Apple ordered to pay €12m for 'fair use' iPad tax in France

A Paris court has ruled that Apple must hand over millions of euros in compensation to rights holders.

A French court has ruled that Apple must hand over €12m to compensate rights-holders in the country.

Apple's devices, like all hardware that can be used to store and copy "cultural works", are subject to a fair use tax in France, known as copie privée. The levy is charged on each device sold, and is used to compensate rights holders for private copies of their music, films and so on, that are made on the devices. The amount of tax is charged depending on the storage capacity of the hardware.

According to PC Inpact, last week Paris' Tribunal de Grand Instance ruled that Apple owes €12m in fair use tax for the period covering March to December last year.

 Apple may, however, owe up to €30m in total, PC Inpact said.

The company has filed a case disputing the size of the levy on tablets, hoping to get France's Council of State to cancel the tax altogether. The size of the levy was meant to be set temporarily — from January to December 2011 — while rights holders group Copie France conducted a study into tablet use ahead of determining new rates for the tax.

The Council of State's ruling on the matter — at what rates, if at all, the tax should be set — is still pending.

The €12m will be placed in escrow and handed over to rights holders if the rates are approved by the Council of State.

Apple has already opposed the tax once this year, challenging the amount it was supposed to pay for each iPad sold in France ahead of the new tax levels being set. There, too, the court found against the company, ruling it should pay €5m to Copie France for iPad sales during 2011.

ZDNet has asked Copie France and Apple for comment on the ruling and will update the story if any is received.

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