Insightful

Re:40 million too high? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057609)

No you can't, that's why the industry says only private home copying (legal) should be compensated, not illegal copying.

Re:40 million too high? (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#42057645)

Yes, absolutely.

The â5 levy on e.g. a mediarecorder grants you a lifetime (for the life of the product) right to download any and all music and video products you want. Rather than paying â2500 for 100 DVDs, or â200 for 100 â2 'rentals', â5 and you are set. ... okay, no - not really. No more than the existing levies of a few dimes on tapes, video cassettes, CD-Rs and DVD-Rs are payola for putting those 100 movies on your HTPC.

The levy is a compensation measure for people copying, originating in the era of tapes. It's not a license to make those copies. And yes, it's a levy you pay even if you don't make copies - the alternative would be massive invasions of privacy to determine who is and who isn't making those copies. Or, of course, copyright reform - good luck with that one. Many of the same laws have been applied to the digital era* and with more people downloading to computers, 'MP3 players', etc. the levies on tapes and optical media were starting to be rather outdated.

Then again, downloading of such material is already legal in NL - it's only uploading that is illegal, and even uploaders are basically not targeted. (* This, too, is a result of laws formulated way back when - don't see too many complaints this aspect, though.) Major sites and facilitators on the other hand, are a different story. Several usenet account resellers were booted off by PayPal (while holding on to funds), for example - most likely after complaints by rights holders: http://tweakers.net/nieuws/85659/paypal-sluit-nederlandse-usenet-resellers-af.html [tweakers.net]

Note: This (the levy) is actually something being handed down from the EU level.. with the usual vague terms, causing each member state to implement things differently and leaving the courts to decide whether the implementation is in accordance, etc.

Re:40 million too high? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#42057971)

This is theft,wholly immoral and should be illegal. You do not correct a wrong by creating a new one. All this does is remind me that copyright law is bought, and has no relationship with justice.

Re:40 million too high? (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#42058457)

I wouldn't say it's 'theft', considering you have the option of not purchasing these goods, or purchasing exempt goods instead, or even getting an exempting license (administrative costs + no consumer store that I know of knowing how to handle it make that mostly a non-option, though).

As far as creating a wrong to deal with another wrong... there's many examples of exactly that being done and most people tend to be okay with it in light of alternatives.

Not sure about any appropriate analogy here, but let's go with the CRV. You effectively pay a levy (they just don't want to call it that) on certain beverage containers in California because other people just throw them out into nature - wasting perfectly good recyclable material and also.. well.. nature. As an incentive not to, you can recoup that levy by turning the empty can over to a recycling center - but let's face it, most people still just throw the cans out into regular trash or a generic 'metals go here' container, and let the litterpickers get the cans out and into their bags/shopping carts so those people can turn over hundreds of the things at a time and make a few bucks that way.

Re:40 million too high? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42065567)

you're not purchasing anything, you're having your own computer make a copy.

in the same way if my neighbor builds say a cool swing for his kids, and I go, hey that's cool, and do the same for mine, I haven't stolen anything.

if you don't understand that watch this 1minute youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4&feature=player_embedde by Nina Paley, it explains the issue pretty damn well

Re:40 million too high? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057983)

I don't think it's an EU obligation. Neither Luxembourg nor Malta have a private copy levy.

Re:40 million too high? (1)

Saithe (982049) | about 2 years ago | (#42057807)

That's what we've been jokingly discussing since we got a levy on CD/DVD media, and now we also get that levy on external HDDs and USB-drives here in Sweden. Either way, a levy on storage-media is not and never was the answer to anything, don't know how it can even be considered. One of the arguments for this new levy on external HDDs was: "It's primary function is for private copying" which is just ludicrous...

Re:40 million too high? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058257)

Right.

Copying and downloading audio and video content for personal use is *legal* in the Netherlands.

Uploading is not legal.

Re:40 million too high? (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about 2 years ago | (#42057237)

In the US the entertainment industry attributes losses of more 40 million to a single file-sharer.

Yeah really. Wasn't the RIAA asking for 72 Trillion just for losses from Limewire?

Re:40 million too high? (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 2 years ago | (#42057615)

Nah, they don't pay attention to the actual losses; statutory damages are so much higher that there's no point.

Re:40 million too high? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059081)

Their "math" goes like this:

losses = files shared * file sharers * maximum price.

