Digital canon

The digital fee or by private copy is the fee imposed when acquiring an electronic medium capable of producing, storing or reproducing content  for possible copies that can be made in the private sphere.

That is, the digital fee is the extra paid when you buy a computer, tablet, CD, USB or any other type of electronic device that can reproduce works, for the management of the copyright of a work in digital format.

The digital fee arises to compensate for the possible losses of the authors of works that are disseminated in digital support by the private copies that can be made of them and for which they cease to obtain benefits by not being made through direct sale. That is, content creators earn every time an electronic device is sold, such as a CD, DVD, smartphone, ebook, hard disk, printer, USB, Tablet, computer, etc., according to the intellectual property law , all creators of contents have the right to charge for each reproduction made of their work.

However, times are changing and especially in the technological field. Over the years, people stopped recording a cassette, a VHS or even a CD or DVD and have been replaced by cloud content or online playback. Therefore, legislation must also adapt to these new circumstances.

Operation of the digital canon

The copyright management entities, such as in Spain there is the SGAE or AGEDI, are the ones who collect this tax and who decide the possible exceptions and refunds of the same if any. The collection will go to the authors of the works exploited by the aforementioned means that have been taxed.

The tax falls on manufacturers and commercial distributors, who are the ones who must pay the digital fee, but this ends up having an impact on the pocket of the final consumer. Or, they will camouflage you by inflating the prices of the products or, by breaking down and indicating on your ticket or invoice an extra for the digital fee.

There are laws that include exemptions, such as the Spanish one, where neither final consumer companies nor public administrations should pay this tax.

Therefore, companies that justify the exclusively professional destination of the acquired devices, may request the return of the digital fee to the managing institutions of the same.

The amount of the digital fee varies from one jurisdiction to another. There are three ways to collect the tax:

  • Fixed rate. There are countries where a fixed rate is established for each device sold, as is the case in Eastern European countries. This fixed price is determined by the number of copies that the purchased product can provide throughout its useful life. For example, a CD will have a fee much lower than that of a computer or printer. On average, a CD or DVD is taxed between € 0.14 and € 0.30, € 4.3 a smartphone or Tablet and € 5.5 and € 8 a computer or hard drive.
  • Variable Rate Others prefer to apply a percentage to the price of each product affected by this tax, as is the case in the US. Rates vary from 0.8% applied by Ukrania to 8% applied by Estonia.
  • Combination of rate with fixed and variable part. Or the combination of both, as in the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania.

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