Poland's 'piracy tax' should be expanded to phones and tablets too, say authors

Poland's 'piracy tax' should be expanded to phones and tablets too, say authors

Summary: The Polish levy paid on blank storage media to compensate rightsholders for piracy should be added to even more hardware, according to the country's composers and writers.

TOPICS: Piracy, EU

The Netherlands is one of several countries that collect a levy on sales of blank storage media and use the money raised to compensate rightsholders for copyright infringement.

When the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the practice — known as the 'piracy tax' — was flawed earlier this year, it was expected that the system would begin to be dismantled across the continent. It seems the opposite could be the case.

While the ECJ seemed to have given a pretty clear signal on the subject of copyright compensation levies, Polish authors' trade body ZAiKS has been lobbying to broaden the 'piracy tax' system in place in the country.

Currently, the Polish system of compensating copyright owners leans a lot on charging an extra fee on blank media — including CDs and DVDs, USB keys, hard drives, and copying equipment such as CD burners. But according to ZAiKS (the Polish Society of Authors and Composers), the system is in need of a revamp.

ZAiKS and other organisations "require, among other things, the list of chargeable media to include smartphones and tablets, and the removal of for example video cassette recorders", Anna Biernacka, head of the ZAiKS organisational team, told ZDNet.

"The proposal is being put forward because of changes in technology, which has resulted in certain technology that is no longer sold [being part of the levy system] while newer technology that is very popular does not feature on the list."

According to the proposal, some devices such as TVs, digital cameras, and devices with a recording function would be subject to a one percent levy, while devices such as laptops and smartphones would be charged an additional two percent.

ZAiKS' lobbying efforts might come across as a little surprising given recent events, including the ECJ's decision to reject the Dutch levy system back in April. Not only that but, like the Netherlands, Poland's legal system doesn't prohibit downloading material from copyright-infringing sources.

That combination, the ECJ ruled, is unacceptable. A Polish copyright expert told Central European Processing that it was only a matter of time before the law in Poland would have to adapt.

In the Polish common vernacular, the levy is commonly referred to as the 'piracy tax', highlighting the similarities with the former Dutch system. However, Biernacka disagrees with that, writing that the wording in Polish law excludes the use of the levy as compensation for piracy.

"Polish law stipulates 'the payment for blank media' as a compensation for legal copying of copyrighted works," she said. "In no way is it a payment for 'piracy', and it does not legalise 'piracy'."

Read more on this story

Topics: Piracy, EU

Michiel van Blommestein

About Michiel van Blommestein

Michiel van Blommestein is a Dutch journalist who has been living in Poland since 2010. He worked as a technology journalist in the Netherlands before moving to Poland to work as a regular correspondent for various news outlets. He still loves the bits and bytes though.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • blank piracy media robbery tax

    blank piracy media robbery tax
    so we don't need to buy music and movies, great! Just download it!
    I bet when this comes to some court these blank media tax robbery would be cancelled immediately.
    Why to pay twice?
    I will never pay for music/video despite a spend a lot of money for apps.
    Jiří Pavelec
  • lazy rightsholders

    lazy rights holders always want someone to collect money and pay them. it's their job to protect their property and with the reputation they have accrued to themselves over the years no one should help them.
  • If you're going to tax me

    To cover piracy, then I have no moral problem with downloading off torrents, because it is no longer piracy. I have already paid for the material.
  • Legal piracy in fascistic EU

    Well, we have a joke here - A: Why should I pay those "copy taxes" when buying CD/DVD burner?! You don't know what I am going to burn on my CDs. B: You have to pay, because you have a capable instrument. A: Hmm?! OK, arrest me right now for raping. B: You did that?! A: No, but I have a capable instrument.
    • Assumption of guilt

      Over the assumption of innocence. Definitely an alien concept to those of us from the English speaking world.

      If ZAiKS is so powerful why don't they get a law passed that makes it illegal to download/copy/acquire copyrighted material without paying for it? Wouldn't that give them the power to shut down piracy websites and sue for damages the people who are actually engaging in Piracy?
      • Ass-umption

        "Assumption of guilt over the assumption of innocence. Definitely an alien concept to those of us from the English speaking world." Well, I am sorry, but this ain't true. Those law-excrements are based on things coming from English speaking world (I mean holy glory fantastic USA, mainly).
        Thanks God, it is not possible to sanction somebody for downloading CR material (but those eisantzgruppen like ZAiKS are trying it). Imagine that you don't even have to know that you are downloading CR material, but you could be prosecuted for that. That's not gonna happen, for now.
        And to be clear about downloading CR material: If you like it, buy it.