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Collecting the private copy levy


1.     Why was private copying remuneration created, how is it managed?

The Law of 3 July 1985, known as the Lang Act, introduced private copying remuneration for private individuals to copy private works without prior authorisation, for the loss suffered by the copyright owners of the copied works (authors, artists and producers).

This legal mechanism foresees the remuneration being levied upstream from individuals with manufacturers and importers of blank recording media making it possible to copy works (at the time audio cassettes and VHS ...) and repaid at the rate of 75% to the beneficiaries, the remaining 25% being intended to finance

"actions to assist the creation, the dissemination of live performances, the development of arts and cultural education and training activities" (Article L. 324-17 of the IPC).

It is this law that organises the main principles of fixing, collecting and distributing remuneration for private copying (see Title II, Book II, of the IPC).

The remuneration has been assigned to a Joint Administrative Commission between beneficiaries and payers known as the Commission de la copie privée, an independent administrative authority, which is composed of equal numbers (12 representatives of the beneficiaries - authors, performers, producers, and 12 representatives of the liable parties- 6 representatives of manufacturers and importers, 6 representatives of consumers), currently chaired by Mr Jean MUSITELLI, who defines the tariffs and recording media subject to tax and the methods of declaration and collection.

The law provides that the remuneration is collected from the payers by a collecting society (Art. L 311-6 of the IPC). Originally, two collecting bodies were set up by the societies of authors, artists and producers to carry out this collection task from manufacturers and importers established in France: SORECOP for sound and COPIE FRANCE for video; they have since merged and COPIE FRANCE is now the sole interlocutor of the persons responsible for remuneration.

The distribution of the amounts collected by COPIE FRANCE is carried out between companies of the beneficiaries according to the keys defined by law: 50% for authors, 25% for producers and 25% for performers in the sound sector, three equal parts (33% each) for the video sector, and two parts for the writing and visual arts sectors (50% authors / 50% publishers).

The business of COPIE FRANCE is subject to the control of the Permanent Oversight Commission of collecting and distribution societies established by an Act of 1 August 2000 and governed by Article L 312-13 IPCIPC as well as the provisions of Law No. 2016-925 of 7 July 2016 on freedom of creation, architecture and heritage in Article 18, codified in Article L.311-6 of the IPC.


2.     What is COPIE FRANCE?

COPIE FRANCE is the company that collects the private copying remuneration (PCR) from the liable payers - manufacturers or importers - and distributes it to its member companies and to those that have given it a collection mandate.

7 companies are members of COPIE FRANCE through 3 associations:

  • Authors : SACEM-SDRM / SACD / SCAM
  • Performers : ADAMI / SPEDIDAM
  • Producers : Phonographic producers : SCPA  / Audiovisual Producers : PROCIREP

COPIE FRANCE also collects the PCR on behalf of

  • Writers’ guilds: SOFIA SEAM, SCAM and CFC
  • Visual arts’ guilds: SORIMAGE and AVA


3.     Remuneration, royalty or tax?

Remuneration for private copying is not a "tax" or a disguised tax - the State is not collecting it on its own behalf.

As the Conseil d'Etat has ruled, this levy is a specific method of applying copyright. This remuneration is the consideration for exploitation of a work carried out without the prior authorisation of its author or beneficiaries.

It is therefore a royalty whose principle is provided for by law (the IPC) in favour of beneficiaries (Authors, artists and producers) whose works are copied.

4.     "SACEM tax" / “SORECOP tax" / “COPIE FRANCE tax" ...: what is the relationship of COPIE France with the SACEM?

COPIE FRANCE is a company legally independent from SACEM which is one of its partners but logistically integrated into the services of SACEM and which performs the administrative and accounting tasks necessary for the operation of COPIE FRANCE.


5.     What media are subject to remuneration for private copying in France?

Consult the list of subject media.


