Swedish memory devices face possible price hike

Hard drives and USB sticks sold in Sweden may face a significant price hike later this year, but an industry organisation claims the fees are against the law.

Swedish memory devices face possible price hike

Attempts by rights organisation Copyswede to negotiate an agreement on the charges with the digital storage device industry have been unsuccessful.

In the end, Copyswede unilaterally announced last month that the charges would apply starting on April 1st despite the industry’s protests.

“We have been discussing these for about a year with the industry. They have been reluctant to negotiate with us. They are obliged to pay the fees. We claim remuneration from the companies directly on recordable CDs, DVDs and MP3 players,” Copyswede CEO Mattias Åkerlind told The Local on Monday.

“We haven’t had any counterpart to carry out negotiations with. This is our way of approaching the companies. Our hope is the companies will sit down and negotiate in the next couple of weeks,” he added.

According to Åkerlind, consumers are moving away from copying material onto CDs and DVDs and now use digital storage devices such as hard drives and USB sticks. Copyswede collects all fees on behalf of the rights owners belonging to 14 organisations.

The new fees would make an external hard drive of 250 gigabytes of 160 kronor ($23) more expensive.

“Under Swedish law, the fee is only payable on products that are especially devoted to copying. In addition, the products cannot be widely used for anything else. We believe that it is illegal to impose such a fee,” said Anders Appelqvist, CEO of Elektronikbranschen.

The organisation brings together retailers such as large electronics chains and manufacturers of electronic products.

Industry players will meet later this month to discuss Copyswede’s demands.

However, Appelqvist believes that since external hard drives and USB sticks are largely used for private files such as personal photos, there are no grounds for the additional surcharges.

Åkerlind would not say whether the organization was prepared to take electronic companies that do not pay the fees to court, nor if the organisation is prepared to alter the fees or implementation date.

“Our tradition is to negotiate with the industry and copying on these products is covered by the law. However, the industry says they do not want to negotiate and it takes two to tango,” said Åkerlind.

“If we end up in real negotiations, the conditions may be different from what we agree upon. We have indications that the industry is ready to negotiate,” he added.

According to a statement last month, Copyswede is asking for 1 kronor per gigabyte for digital storage devices of less than 80 gigabytes, 120 kr for storage devices of 81 to 250 gigabytes.

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