Handbook on the Digital Creative Economy
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Handbook on the Digital Creative Economy

Edited by Ruth Towse and Christian Handke

Digital technologies have transformed the way many creative works are generated, disseminated and used. They have made cultural products more accessible, challenged established business models and the copyright system, and blurred the boundary between producers and consumers. This unique resource presents an up-to-date overview of academic research on the impact of digitization in the creative sector of the economy.
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Chapter 21: Copyright levies

Joost Poort


Copyright levies on recording equipment or blank media exist in many countries to compensate copyright holders for the effects of private copying. In 1965, Germany was the first country to introduce a private copying levy on sound and video recording equipment, following two decisions by the German Federal Supreme Court. The German collecting society GEMA had ëasked the Supreme Court to order that producers of recording equipment be obligated, upon delivery of such recording equipment to wholesalers or retailers, to request from the latter that they communicate the identity of the purchasers to the GEMAí (Hugenholtz et al., 2003: 11). The court ruled that this would be a violation of privacy in conflict with the German Constitution. Subsequently, a levy was introduced to compensate copyright holders for the supposedly detrimental effects of copyright infringement using tape recorders. In the ensuing decades, many countries followed suit and levies were introduced on a variety of recording or copying devices and blank media. At the present time, most countries within the European Union have copyright levies, as well as the United States, Canada, Russia and several countries in Latin America and Africa. In Asia, Japan is the only country with copyright levies (WIPO, 2012: 3).

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