Fujitsu-Siemens to pay per-machine fee for piracy

German court orders company to pay US$16 per machine as part of a "tax on piracy."

Fujitsu-Siemens has been ordered by a German court to pay a levy every time one of its computers is sold in the country, as part of a "tax on piracy."

The judge ruled in December that because the company's PCs could be used for copying material--and denying rights holders their due royalties--Fujitsu-Siemens should make it up by way of a contribution of about US$16 (12 euros) per machine.

Similar levies are already in place on other media that can be used for copying, including blank videos and audio tapes, in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

The case was brought by VG Wort, a German copyright holders association, in 2001. The organization had been demanding a levy of about US$40, although it agreed to the court's revised penalty.

VG Wort is expected to bring similar suits against other computer manufacturers in the country.

Fujitsu-Siemens did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jo Best of reported from London.