Copyright levy update Hungary: storage media in PCs subject to levy from 1 January 2020

For years, storage media in personal computers were not subject to payment of a blank carrier copyright levy. As of 1 January 2020, that became history. As from that date, all storage media integrated in non-portable and portable personal computers - desktop PCs and laptops - are subject to copyright levies according to a new, specific copyright levy bulletin of Artisjus, the relevant collective rights management body.

New categories and rates

Artisjus is the Hungarian collective rights management body for songwriters, literary authors and publishers. The structure of its new tariff, entitled ‘Ü-PC 20’ (see here, only in Hungarian), is similar to Artisjus’ tariff for other storage media (‘Ü 20’): the exact amount of the copyright levy payable is determined on the basis of the storage capacity of the internal storage unit, and differs slightly for desktop PCs and laptops.

For internal storage units integrated in non-portable personal computers suitable for playing audio and/or audio-visual content (desktop PCs), the levy amounts are (i) EUR 1.51 (HUF 500) for capacity of from 1 to 255 GB; (ii) EUR 3.03 (HUF 1,000) for 256 to 499 GB; (iii) EUR 4.54 (HUF 1,500)for 500 to 499 GB; and (iv) EUR 6.06 (HUF 2,000) for more than 600 GB,per product.

For internal storage units integrated in portable personal computers suitable for playing audio and/or audio-visual content (laptops), the levy amounts are (i) EUR 3.03 (HUF 1,000) for capacity of from 1 to 499 GB:; (ii) EUR 4.54 (HUF 1,500) for 500 to 999 GB; (iii) EUR 6.06 (HUF 2,000) for 500 and 1,999 GB; and (iv) EUR 7.57 (HUF 2,500) for 2,000 GB or more, per product.

The rates are actually set in Hungarian Forints, so the Euro amounts above are subject to change depending on the exchange rate, and are provided for information purposes only.

Reporting and payment deadlines

As with other products, manufacturers, importers and distributors are obliged to pay the levy. Artisjus offers hologram labels free of charge in the case of products ordered before 31 December 2019, even where the purchase invoice is dated or the delivery carried out after 1 January 2020. The labels must be affixed to products to certify that the levy has been paid.

Artisjus asks manufacturers and importers to report their product inventories by 29 February 2020 at the latest; inventory ordered in 2019 and 2020 should be listed separately. The deadline for placing hologram labels on the newly-affected products is 29 February 2020.

Questions that may arise

An important question is whether the copyright levy obligation also applies to custom-built computers. According to Artisjus, the answer is definitely yes. The copyright levy is payable upon the ordered storage capacity of the PC.

Another issue is computers equipped with more than one storage unit. Here, the combined storage capacity of the units is the basis for calculating the levy. For example, if there is a 2 TB HDD and a 256 GB SSD in a laptop PC, those storage capacities should be added up, and the levy is payable on 2,304 GB, amounting to around EUR 7.57.

Furthermore, hard drives sold separately are not subject to a levy on their own, only PCs based on their internal storage capacity.

Artisjus hologram labels are issued with an identification number which pertains to a specific storage capacity. Thus, it is very important to affix the labels only to products of the correct storage capacity; they may be examined by Artisjus, and copyright levy disputes could arise.

Personal computers bought in the context of a public procurement process or exclusively for institutional or internal company purposes may be exempt from the copyright levy payment obligation if the professional nature of the use can be substantiated.

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