Sweden could get piracy fee on external storage devices

Industry and consumers up in arms

PIRACY, AN ISSUE that isn’t easy to resolve and that is currently causing a lot of commotion with the various governments in Europe at the moment, with some countries going as far as imposing bans on individual’s internet connections if they’re caught downloading illegal content. In Sweden an organization called Copyswede handles copy right licensing in most cases and they are suggesting a new “tax” that could be in affect from the 1st of April next year, for all kind of external storage devices.

Now this might sound like an April fools, but we can assure you that it’s not. The proposal goes something like this, Copyswede started taking out a “private copying fee” back in the days when the recordable tape was introduced and this was later transferred onto blank CDs and later DVDs, MP3 players and even devices such as set top boxes or DVD players with a built in hard drive. Now Copyswede wants this “private copying fee” to be extended to USB flash drives and external hard disk drives. The good news is that Copyswede has decided to charge reduced fees for these products, although the organization doesn’t actually explain what this means.

The fees are as follows, for devices with up to 80GB of storage space the consumers have to pay 15 cents per GB, for devices between 81 and 250GB the fee is set at $17.50 and for devices above 251GB the fee is set at $23.30. Oddly enough, this does not apply to internal hard drives, so for those with the knowhow, buying an internal hard drive and a suitable enclosure would save them a significant amount of money. On the other hand, ordering the same type of device from another country in Europe would also mean that these fees don’t apply.

The storage industry has been anything but positive to the new proposed fees from Copyswede and according to it24, Iomega’s manager of Sweden; Magnus Erlandsson voiced his concern about the market becoming skewed in favour for retailers with a warehouse outside of Sweden as well as for internal hard drives. Various resellers also complained out the new fee saying that it’s not a positive thing at all and it doesn’t favour anyone but Copyswede. The new fees will also potentially make things more expensive for distributors and resellers, at least the ones that sell their products outside of Sweden, as they’d need to set up more complex inventory systems to flag orders depending on which country they’re going to.

On top of that, many are sceptical to why just external storage devices are being targeted, since it’s just as easy these days to put pirated music or videos on an internal hard drive, a phone, a notebook or a tablet. As such, Copyswede isn’t being fair in the way they’re imposing their “private copying fee”. Copyswede claims that Sweden isn’t the only country imposing these fees and that Finland has already rolled out a similar scheme and that it’s in accordance with an EU directive. The excuse as to why only external storage devices are being affected is “because there’s no clear cut border” and “that everyone knows that external hard drives can be used to store other documents and this is something we’ve taken into account by reducing the fees”.

The fees are as yet not set in stone and an industry organization has called a meeting towards the end of January to discuss the new fees with Copyswede. Consumers are even more upset about the new fees and many are planning on buying extra storage before the new fees comes into effect. Despite the “private copying fee” consumers in Sweden will not be allowed to download illegal content, as this fee only permits private copies of already legally obtained content. The question is, why would you have to pay another fee for something you’ve already purchased in a legal way, just to store it on a different media? The fee is supposed to benefit the artists due to loss of income from pirated music and videos, but if downloading pirated content is illegal, then why is this fee being imposed in the first place?S|A

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