Magazine article Information Today

German Rights Society VG Wort and IT Manufacturers. (International Report: Munich, Germany)

Magazine article Information Today

German Rights Society VG Wort and IT Manufacturers. (International Report: Munich, Germany)

Article excerpt

The proposed introduction of a copyright levy on the sale of new computers in Germany has led to a bitter dispute between German rights society VG Wort and IT manufacturers--notably Germany's largest computer manufacturer Fujitsu Siemens Computers (Holding) BV and the German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications, and New Media (BITKOM).

In January 2001, worried about the steep rise of private copying in the digital environment, VG Wort proposed a copyright levy of $34 on each new computer and CD writer sold. Its aim was to compensate rightsholders for lost royalties from the private copying of music, images, and movies.

When the proposal was rejected out of hand by computer manufacturers, the German Patent and Trademark Office's arbitration court was asked to adjudicate. In January 2003, it recommended a compromise solution of $13.

This too has been rebuffed. The computer industry argues that indiscriminate levies are too blunt an instrument in the era of CD copy protection and digital rights management technologies. As Barbara Schaedler, head of marketing and communications at Fujitsu Siemens Computers, puts it, "Copyright levies are not state of the art in the Information Age. …

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