What are Copyright Levies ?

A 'copyright levy' is a form of indirect remuneration, similar to a tax, to compensate for the harm caused to authors, artists and right holders by legal private copying.

Remuneration by means of levies is indirect as copyright levies are not directly imposed on those that carry out acts of private copying, namely the consumers. Instead the copyright levy is applied to the equipment or media that consumers use. Those Member States that provide for copyright levies impose them on manufacturers, importers or distributors of equipment or media that allows consumers to copy. This levy is then included in the final purchase price of an IT equipment paid by the consumer.

Copyright levies are often and wrongly associated with piracy. The sole purpose of copyright levies is the compensation for the harm caused by legal copying for private use.

Levies are often referred to as "rough justiceā€ because consumers pay regardless of how they use their equipment, and the compensation received by right holders is not in any way correlated to actual private use.

These copyright levies are collected by the so called 'collecting societies' that are meant to redistribute them to authors ('right holders'). Depending on the type of levies they collect, there are collecting societies dealing exclusively either with levies from reprography or from the music industry. There is a collecting society for reprography in every Member State that provides for copyright levies. For instance, in Germany the collecting society for reprography is VG Wort.