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Germany Urged to Cut Copyright Fees on Electronics

Electronics makers on Wednesday urged Germany to press ahead with cutting copyright fees levied on consumer devices such as computers, printers and scanners.

The alliance, including the German branches of Dell, Epson, Hewlett Packard and other industry heavyweights, launched a "Teuerland" campaign -- a play on the German word "teuer" or expensive -- to urge the country to push through new rules that would cut fees paid to artists' groups.

They say German shoppers have to pay more than people in neighboring countries for consumer electronics, encouraging them to buy abroad.

According to one tech industry group, the Copyright Levies Reform Alliance, the levies could add $190 to the cost of setting up a home office in Germany.

Under Germany's complex current system, copyright fees are levied on devices ranging from PCs to CD and DVD recorders to compensate artists and copyright holders for legal copying.

Legislation proposed by the government would cap copyright charges at a maximum of 5 percent of a product's average street value, but it has yet to gain parliamentary approval. It also would limit the number of products that face a levy.

Artists rights' groups say the charges are small in comparison to overall costs and help fund new works. But manufacturers claim that the new technology that adds data storage to everyday items such as mobile phones could see copyright levies rise unfairly across the board.

"The draft law is, for the industry, a bearable compromise that goes in the right direction," Epson Deutschland manager Henning Ohlsson said in a statement.

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