What they leave out is that
1. nearly nobody would actually pay them if it was his only choice. because it's simply not worth the money, or they simply couldn't.
2. a copy is not worth actual money, since it didn't take actual work to make. only the original service (actual work) is worth money (made with actual work!). I am happy to give them a worthless copy of my money. :P
3. even if they would get "sales", nearly none would be at maximum price.
4. the numbers of file sharers and files shared are completely made up, and they openly admit it in their "studies".
5. they aren't 100% of the market, so... wait, why am I even arguing? it's blatantly obvious how absurd that whole calculation is.

Also, of course when you pay those levies, they still harass and prosecute still you, and openly yell that you are seafaring rapist murderous thugs, and put posters up insulting and harassing you. And bullshit the government into new totalitarian laws.

BECAUSE. THEY. ARE. ON. COCAINE.
(I wish I would be lying right now. But there’s a certain person who introduced me to the high levels of the music industry. Hookers, drugs... and *then* the contract gets signed. That was the standard procedure. :/)

Re:40 million too high? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059427)

In the US the entertainment industry attributes losses of more 40 million to a single file-sharer.

And that's just for a corpse or a network printer. A single file-sharer with a pulse could cost the industry 8 billion dollars [ted.com] !

Wealth Redistribution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057201)

Wealth redistribution: once they start they never stop!

Germany (4, Informative)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#42057263)

Many people in the Netherlands now buy their electronics in Germany, where it's much cheaper thanks to less tax and the absence of this ridiculous levy.

Re:Germany (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#42057733)

Many people have traditionally bought goods in Germany where it's much cheaper thanks to lower prices to begin with. Whereas Germany is stuck at 19% VAT, NL upped it to 21% recently.

On a E500 device, that means in Germany you'd pay E595, and in NL you'd add E605. If you add the levy of E5, that's E610. E15 is often barely worth it due to added delivery costs.

The thing is that in Germany the base price of the device isn't E500 in the first place. It might be something like E450. Now you're talking actual savings.

Why is it cheaper? Plenty of reasons that could be cited. Storage space is certainly a lot cheaper (for the same reasons housing in DE is a lot cheaper than it is in NL and a lot of Dutch people who lived near the border anyway have no problems relocating to DE.. to a bigger house.. with more land.. and lower costs), transport costs are lower, even translation of e.g. manuals is a lot more cost-efficient for the DE market than it is for NL (+Northern part of BE).

The absence of a levy would barely make a difference in purchasing decisions for these high-valued goods. People have been buying stacks of CD-Rs and DVD-Rs from Germany-based resellers, though. The levy there can certainly add up to a significant portion.

Re:Germany (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#42060207)

This is just like the situation in Canada and the US. Prices in the US were always less, and we always attributed it to the exchange rate, but now the US $ is pretty much on par with the Canadian $, and there's still a lot of cases where products are much cheaper in the US than in Canada. I know a few people who are planning trips to the US this weekend for their big "black friday" sales.

Re:Germany (1)

ballpoint (192660) | about 2 years ago | (#42061583)

Not to mention that Germans tend to ship with the quite cheap and reliable DPD or GLS whereas the Dutch ship through the more expensive PostNL and their scumbag affiliates that do the final delivery.

Re:Germany (4, Interesting)

TeslaBoy (1593823) | about 2 years ago | (#42057755)

True. This is all a little pointless in a free market zone as we in Holland can just order online from abroad, in the same currency, with nominal delivery fees. Amazon, for example, deliver from Germany for free on orders over 25 euro, which is pretty much any computer component or decent-sized order of blank media.

Re:Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42059367)

The Netherlands's customs and excise department doesn't make you pay the tax difference?

Re:Germany (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#42065257)

All EU countries (except the UK) operate an 'open-border' policy with other EU countries. The only thing that tells you you've crossed a border is a single road sign.

Re:Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42065585)

..and over the one land border that the UK has with another EU country, it has an open border.

Re:Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42065431)

Europe baby,

No borders, no customs involved.

Re:Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42065637)

the treaty of maastricht means there's 'free transfer of goods and people` within the EU, so no they can't add the VAX tax.

Music and Movie Industry has a broken model, so... (1)

dehole (1577363) | about 2 years ago | (#42057287)

Music and Movie Industry has a broken model, so everyone has to pay? How does that make sense?

If your product doesn't compete, it should fail. There is a rise of Indie music and movies which in many cases are better than the Main stream equivalent.

Re:Music and Movie Industry has a broken model, so (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057687)

They have a broken model, but is backed by their Politician/Law Maker teamsters with their broken laws.
The Media Corporations lobbies the corrupted Law Maker and the Law Markers make law favorable to the Media Corporations.

