EC drops tariff on Indian discs


BRUSSELS -- Pirating music and movies could become a little bit cheaper in Europe now that the European Commission has scrapped its punitive import tariff on blank compact discs from India.

The move, announced Tuesday, comes just months after the commission -- the EU's executive authority -- dropped similar duties on imports of blank discs from Taiwan. The EC also has backed down from threats to slap duties on blank discs from two other major manufacturers: China and Malaysia.

The commission insisted the decision was made entirely on the basis of trade considerations. A spokesman said that the EC could impose punitive measures, known as anti-dumping duties, only if the products were sold below cost and if they hurt the local European industry. But he added that new rules in such cases meant that consumer concerns also had to be weighed, and Europe's appetite for blank discs can no longer be met by European manufacturers.

The spokesman admitted that the blank discs could be used to illegally burn copyrighted movies and music, but while regulations are in place to prosecute illegal copying, there are no laws preventing the sale of the discs.

The Indian duties -- first imposed in 2003 -- were particularly targeted at Moser Baer India Ltd., a major disc production plant, which received government subsidies that helped undercut competition on the European market.

The EU set limited anti-dumping duties of up to 39.5% on Taiwan disc imports in 2002. But the European market has changed since then and, in October 2006, the EU closed an investigation into whether Chinese and Malaysian exporters were dumping recordable CDs, saying such trade protection would "have substantial negative effects" on buyers in Europe.