Authors: Eugenija Gainutdinova, METIDA representative in Latvia, Mykolas Jakutis, METIDA Attorney-at-law assistant, Inga Lukauskiene, an Associated Partner, an Attorney-at-Law and a Patent Attorney in METIDA
For the past few years, copyright levies has been a topical issue in the Baltic States. A number of new amendments on acts regarding the issue have been made and therefore, according to the new rules, additional taxes to the initial price have been added. The latest changes have made in Latvia and Lithuania.
On October 22, 2012 the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia accepted amendments in the rules on “Amount of the levy for use of blank tape and equipment and materials for reproduction, rules of collection, repayment, distribution and payment of said levy”. These amendments were made in accordance with decision of Constitutional court of the Republic of Latvia of May 02, 2012, by which the Cabinet of Ministers was obliged to improve the list of the blank tapes and equipment before the November 1, 2012, to provide protection of copyright in respect of rights of the authors to receive the levy for use of actual kind of blank tapes.
Now rules include list of following kind of blank tapes: all kind of CD, DVD and USB flash memory, all kind of personal computers, including laptops and tablet computers. This is to emphasize that this list of blank tapes is one of the shortest lists in Europe and does not include such frequently used devices as mobile/smart phones and hard disks. However, the Latvian authors’ society AKKA /LAA hopes that this list will be improved and completed in the nearest future.
As for Lithuania, the Parliament adopted the overhaul of the levy system, along with other important amendments in the copyright law on December 21, 2011.
From October 1, 2007 until this year, Lithuanian copyright levies regime only covered blank tapes, CDs and DVDs. No equipment had been levied in Lithuania up until then. However, the December 21, 2011 law has extended the levies very significantly. Thus, since then, levies have been covering all media (tape, CD, DVD, Blue Ray, USB media, flash memory cards), reintroducing levies on HDDs, as well as introducing levies on all equipment, which have internal memory and playback-recording functions (media players, jukeboxes, MP3 players, TVs with recording function, tablets, etc.). Since March 1, 2012 levies have also been covering mobile phones and computers as a separate object.
The tariffs for the new levies are complex. For example, for disc media, they are flat 6% of the wholesale price; for mobile phones, jukeboxes media players, TVs with recording function, there are fixed amounts from 0.4 EUR to 12 EUR on the wholesale price; for tablets and PCs, the flat rate of 6 EUR on the wholesale price is imposed regardless of internal memory capacity; for USB media, flash memory cards equipment, they are fixed amounts from 0.3 EUR to 8 EUR on the wholesale price. Differentiation is based on the memory capacity. For copiers and multifunction devices, they are percentages from 0,6% to 3% (higher for color equipment) on the wholesale price.
It seems that in Lithuania the dilemma on copy levy tariffs has been finished. Yet, it is still unsure, how it will end in Latvia.