Hewlett-Packard has been ordered by a German court to reveal how many CD-R and CD-RW drives it has sold in the country during the last three and a half years.
The order is the latest chapter in story going back almost as long. Sued by the music makers and publishers as an exemplar CD-R drive maker, HP was forced in February 1998 to pay a fixed fee to cover past sales of CD burners. The company agreed to a future per-unit levy on drives sold after the first of that month.
The case centred on the use of CD recording equipment to duplicate music CDs. Germany levies a per-unit fee on other types of recording equipment, and the music industry wanted computer-based drives to be included too.
However, HP has clearly since decided it doesn't want to pay up. It was sued again in June this year after negotiations to set the levy broke down.
So we're back where we started, and HP has to once again say how many drives it has shipped during a given period of time, from which how much it owes to musicians and their publishers can be calculated. ®