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Spain adds levy to blank discs

Taxes goods 'likely to be used to copy'

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The Spanish government will add a levy to blank media such as CDs and DVDs to hand over to copyright holders to compensate for the duplication of copyrighted materials.

The move follows the lead of most European countries, which charge a levy on goods likely to be used to copy music or films or other copyrighted works. Though the UK bans all copying, most European countries permit copying for personal use and use the levy as a way to reimburse copyright holders.

Last week, the Spanish Congress voted to place a tax on blank CDs, DVDs and even flash memory sticks, according to Spanish news site Typicallyspanish.com. The move came as part of an overall reform of intellectual property reforms, the site said.

In recognition that many of the products levied will be used for other purposes, the levy is usually extremely small, and it has not commonly spread to items such as hard disks or internet connections, which are commonly used to pirate copyrighted material.

The European Commission warned earlier this month that a spread of such levies into digital goods and services could damage consumers and provoke resentment. The warning came in a consultation document issued by the commission as part of an attempt to change the levies to suit the digital world.

"[In the digital media world] it would no longer be possible to hold only liable the manufacturers or importers of equipment and media," the commission's consultation document said. "The logic of levies would also have to be applied to broadband and infrastructure service providers including telecommunications providers that carry content.

"If this were to happen, levies would proliferate and there would be a serious risk of a backlash against the rights holder community and consumer welfare," it said.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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