6.     How does COPIE FRANCE take into account the capacity of the media to calculate remuneration?

•                      Read the information note on the application of scales

The storage / recording capacity to be declared to COPIE FRANCE for media and devices with an operating system, firmware or software layer * is the total nominal storage capacity of the media or the apparatus, expressed in Go, as notified to the consumer on the packaging of the product.

Indeed, the usual studies which have enabled the Private Copying Commission to fix the remuneration scales on these supports and apparatus were based on the total nominal storage capacity of the latter and excluded from the calculation of the remuneration the share of this capacity not used for copying of contents to be remunerated, including in particular that occupied by the files of the operating system, firmwares and software layers.

* Tablets, telephones, standard and multimedia external hard drives, home NAS, set-top decoders, boxes and portable players.


7.     How can I find out the amount of remuneration to pay for the type of media?

I am a professional: tariff schemes are published in the Official Gazette of the French Republic with each decision voted after they have been set by the “Commission de la copie privée”. The COPIE FRANCE website publishes these schemes in a single document.

I am a private individual: in addition to publishing schemes on the COPIE FRANCE website, a law of 20 December 2011 on private copying requires that the amount of remuneration should be brought to the attention of the purchaser at the time of sale of the recording media. An explanatory notice relating to this remuneration and its purposes, which can be integrated into the media in a digital manner, is also supplied. The conditions for the application of this obligation are defined by a Council of State decreewhich entered into force on 1st of April 2014 and are implemented by the DGCCRF. It provides for different methods of informing the purchaser according to whether the sale takes place in stores, by correspondence, online or for the benefit of a professional.


8.     Are the prices indicated on this site excluding or including tax? What is the rate of VAT applicable to remuneration?

All prices listed on the COPIE FRANCE website are displayed without VAT. The VAT rate applicable to remuneration as paid by the payer is the rate invoiced by COPIE FRANCE. The tax included in the final price paid by the consumer is 20% and is calculated on the total price of the taxable product, including remuneration.


9.     Who pays private copying remuneration, the consumer when buying a recording media/carriermedia/carrier?

The persons liable for private copying remuneration are defined in Article L. 311-4 of the IPC as the manufacturer, the importer (intra-Community or non-EU), of recording media which can be used for reproduction for private use of works fixed on phonograms or videograms, when these media are put into circulation in France.

Paid at source when the product is put into circulation, the royalty is then passed on by the manufacturers, importers or distributors to the price paid by the consumer. As part of the cost price of the media concerned, however, this remuneration may be taken, in whole or in part, from the margin of the manufacturers or distributors.

The passing on of this remuneration to the price paid by the consumer is one of the reasons why manufacturers and distributors of taxable media and consumer associations participate in the negotiations on the fixing of such remuneration within the Commission de la copie privée cited above.


10.   For purchases of media on-line on foreign sites: should the consumer or online sales site pay the remuneration?

French law (Article L 311-4 of the IPC) stipulates that the "manufacturers" and "importers" and "intra-Community purchasers" of media in France are liable for remuneration for private copying remuneration. Previously, the Court of Cassation, and before it the Court of Appeal of Paris * confirmed that for online purchases made on foreign sites, the French consumer, as an importer, was solely responsible for paying the remuneration for private copying. (* Decree of the Court of Appeal of Paris of 22 March 2007 / Judgment of the Court of Cassation, 2nd Civil Chamber of 27 November 2008 and judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal of 17 November 2010)

This situation was radically modified by OPUS SUPPLIES case on 16 June 2011 by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU Case C 462-09 http://curia.europa.eu/juris/). In this case, the CJEU decided that in the case of a sale of a recording media/carrier eligible for private copying in the State where the consumer is located by an e-commerce company based abroad, domestic law should be interpreted to mean that it is the e-commerce operator who is liable for the remuneration.

The High Court further strengthened this principle as it reminded the Member States of their obligation to ensure beneficiaries a necessary financial consideration for any exception or limitation of the right of reproduction, irrespective of the location of the seller concerned.

