Sections of the German music business are furious at recent copyright law amendments that allow consumers to make an unlimited number of private copies of CDs and DVDs.

And although the new additions still forbid consumers from bypassing encrypted codes to make copies, or duplicate pirated recordings, the local recording sector is fuming.

"The new copyright law is a step backwards and, in our view, infringes Article 14 of the Constitutional Law that protects any kind of (intellectual) property", says Michael Haentjes, chairman of the BPW, the German recording industry association.

"After endless negotiations and consultations, the legislator has missed out on a major opportunity to adapt the protection of private property to the radical changes in the digital world," Haentjes continues.

The reforms were passed at the German Parliament (Bundestag) last Tuesday by the country's ruling political parties CDU, SPD and FDP, following several months' debate on Germany's 2003 Copyright Law.

The government's federal minister of Justice Brigitte Zypries (SPD) said that the amendment made copyright law "fit for the digital age."

The controversial amended legislation now goes to the Bundestag's Upper House for consideration this fall. If the Upper House also approves the new provisions, the new copyright law will come into effect before the year ends.

The recording industry is considering appealing on constitutional grounds.

Haentjes argues that three copies are made for every CD sold today. During the heyday of the vinyl LPs, however, the ratio was two copies to one original.

In 2006 alone, almost 500 million units of CDs with music were burned on to blank discs, the BPW estimates.

"But creative people, artists and employees in the music, film and publishing sector cannot make a living on (private) copies," Haentjes adds.

Another significant development about private-copying levies also emerged this week.

The 2003 copyright law stipulated a fixed levy of 5% on the retail prices for electronic hardware to compensate rights holders. This amounts to €9.21 ($12.50) per video or DVD recorder, or €1.28 ($1.73) for MP3 players.

Instead of a legally imposed fixed rate in the future, the reformed law asks hardware manufacturers and the collecting societies to negotiate for an appropriate rate.