It is not like either parties are going down any time soon.

Re:Music and Movie Industry has a broken model, so (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057829)

Imagine if every industry ran this way:

Oil companies could crank up gas/petrol prices to hundreds of dollars per gallon, and then impose levies on bicycles and shoes when people opt for alternative travel methods.

Montsano and their ilk could sue every small farm operation out of existence, and force price increases on all trowels, potting soil and miracle grow

In any other field, this practice would be instantly laughed out of court, but somehow the entertainment industry is a sacred cow?

dont feel bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057297)

in canada the new copyright bill makes it illegal to download music then you go buy some blank cdrs and still pay a levy
its kinda like thieving X2 they screw ya in court with fines and jail then make ya pay for blanks regardless what you put on em
even if it was just a back up

Hmm, lets get this in place for everything ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057301)

So the same then apply to digital camera's and art galleries ?

Or all cars should be sold with some money for the banks as they could be used as part of a bank robbery ?

Or all guns should be sold with money going to victims of gun crime as they could be used for injuring people

Or all paper should be sold with money going to the government as it could be used for tax fraud...

Me thinks this list is endless

There is benefit for the consumer (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057313)

According to the article:

Presently, the Dutch see downloading and copying movies and music for personal use as “fair use” and not punishable by law.

I wouldn't mind paying an additional $2 for an MP3 player if it made all the ridiculous RIAA / MPAA lawsuits go away.

Re:There is benefit for the consumer (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#42058831)

Just to note, one begets the other, and not the other way around.

It's not that because you're paying the levy that you are allowed to download music/TV/movie works.

You are allowed to do so due to the interpretation of a law that said you could make copies for private use. That law didn't consider the source back then (era of tapes) and hasn't been updated to the realities of the modern world.

However, because people could make these copies for private use, a levy was instated to partially compensate the rights holders for copies that were made by e.g. recording off the radio, or copying a tape you borrowed from a friend, etc.

In Belgium it is the same (2)

SilenceBE (1439827) | about 2 years ago | (#42057399)

It is a ridiculous levy as you pay for your right to make home copies of the media you own. But really it is just a way to get money in the pockets of the entertainment industry that are the recipients of what is collected through these "Auvibel" taxes. Here in Belgium it was the works of Fientje Moerman [wikipedia.org] of the liberal party OpenVLD [wikipedia.org] that started this shenigans with their auvibel taxes. OpenVLD has a lot of ties with the entertainment industry or media in its whole.

You pay for example 50 eurocent of taxes on an empty DVD. But 99% of the DVD productions are protected by anti copying measures. It is is illegal by Belgian law to circumvent those measures so in reality you can't execute that right which you pay for and that goes into the pockets of the entertainment industry...

When they started those taxes justice went in high gear (as a victim of abuse I can tell you that for other cases they aren't that fast... ) and threatened every single shop (even in our neighboring countries for example as a Belgian it is impossible to order blank media in the UK, germany, ... ) or people selling blank media on ebay with lawsuits for tax evasion, etc.

In the end they totally destroyed the industry or sales of blank media in this country and a lot of people bought external hard drives that didn't had those taxes at the time. Now you pay on a HDD or usb stick larget then 1GB, 9 euro's / 11 dollars.

Oh... now you care (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057449)

Fucking hardware companys.. You've had the chance to speak up on this issue for a decade now.
And you did nothing. but now.... NOW its costing YOU some money. now you care... and now its way too late to do anything about it.

Just pay the tax you evil piracy enablers.

Then they came for the hardware vendors.
And i didn't care because i wasnt a hardware vendor and the vendors already said they didn't care when they came for me..

Think of the artists (2)

junkgoof (607894) | about 2 years ago | (#42057525)

And the levies go to the artists of course. A whole 0% of them. Yup, the artists are totally taken care of.

Re:Think of the artists (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 years ago | (#42057715)

Recording Industry: "We won't pocket a single penny of the levy money!"

*gets big sack of levy money*

*pulls out one penny*

Recording Industry: "This is the single penny we won't pocket." *tosses one penny to the artists to divide up*

Where do the levies go? Check the fin. reports. (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#42058135)

http://www.thuiskopie.nl/uploads/files/jaarverslag%202011.pdf [thuiskopie.nl]

In 2011 they collected (regular collection, minus a collection of historic funds) E6.740M, and listed as distributable E4.723M

Perhaps also of interest: E0.774M of their total funds goes to fighting piracy (through contribution to BREIN - see other post).

