European authors, songwriters and artist groups have welcomed the decision by the European Commission to shelve its plans to reform the copyright levy system for consumer electronics.

It comes after Commission President José Manuel Barroso said more reflection was needed on how best to overhaul the decades-old system that compensates artists by skimming a fee off the price of any DVD recorder, MP3 player and blank disc sold.

"We salute the Commission's determination to address intellectual property and cultural issues with all appropriate consideration and proper debates," said cross-industry coalition Culture First.

Culture First's members include European authors' group GESAC, international authors' group CISAC, international performing artists' group GIART, the International Confederation of Music Publishers ICMP/CIEM, independent music companies trade group Impala and European actors' federation EuroFIA.

"Remuneration for private copying entails no significant extra costs for the hardware industry that markets copy-enabling equipment or media and makes high profits from these sales," the group said in its statement.

"It is currently the only mechanism that allows the creative sector to be compensated for the widespread copying of their works for domestic use. Crucially, in exchange of a legitimate top-up to the income of rightholders, it enables consumers to make copies for their private use."

The reform of the levies was backed by business and IT companies, who said the system was anachronistic, badly applied, and sometimes multiplied for the same song when used on computers, black CDs and digital downloads.

The scope and extent of copyright levies varies from country to country. France, for example, applies a levy of €6 ($7.90) on an iPod with 4GB memory. Germany has a levy of €2.56 ($3.37) on the same product, while the Netherlands and Belgium impose no levies on iPods.

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