Technology companies are attempting to force European governments to withdraw certain levies applied on behalf of copyright holders in the region.

Such levies are applied in Germany against iPod, CD-burner, CD and DVD media purchases. That country imposed Europe's first levy on tape recorders in 1965; today, almost :"every European country has set up its own web of levies and quasi-public agencies to reimburse artists, writers and musicians for the duplication" of their work, reports the International Herald Tribune today.

In Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain last year consumers paid €542 million in levies, the report claims. These fees are distributed to artists based on sales.

Technology versus creative rights

However, armed with new digital rights management technologies, manufacturers are lobbying to have such creative protections removed from the statute books.

Copyright levy collection agencies meanwhile are pushing to apply fees against technology purchases. Spain, for example, is currently considering the application if a £100 fee on each MP3 player sold there.

Tilman Lueder, acting head of the copyright unit in the European Commission said the EU plans to complete a report "measuring the economic impact of the collection agencies this month and may propose regulation in autumn", the report said, describing "inefficiencies" in the existing system.

GEMA spokesman Hans-Herwig Geyer believes the effectiveness of DRM technologies remains to be proved, saying: "It is very utopian to think there would be a fair market without some kind of control," Geyer said.

"The system hangs on the fact that the musician gets fair compensation. We see no alternative to the system as it exists."