Yenya's World

Mon, 14 Jul 2008

Lawful Ransom

My almost five years old compactflash microdrive in my camera has finally died, so I have decided to buy a new CF card. To my great surprise, about 10 % of the total price is the "authors fee". Which is law-imposed tax (a ransom, in fact) for supposed loss on authors' fees caused by distributing copyrighted work using this CF card. WTF?

Does it mean that having paid this ransom I can now legally use this CF card to transfer copyrighted work, as I have already paid the authors' fee? Or is there a way of getting this money back, provided that the card will be solely used in my camera, i.e. to store and transfer my own author's work? According to the Czech law, these fees are collected by a mafiaa-like organization named OSA, which then distributes it to their members (after subtracting their operating expenses, of course).

But in order to become a member of OSA, there is a minimum amount of author's earnings per year, which is quite high. Well, I really don't need to have a share on the total ransom collected by OSA, I just want back the money I have paid to them myself when buying this CF card. How can I do this, my dear lazyweb? A related question: is this ransom collected even for CF cards in embedded systems (think medical computers and other systems, where is no way they can ever be used for tranfering random files)?

Section: /world (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 6 writebacks

6 replies for this story:


Actually, this is quite funny story. The fee was originally set that way, that it was told how much you have to pay for 1MB (on flash media), it is not some percentage of the price. This was long time ago, when 64MB flash cost about 500CZK, and the fee was about a few CZK - nothing worh of writing a blogspot or newspaper article. But the times changed and now you have 2GB falsh for 500CZK and the author fee for 1MB is still the same. (!) It was definitelly some sabotage of the law done by authors lobby. The best you can do is contact your senator.

Vasek Stodulka wrote:

^that was me. :-)

wrote: Yenya

Well, contacting my senator is definitely a thing to do, hope he will find the case interesting enough :-) Just a minor correction: it is not authors' lobby, I think. Real authors (= artists) probably do not have anything significant from OSA. This is a lobby of mass producers (think Eva a Vasek) who create for a job, not for the art itself.

Milan Zamazal wrote:

You can't get your money back in any way. The case of ransom charged on computer hardware etc. was even judged by the ombudsman office and they said it's in full compliance with current law. However they also said that the amount charged per MB should decrease in future as common media capacity increases. But the only way to get rid of the ransom is to change the law. As for copyrighted works, AFAIK we can legally copy works from *original* media, unless they contain some copy protection, from TV and radio and it's at least not punishable to fetch publicly available files from internet. So I'd suggest to copy works from OSA members (and members of other cliques) and to buy works from other authors.

Michal Fabik wrote:

You are right that there is a limit in minimum earnings (among other things) to become an OSA member, but it is possible for virtually anybody, including for example my quite insignificant underground metal band, to register with OSA and become entitled to their own share of the ransom. The only condition is to prove that your work has ever been "publicly used". I emailed an OSA representative to ask how such a "proof" gets authenticated, i.e. why don't I just do a studio recording and mix in some crowd noise to make it sound "live". Her reply wasn't of much use, she basically just confirmed that you have to prove your work has been "publicly used" - "for example by acquiring a confirmation from a music venue proprietor" (her words). So I suggest you bribe your favorite music club owner to call OSA and say something like "Hey, Yenya performed here just yesterday ... sure it was open for the public, the concert was called 'Catslashdevslashurandomgreaterthanslashdevslashdsp'". Then plaster white noise all over the internet and wait some ten years to get your money back:)

petr_p wrote:

Actually, there is a work around: Buy it abroad and persuade customs officer not to open the package (e.g. the seller/shipper claims it as a gift).

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