It follows from that decision that the commercial activity of a site offering to sell on-line from a Member State other than France to end-users in France of media/carriers submitted to private copying remuneration - makes it liable to COPIE FRANCE for this remuneration.


11.   Does the remuneration apply in French overseas departments and territories?

The rules applicable to remuneration for private copying in overseas departments, overseas provinces and overseas collectivities are as follows:

1)     In overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, Réunion and Mayotte): Remuneration is applied like in any other department in mainland France. The local officers of the SACEM can collect this remuneration on behalf of COPIE FRANCE in the case of direct imports to these territories from abroad. To find out what your nearest SACEM office is: http://www.sacem.fr/gdpub/index.do?id=menu.map.agenciesMap.


2)     In overseas territories, provinces and collectivities, there are two possible situations:

•          French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and the French Southern and Antarctic Territories: Pursuant to Article L 811-1 and R 811-1 § 2 of the IPC,the remuneration scheme plan for private copying as provided for by Articles L 311-1 and seq. of the IPC applies to these territories. As a matter of principle, these territories must be equated to departments of mainland France and it is COPIE FRANCE on the mainland that collects the remuneration for these territories.

•          For New Caledonia, pursuant to articles L. 811-1and R.811-1of the IPC, the provisions of the code (article L 311-1 to L 311-8) are applicable, but not the decisions of the commission, unless local enforceability has been expressly provided for. COPIE FRANCE does not, according to applicable law, therefore receive remuneration in this territory.


12.   I am an importer and I have bought products for which the remuneration of another country of the European Union was already included: do I have to pay it again in France?

If the media/carrier is intended to be put into circulation in France, then only the remuneration for private French copying must apply to it, it being understood that is due in principle when the media/carrier is first put into circulation in the territory.

If you have paid a fee in the country where you purchased the media, you can check if and how the company that collected the remuneration in that country can reimburse you for it because the media/carrier will not be in the end used in that country for the purpose of copying.


13.   Why pay for the music you download? We already pay a remuneration for blank media...?

File sharing via P2P do not fall under private copying exception because they presuppose first the provision of files by each user to the whole community of Internet users and then a transfer of files from the offering user to the one who requests the download. It is therefore necessary to distinguish between private copying and P2P, any exchange on a telecommunication network under the exclusive right of authors to authorise or prohibit the exploitation of their works.


14.   Is there a refund for exporting companies?

Yes, the law of 7 July 2016 clearly confirms this possibility (Article L311-8 II bis of the IPC) - "Remuneration for private copying is also not due by the persons making the copy, or those carrying out the export or intra-Community supply of recording media put into circulation in France”.

Are you an exporter? For more information, please visit the COPIE FRANCE website page dedicated to Reimbursement for export.


15.   I am a professional, can I benefit from the exemption from payment of remuneration?

Yes, as permitted by Article L 311-8 of the IPC brought into line with European Union law by an Act of 20 December 2011. This law laid down the principle that "the remuneration for private copying is not due either for recording media acquired, 1) especially for professional purposes, 2) whose conditions of use do not permit a presumption of the use of such materials for private copying purposes". Thus, the mere fact that a media/carrier is used for business purposes or purchased by a legal entity does not mean that it cannot also be used for private copying purposes, since one type of use is not exclusive from the other. What governs the application of remuneration for private copying is not the quality of the purchaser of the media/carrier, but the fact that it is used in particular for the making of copies for private use.

This exemption can be obtained by the sole final purchaser of the support either by concluding an exemption agreement with COPIE FRANCE or by requesting from the latter the reimbursement of remuneration upon production of supporting documents.

COPIE FRANCE examines both types of applications (reimbursement or exemption) according to two criteria: the use made of the support and the end-user quality of the applicant.

To find out everything about the refund and the exemption agreement proposed by COPIE FRANCE, please consult the page "Exemption Conditions".


