Reasons for Vitorino’s recommendations on private copying and reprography levies: non-application of private copying levies to professional users

While, in principle, all products capable of making copies of copyright protected content can be levied, the private copying levies must not be imposed on goods that are acquired for purposes clearly unrelated to private copying. This approach requires a distinction between transactions where a good is sold to a private user and transactions where a good is sold to a non-private user. The latter transactions must, in principle, not be subject to a private copying levy.

Some stakeholders argue that manufacturers and importers usually do not sell to natural persons as private users, but rather to wholesalers. Therefore, they want them to be exempted ex ante from the payment of levies. They also stress that only the final retailer is in a position to assess whether equipment, media or devices will be used by a natural person for private purposes or not. A manufacturer or an importer, on the other hand, cannot carry out that assessment. At this level of trade, operators simply do not know who the final user will be.

It is preferable to have a system where the obligation to pay the levy is limited to entities that sell to a natural person as a private user. Persons and organisations who do not sell equipment or media to natural persons as private users should not bear the financial risk and the administrative effort of being reimbursed at a later stage. Private copying levies should simply not apply to such transactions. Consequently, neither manufacturing a product capable of copying nor importing such a product should in itself be deemed sufficient to trigger a private copying levy. Private copying levies should rather apply exclusively to purchases made by natural persons as private users. Distinguishing such users from other users should be relatively easy. Using a VAT-number for a purchase could, for example, be a strong indication that a product will not be used for private purposes. Purchases by legal persons can also be exempted easily.

Shift the liability to pay levies from the manufacturer’s or importer’s level to the retailer’s level while at the same time simplifying the levy tariff system; and oblige manufacturers and importers to inform collecting societies about their transactions concerning goods subject to a levy.