Call to scrap levies on European music downloads

"A superfluous double tax on consumers," says BSA...

"A superfluous double tax on consumers," says BSA...

European consumers are being forced to pay usage rights on legal copy-protected music downloads multiple times because of outdated private copy levies, according to anti-piracy group the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The BSA has issued a report calling for the scrapping of these levies to coincide with a meeting of the European American Business Council in Brussels.

The BSA argues that the rise in online content protected by digital rights management (DRM) technology makes the need for private copy levies obsolete. These levies were originally designed as a tax on people making private copies of tapes and CDs they had bought.

But online content is increasingly DRM-protected and this DRM-protected online content market is expected to rise from €235m last year to around €1.86bn in 2008. Under DRM things such as music downloads carry a royalty at the point of purchase.

Francisco Mingorance, director of public policy in Europe for the BSA, said in a statement: "With DRM technology's expanding role in the market, levies have become a superfluous double tax on consumers. Levies were designed to compensate for un-policeable private copying. But with DRMs the rationale for levies disappears."

These levies don't apply to the UK but the rest of Europe is also forced to pay for usage rights through taxes imposed on their PC and music playing equipment.

Mingorance said: "Lawmakers cannot ignore that private copy levies are increasingly obsolete in the digital age.

"Governments have an opportunity to bring real consumer benefits by applying the European Copyright Directive rules and phasing out the outdated levies system."