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Report: Germany plans 'Internet tax'

BERLIN (Reuters) -- Germany is planning to slap new levies on computer, telecommunications and Internet products to ensure that authors are properly rewarded for the use of their work, a newspaper said on Wednesday.

The Berliner Zeitung said proposals had been drafted requiring manufacturers of goods from computers to printers, modems, compact disc "burners" and other devices to pay royalty fees that would then be forwarded to music and film companies.

Officials at the Justice Ministry, which it said was behind the move, were not immediately available for comment.

The new tax would particularly intend to ensure that the authors of cultural products available on the Internet were properly rewarded.

Similar levies already exist in Germany on devices whose main function is that of copying, such as scanners, photocopiers and fax machines. Depending on the power of the machine involved, the taxes range from 75-600 marks ($30-$275).

The levies are paid by manufacturers to firms that specialize in collecting royalties on so-called "intellectual property." They then pass these fees on to clients such as authors, music, film or software companies.

Hardware companies say extending the taxes to computers and telecom equipment like modems could make them up to 30 percent more expensive.

Because the taxes are only payable when the products are bought in Germany, there have been warnings they could lead high-tech firms to flee the country and sell through mail order and other channels from abroad.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



RELATED STORIES:
German artists, authors want PC makers to pay up
July 14, 2000
Hearing spotlights clash between open source and copyright protection
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'State of the Internet' report urges light touch on regulation
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August 10, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Bundesministerium der Justiz
Berliner Zeitung


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