The Private Copying Levy
The Swedish Copyright Act gives music, film and TV authors the exclusive right to determine the reproduction, or copying, of their work, and to make it available to the public in various ways. It is therefore an infringement of the author’s exclusive rights for anyone to make one or more copies for their own private use without the author’s permission. Such copying also reduces the authors’ income, as their work is being reproduced without them receiving payment.
Every year, private individuals record extensive amounts of music, films and TV programmes and private copying is only permitted within the EU in cases where the author is reimbursed for copying that takes place.
To compensate authors, performers and producers to some extent for the copying of copyright material for private use allowed under the law, a system of compensation is provided for in Article 26, subsections k-m of the Swedish Copyright Act. Similar systems to the one introduced in Sweden on 1 January 1999 exist in most other European countries.
The private copying levy is a form of reimbursement for the general public’s statutory right to copy music, film and TV for their own private use from an original lawful version. By law, the levy must be paid by the sector that imports, manufactures and sells products that can be used for private copying.
Private copying has during the years moved away from copying to cassettes, CDs and DVDs to for example computers, tablets, hard disc drives, video players and set-topboxes with built-in storage capacity.
Which products are covered? How are the levy rates determined?
The products covered by the private copying levy in accordance with the Copyright Act are products which can record sound and moving images and which are considered as being particularly suitable for private copying, e.g. computers with internal hard disk, tablets with internal memory, CD/DVD disks, mp3-players, USB sticks, external hard disks, internal hard disks and digital boxes with a built-in hard disk.
The Act specifies the levy rates, but also gives manufacturers and importers the opportunity to request a reduction in the rates on the grounds of certain circumstances specified in the Act. Such circumstances may for example be that the product is also used for purposes other than private copying, or the levy amount relative to the product price for consumers.
Are there any exceptions?
Yes. Manufacturers, importers or registered retailers (who has taken over the responsibility to report and pay the levy from an importer) who sells storage media to professional or organisations for the disabled are not required to pay the levy in these cases. The same applies in cases where the products are exported. This is because the levy must only be paid for sales of products that are to be used for private copying in Sweden. Private copying levies are not intended as a charge on companies, schools, authorities who use storage media for professional purposes.