EU could extend copyright levies to cloud services

A new law on copyright levies was passed by the EU Parliament

Controversial rules to maintain copyright levies on mobile devices, and potentially extend them to cloud services, were passed by the European Parliament Thursday.

Parliament voted 252 to 122, with 19 abstentions, to approve the new law, put forward by French Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Françoise Castex.

The current E.U. Copyright Directive allows for taxes placed on products that allow copying of copyright content such as printers or smartphones, that are then passed on to copyright holders. However, the new proposals envisage an updated list of leviable devices and services, potentially including cloud services. In a worst-case scenario, consumers could end up paying twice for transferring legally purchased content between their own accounts, say digital rights activists.

The copyright levies system is outdated and fundamentally flawed, said Digital Europe, a European association representing the digital technology industry, in a statement.

Against all logic, MEPs have voted for consumers to keep paying the hidden copyright tax when purchasing a smartphone, MP3 player, tablet, USB stick and other electronic devices, even if they never make private copies. Even worse, they have inexplicably supported provisions which call for an extension of copyright levies to cloud services such as legal streaming platforms. MEPs have taken a step backward and have signaled support for a system which harms EU consumers, said the organization.

However, the new law, although approved by the European Parliament, could face opposition from member states, particularly the U.K. and Ireland, which do not have copyright levies.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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Jennifer Baker

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