Companies who make blank CDs and other recordable media are demanding the European Commission acts to ensure a harmonious market for their products.

Members of the Recording-Media Industry Association of Europe (RIAE) are asking for action to help protect them against grey market sales.

They are concerned at the levies applied to sales of their products in most European territories. Such levies are applied by individual member states. They are collected to be passed on to copyright holders to compensate for lost sales.

22 levies complicate market

"The definition of "fair compensation" within the Copyright Directive has been ignored and by-passed by member states and collecting societies," thunders the association.

This has meant that 22 different levies are applied across the European market, causing a deluge of grey market (untaxed) imports, they claim.

Disparities between levies imposed in neighbouring Member States can be as much as 900 per cent.

"We are asking the Commission to publish guidelines on how the Copyright Directive was intended to operate with respect to copyright levies," RIAE President Joe Gote said.

Play fair

In 2004, approximately 17 per cent of all blank optical media sales (or 600 million blank optical media discs) were sold in the EU without the legally applicable copyright levy being paid.

"This represents a major threat to the EU internal market. Manufacturers and resellers operating in the legitimate market are increasingly forced out of business and European competitiveness is weakened," added Mr. Gote.

RIAE members include: FUJI Magnetic Imation, JVC, Maxell, Memorex, Philips Recording Media, Pioneer Europe, Ricoh, Sony, TDK and Verbatim.