Apple has to pay out €5 million (US$6.5 million) in home copying levies that it's collected but failed to deliver to the appropriate agency, the Paris High Court ruled on Friday.
Apple and other companies that sell tablet computers must by law pay a home copying levy to Copie France. In 2011, the tariffs were between €5.60 for a tablet with a 8GB hard disk and €12 for tablets with a 64GB hard disk and higher, said Charles-Henri Lonjon, general manager of Copie France, an agency that collects copyright levies for the music, film, visual arts and writing industries, on Monday.
While Apple collected the levies from iPads sold to consumers, it did not pay those levies to Copie France, he said. Instead, Apple put the collected money in a separate account and started numerous proceedings and court cases to contest the imposed levies, Lonjon said.
Copie France then started a counter procedure to get Apple to pay the levies, he said. On Friday, the Paris High Court ruled that Apple should pay €5 million to Copie France, €2.2 million less than the €7.2 million the agency demanded. The amount that should be paid is provisional, so it could change later in the proceedings, Lonjon said.
The Paris High Court is a court of the first instance, which means that the case could be appealed, Lonjon said.
The amount can also change when the French administrative court decides if the imposed levies are legal, Lonjon said. A case over the legality of these levies is currently pending there.
"After the administrative court decision we hope to recover the rest of the €7.2 million," Lonjon said. Copie France was optimistic about its chances because the high court's ruling in principle proved that collecting these levies was legal, he added.
Apple spokesman Alan Hely on Monday declined to comment on the matter.
Apple has two months to decide if it will appeal the case, according to Lonjon.
The amount of the home copying levies have risen in France since 2011. At the moment, the tariffs are between €6.40 for an 8GB tablet and €12.60 for 64GB and higher, Lonjon said.
The levies on devices vary between European countries. As of January 2013, for instance, similar levies were introduced in the Netherlands. Dutch buyers of smartphones, tablets and MP3 players have to pay a maximum €5 per device.
Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org