16.   What is the money which comes from private copying used for?

The law stipulates that 75% of the sums collected must be "distributed on the basis of the private reproductions of each work". Thus, for the 75%, COPIE FRANCE distributes three-quarters of the sums received in the previous month at the end of each month to its partners such as SDRM, SPEDIDAM or PROCIREP or to the companies that have entrusted it with a mandate. using different allocation keys. It is then that these beneficiary companies that must look very precisely into which works have been copied and to which beneficiaries the money received should be redistributed to.

Thus, the remaining 25% is used by collective management organisations to assist in the creation, broadcasting of live performances and training of artists (Article L. 324-17 of the IPC). Remuneration for private copying therefore finances the cultural sector. Thus in 2015, nearly 75 million Euros were invested by collective management organisations, and more than 5,000 cultural projects were supported throughout France thanks to private copying remuneration. The "Culture for private copying"site will inform you of all support actions carried out thanks to remuneration for private copying.


17.   What methods are used to find out which works have been copied in order to redistribute this remuneration?

Each person can make copies from, mainly, two recording sources: works broadcast by radio and TV and works recorded on CD purchased in shops.

The methods used to know which works have been copied are multiple. They consist either of surveys carried out on a regular basis on what consumers copy, surveys which are supplemented by statistics on the sale and distribution of works, or, where the technology permits, by daily copying surveys, which is the case for television programs. It is on the basis of these sources of information that each civil company dedicated to the collecting and distributing of fees, to which COPIE FRANCE pays the remuneration, applies its rules of distribution, established according to its categories of beneficiaries. Thus, the knowledge of what is copied is organised in two stages:

1/ It is from data resulting from these recording sources that we know what is copyable:

•       For music, collection and distribution companies have:

-  radio and TV broadcast surveys which show the works broadcast,

-        information on the sale of records and works reproduced.

•  For the video sector, collection and distribution companies refer to detailed surveys of audio-visual works distributed by channels.


2/ It is from studies on copying practices of individuals that one can find out what is copied and these private copying practices are regularly observed by survey companies.

•For private audio copying: copies made from radio broadcasts and those made from commercially purchased discs are determined on the basis of the results of these surveys. They also make it possible to find out the musical genres copied, grouped into four categories: variety, classical, jazz and miscellaneous.

•  For private video copying, the private copying practices of individuals are discovered through measurements of the copying of audio-visual programs carried out by the company Médiamétrie (on the basis of the “Mediamat” panel).


18.   Is the remuneration system for recording media fair?

It is fair insofar is it constitutes the only source of income for an author or beneficiary for copies made for private purposes.

However, for a beneficiary of a copied work, the amount of remuneration they receive in respect of private copying is fixed at a very low level if we compare it to the amount payable in respect of the exploitation of the same work in a framework other than private copying.

There would not be any justification for private copying, which generates substantial profits for companies that manufacture and market for this sole purpose the reproduction media, bringing in no revenue for creators, whereas the purchase of the media is often for the sole purpose of reproducing their works.

Moreover, the rules applied by collective management companies which receive this remuneration ensure a distribution of sums collected in respect of remuneration for private copying as fair and precise as the available data allow (for more information, consult the question: What methods are used to find out which works have been copied in order to redistribute this remuneration?)

Finally, as reiterated in the question “what is the money from private copying used for?), a part of the sums collected (25%) is used to support creative arts, the dissemination of live shows and training of artists, thus playing a vital role in supporting cultural diversity.


19.   Do technological protection measures (TPM) cancel the right to private copying?

(Technological ProtectionMeasures)

Private copying does not constitute a right but an exception to the right of reproduction. Under these conditions, it is perfectly legitimate for technological protection measures to be put in place on media or files to limit, without preventing, private copying. But technological measures also have a much broader user: by giving holders of rights the possibility of controlling the use made of their works, they make it possible to develop new ways of consuming works (VOD; streaming; subscription download services, etc.).

The IPC nevertheless guarantees that television programs cannot be subject to technological protection measures that would have the effect of depriving the public of the benefit of the exception for private copying (article L. 331-9, para. 1 of the IPC).