[pp.int.general] levies

Reinier Bakels r.bakels at planet.nl
Mon Mar 24 09:50:49 CET 2008

Copyright levies are becoming a problem: http://www.twobirds.com/english/publications/articles/Copyright_levies_Europe.cfm?back
The EU thinks of harmonising levies and has a consultation: http://www.twobirds.com/english/publications/articles/Copyright_levies_Europe.cfm?back

Some people, even in information activists circles such as ours, believe that levies are the lesser evil and should be accepted now that DRM has proven infeasible.

A major problem with levies is the fundamental impossibility to have a just basis for tariffs. Usually the tariff is per unit of storage (byte), but the relationship between value of the work and the amount of storage needed is very indirect. A PDF file is much larger than an ASCII file with the same text, even if the author effort is exactly the same. And as the price per byte of storage media decreases all the time due to the development of technology, the levy portion increases. 2/3 of the price of a blank DVD is levies, and it will perhaps be 90% o the next generation DVD. This favours illegal trade. Finally, the distribution of the levies collected is a major problem. It is expensive (high "transaction cost"), and how should thise levies be distributed? One of the purposes of copyright is to foster culture, but levy systems usually only look at numbers, so that rich popular artists are favoured and become even richer. Cuktural values may differ from economic values.

Sometimes I believe that a "Verelendung" strategy (an old Marxist concept) may be helpful: advocate a levy on blank paper! An claim a portion of copyright levies for the text contributed to mailing lists, such as this one!

And on a more serious level: the basis copyright premise that ALL copies are entitled for a copyright (even if I make a copy of my own *LEGAL* CD onto my MP3 player!) should be questioned. It is ridiculous in the digital age.       

Groeten, Grüße, Regards, Cordialement, Hälsningar, Ciao, Saygilar, Üdvözlettel, Pozdrowienia, Kumusta, Adios, Oan't sjen, Ave, Doei, Yassou, Yoroshiku
private: Johan Willem Frisostraat 149, 2713 CC Zoetermeer, The Netherlands telephone: +31 79 316 3126, GSM ("Handy") +31 6 4988 6490,  fax +31 79 316 7221
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