taxes on (potentially fostering piracy) CD burners

Lutz Horn lh at
Fri Jun 29 19:45:48 UTC 2001

Hi Stefano,

* Stefano Maffulli <stefano.maffulli at> [20010629 09:53 +0200]:
> [...]
> The Stuttgart district court ruled that Hewlett Packard would have to
> pay a fee on every CD burner it sells in Germany, arguing that the
> technology was being used to lift music off the internet in
> contravention of artists' copyright. 
> [...]
> Germany's powerful copyright lobby welcomed the judgement. 
> [...]
> In theory, GEMA would like to claim copyright fees from manufacturers
> of computer printers, high-speed modems and even hard drives. 

This comes as no surprise here in Germany. This fee is payed by the
manufacturers of empty audio or video tapes or audio or video recorders
since each of these technologies were available. The idea behind it is
that the author of some peace of art (a song, a film, etc.) has the
right to get some money for it. At the same time there is some kind of
"fair use" rule which allows the consumer to copy a CD or a video tape
for his own private use, even for his friends. The money the author
doesn't get for these copies is payed by the fee added to the price of
the recorder or the empty media. This arangement is considered legal
because there is not way to control what the consumer does with the CD
or video tape he bought and trying to control it would pose to great

What is way more dangerous than the court rule cited above is the
notion, that the arrangement I described above may become obsolete with
the advancement of digital rights management systems. If the producer of
the song _can_ control what the consumer does with it, how often he
plays it, on which device, etc., there is a way to let him pay for each
use. So there would no longer be the need to pay the author or musician
by adding a fee to CD burners or empty tapes.

I'm not sure which of the two scenarios is prefeable.

Lutz Horn <lh at>
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