I hope German consumers got their iPad last year, because Apple raised the prices in Germany for its iDevices on Friday.
The gadget maker told the AP today that it had increased the prices to cover the cost of newly assessed private copyright levy. According to Bitkom, the new levy, or more correctly the new tax, adds between five and six euros to the price of smartphones sold in Germany, and between seven and nine euros to the price of a tablet like the iPad.
The private copyright levy is a tax charged to consumers when they buy media and electronics capable of making copies. The idea was pioneered in Germany in 1965, and has since spread to most of Europe, Canada, and other parts of the world. It originally applied to cassette tapes, but has since been expanded to include external hard disks, storage media like flash drives, CD-Rs, computers (in Germany, at least), and now mobile devices.
The amount collected, and the devices affected, vary from one country to the next. Spain, for example, repealed its private copying levy in 2012, only to decide to pay the tax out of its own coffers. Finland followed suit this year, and the UK does not collect a levy. The French private copying levy, on the other hand, raised €208 million in 2013, and represents almost 60% of the total collected in the European Union.
Also known as the "you must be a pirate" tax, in many countries the private copyright levy is paid to collection societies with the ostensible goal of compensating creators for the
piracy copying that is assumed to be going on.
However, due to the archaic nature of the tax, in many places it is still intended to compensate music and film creators, and not book authors (probably because books were so late to go digital). Also, since the fees are sent to collection societies like Gema, there's serious question as to whether creators actually benefit from the tax.
The many inconsistencies, as well as the dubious benefits, has emboldened some to push for the European Union to junk the private copying levy, or at least harmonize it across the EU.
That is still a work in progress, however.