Now, whether that E4.723 actually ends up at the artists rather than the deeper pockets of record companies, is another matter entirely. But then the artists did sign over the rights to those record companies.

Another reason not to lose sleep over piracy (1)

big_e_1977 (2012512) | about 2 years ago | (#42057831)

Between the extra judicial punishment doled out via 3 or 6 strikes policies, draconian DRM schemes that trample fair use, government institutions being co-opted to enforce copyright under the guise of national security, John Doe lawsuits, secretly negotiated international treaties, SOPA, false DMCA takedowns, price fixing, perpetually extending copyright, vertical integration of ISPs, refusal to adapt to new technology, widespread use of accounting methods that never pay artists a dime and now these new taxes on hardware, I don't feel sorry for the entertainment industry and their mostly imagined losses due to piracy. If anything the media companies owe the citizens of the world reparations for the violations of their rights committed in the name of stopping piracy.

I've got an idea (2)

Progman3K (515744) | about 2 years ago | (#42057895)

Fuck these guys.

The media companies do NOT compensate artists with any of the money collected, so their principal reason for getting this money is invalid.

As for their lost profits, study after study proves that file-copying actually increases their sales.

Screw them, we need to get rid of these leeches.

Re:I've got an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058443)

How?

Wealth Redistribution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42057899)

Nothing to see here... Just another crazy wealth redistribution scheme.

home copying... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058025)

Note that what is described here as 'home-copying' (the law defines it along the lines of 'a copy made solely for own practice, study or use') here in The Netherlands includes downloading of both music and movies. But explicitly not software or sheet music.

However if you upload the same copyrighted works, it is against copyright law. But you can borrow someone's copy, then make a copy for your own personal use.
But using bittorrent for copyrighted works is a problem, because you generally upload as well.
However, I don't know of a single copyright case here against someone at home uploading a few songs or movies on bittorrent.

Same crap in Sweden as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058197)

The industry organisation that runs this scam in Sweden wants to extend it to mobiles phones and other devices. I hope they win this one in The Netherlands as it would encourage them to go after the copyright maffia in other countries as well.

It's a good trade... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058299)

If I'm paying taxes to the government, then I have the right to engage in the practice.

I don't think y'all get the gist. If the gubment collects the tax to compensate the artists, then they, their representatives and their agents no longer have anything to cry about, regardless of what I or anyone else does with the technology. Share, copy, duplicate and frollick at will!

Dancing in the streets ensues when everyone realizes that Holland has freed their people from the grips of the evil media companies by legitimizing the inevitable use of digital technology to duplicate and distribute tunes, movies and text.

The only thing left is intelligence, and for some reason that's harder to clone.

As a Dutch person... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42058355)

... Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Dell, and Imation, thank you!

Although, there goes my excuse for downloading stuff illegally without feeling bad about it :/

Silly taxation schemes (1)

odysseus_complex (79966) | about 2 years ago | (#42059111)

One of these days I want to get a bunch of my friends together and start printing our MP3s to see how long it will take all the various *IAAs around the world to start levying a tax on printer paper.

Who's with me?

Re:Silly taxation schemes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42060121)

Now are you talking about printing out lyrics or printing out an encoded mp3 file? One way would take 1 sheet of paper the other maybe a box.

Re:Silly taxation schemes (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#42060401)

I'm not so sure about that. A song is maybe 4 MB. According to this article [codinghorror.com] with proper storage mechanisms, you can store about 500,000 bytes on a single sheet of paper using a 600 dpi printer. And that's just using black and white. Add in support for multiple colors and you could probably easily encode most MP3 files on a page or two. Even without color, you could fit a 4 MB song on 8 pages. Not a single page, but hardly a box.

Can't have it both ways (1)

grumpy_old_grandpa (2634187) | about 2 years ago | (#42060255)

If they are going to put on a tax like that, then it has to be because copying and downloading for personal use is allowed. However, as far as I'm aware, Holland has been on the forefront in blocking PirateBay, and prosecuting downloaders (with a couple of U-turns, if I'm not mistaken).

It is of course not surprising that the music industry want to have their cake and eat it, however, that seems to be the logic argument the those tech companies should go for; choose only one: Media tax or no fair use.

about time (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42062373)

Now the fight isn't about consumers against the RIAA & MIAA, but other corporations are starting to feel the pinch of the bullshit that the RIAA and MIAA have been representing.

This is good, because sooner or later it will hopefully wake up everyone to that fact that the RIAA and MIAA need a new business model, one that doesn't involve suing consumers.

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