Dumb phones like the Nokia 3310 will not be taxed from January 1

The private copying tax now also applies to feature phones, these “smartphones” whose functionality is reduced to the essential to reduce their price, limit hyperconnectivity, and boost battery life. The Private Copying Remuneration Commission actually acknowledges the success of these devices in sales.

Nokia 3310 feature phone
A Nokia 3310 (2017) / Credits: Phonandroid

You fell for the 2017 reissue of the Nokia 3310, or for this other feature phone, the 8110, reissue of the phone used by Neo in a scene from the film Matrix (1999) ? You are not alone. Feature phones are a kind of antidote to the invasion of smartphones in our daily lives.

These phones have a reduced selection of applications and features. This is appreciated by a large portion of users looking to disconnect, or a functional device for certain activities (extreme sports, outings, etc.).

The success of feature phone sales interests the Commission for Remuneration for Private Copying

These devices don’t usually run on Android, but on lighter operating systems. The leader in this industry is the KaiOS operating system. Despite this ultra-light orientation, they nevertheless remain equipped with common messaging applications, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

And can embed some of Google applications, such as Google Maps. Feature phones have always existed. In fact, with the advent of smartphones, we had to find a differentiating name for them (feature phone). They are, you can see, basically classic mobile phones, with a pinch of functionality that comes from smartphones.

Above all, they are available at a low price, which makes them particularly accessible and popular. The analyst institute Counterpoint Research estimates in a report published on March 13, 2019 that more than a billion feature phones will be sold worldwide by 2022.

The new scale of the private copying levy targeting feature phones

It would have been astonishing that the Commission for the Remuneration of Private Copying – which taxes electronic equipment according to its storage space – did not seize it. Even though most of its devices have internal storage space close to starving.

We therefore discover this December 1 a new decision of the commission in the Official Journal. This decision introduces the following four new tax thresholds, which, you will see from the size of the storage space involved, directly affect these inexpensive phones:

  • Up to 135 MB: € 0.50
  • Greater than 135 MB and less than or equal to 537 MB: € 1.50
  • Greater than 537 MB and less than or equal to 2 GB: € 2.50
  • Greater than 2 GB and less than or equal to 8 GB: € 4.00

De facto these four new thresholds replace the mention “Up to 8 GB” in the scale of the private copying tax previously in force. The text specifies that the decision “Will enter into force from the first day of the month following its publication”. Which gives a effective application from January 1, 2020.

Private copying, a royalty resulting from consumer rights

The private copy is an exception to copyright based on a similar device introduced in Germany in 1965. The device came into being with the arrival of the first personal magnetic tape recorders. Fundamentally, the private copying device authorizes any individual to copy for personal use or restricts a work subject to copyright.

In France, private copying is nevertheless also with a royalty. This levy, which takes place during any purchase of a multimedia device capable of creating “private copies” of works protected by copyright (iPod, smartphones, computers, hard drives, etc.) remunerates the beneficiaries. This royalty benefits 50% to authors, 25% to performers and 25% to producers.

In addition, 25% of private copying is used to finance creation while the rest is paid directly to rights holders. Manufacturers and importers who sell their products in France are all required to include the tax in the selling price. There is, however, one exception to be aware of: European sales sites are not subject to the private copying tax (judgment of the Paris Court of Appeal of March 22, 2007).

Read also: A private copying tax on used smartphones soon?

Fortunately, this fee is not very high – although it will definitely add to the price of feature phones. While we are just before the Christmas holidays this year, we therefore advise you not to wait until January to buy a feature phone, at the risk of having to pay more for it.

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