Top EU court says printers can be taxed to compensate rights holders

Canon, Epson, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Kyocera and Xerox may have to hand over information on printers sold since 2001

Europe's top court ruled Thursday that it is legal for countries to impose a levy on printer manufacturers in order to compensate rights holders for unauthorized reproduction of their work.

Under European Union law, authors and other rights holders have the exclusive right to authorize or prohibit reproduction of their protected works, but individual member states may provide exceptions or limitations to those rights.

In many cases, making private copies, including reproductions on paper, of works by rights holders is permitted. However if national authorities decide to permit exceptions they must ensure that copyright holders receive "fair compensation." This grants E.U. member states broad discretion in determining how to impose levies.

The European Court of Justice made its ruling after it was asked by the Federal Court of Justice in Germany to examine a case brought by VG Wort, the authorized copyright-collecting society representing authors and publishers of literary works in Germany.

VG Wort had requested that authorities order Canon, Epson, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Kyocera and Xerox to provide information on the nature and quantity of printers that they have sold since 2001. In addition, VG Wort claims that Kyocera, Epson and Xerox should pay it remuneration by way of a levy on personal computers, printers and plotters marketed in Germany between 2001 and 2007.

The court said it is open to Germany implementing a system in which owners of any printer, including multifunction devices, contribute to compensating authors for harm suffered by reproduction of their protected works. This means a levy on printer makers, the cost of which the manufacturers can pass on to customers.

The court does however limit the amount that can be levied. "The overall amount of fair compensation must not be substantially different from the fixed amount owed for the reproduction obtained through the use of one single device," the ruling said.

The court also said that even if rights holders don't take any measures to prevent copying of their work, such as using the EURion Constellation (a pattern of dots that will cause modern colour copiers to lock up when they detect it), they are still entitled to fair compensation, since the use of such measures is voluntary.

However, E.U. countries may take into account whether such measures were used when determining the rights holders' compensation in order to encourage their use.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuesXeroxconsumer electronicsCanonlegalFujitsuEpsonHewlett-Packardkyocera

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?