Three years after stomping out, big tech manufacturers have returned to talk to the French government about private copying levies.
In France, an official working group, La Commission de la Copie Privée, sets the rules on which products will have copying levies slapped on them. Manufacturers and importers also had seats at the table – presumably arguing against levies on their own products – but walked out in protest in late 2012 over "repeated abuses" and a succession of "decisions leading to continuously increasing prices of electronic devices for consumers."
Levies are tariffs imposed by national authorities on goods typically used for copying, such as blank media, recording equipment, and scanners. The money collected is used to compensate rights holders that lose earnings when copies are made without their authorization. But French consumers already pay much more than their neighbors... in some cases seven times as much.
It appears that the manufacturers – which include Apple, Ericsson, Sony, Nokia, LG, Dell, Intel, Lenovo, Acer, Brother, HP, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba and Xerox – feel there is more to be gained by being back on the inside.
In an official statement, Digital Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and Fleur Pellerin, Communications Minister welcomed five professional organizations, AFNUM, FEVAD, SECIMAVI, SFIB, and FFT – who count all the companies listed among their members – back into the fold.
The ministerial pair said it was a positive sign and that the "goodwill of all stakeholders" will allow the commission to move forward with its work. Each of the organizations has a vote on decisions – AFNUM, the Alliance Française des Industries du Numérique, has two due to its size – but are not always unanimous in their opinions. FEVAD represents e-commerce and distance selling, FTT is the French Federation of Telecoms, SECIMAVI is the union of consumer electronics, and SFIB speaks for the IT industry. Nonetheless, for most of the groups involved, expecting them to approve increased levies is like expecting turkeys to vote for Christmas. ®