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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Copyright levy on aircraft carriers "unfair", advises Advocate General

The best part of two years ago, a Spanish court -- the Audiencia Provincial de Barcelona --lodged a reference with the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling in Case C-467/08 Sociedad General de Autores y Editores de España (SGAE) v Padawan, S.L. and Entidad de Gestión de Derechos de los Productores Audiovisuales (EGEDA), intervener. The Barcelona court wanted answers to the following questions:

"1. Does the concept of 'fair compensation' in Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 [on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society] entail harmonisation, irrespective of the Member States' right to choose the system of collection which they deem appropriate for the purposes of giving effect to the right to fair compensation of intellectual property rightholders affected by the adoption of the private copying exception or limitation?
2. Regardless of the system used by each Member State to calculate fair compensation, must that system ensure a fair balance between the persons affected, the intellectual property rightholders affected by the private copying exception, to whom the compensation is owed, on the one hand, and the persons directly or indirectly liable to pay the compensation, on the other, and is that balance determined by the reason for the fair compensation, which is to mitigate the harm arising from the private copying exception.?
3. Where a Member State opts for a system of charging or levying in respect of digital reproduction equipment, devices and media, in accordance with the aim pursued by Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 and the context of that provision, must that charge (the fair compensation for private copying) necessarily be linked to the presumed use of those equipment and media for making reproductions covered by the private copying exception, with the result that the application of the charge would be justified where it may be presumed that the digital reproduction equipment, devices and media are to be used for private copying, but not otherwise?
4. If a Member State adopts a private copying 'levy' system, is the indiscriminate application of that 'levy' to undertakings and professional persons who clearly purchase digital reproduction devices and media for purposes other than private copying compatible with the concept of 'fair compensation'?

5. Might the system adopted by the Spanish State of applying the private copying levy indiscriminately to all digital reproduction equipment, devices and media infringe Directive 2001/29, in so far as there is insufficient correlation between the fair compensation and the limitation of the private copying right justifying it, because to a large extent it is applied to different situations in which the limitation of rights justifying the compensation does not exist?"
The IPKat doesn't know much about the background to this reference; nor does he know how Advocate General Trstenjak has advised the Court of Justice to rule, since today's posting of her Opinion on the Curia website is only available in seven of the EU's official languages (including Latvian), but not English. Taking the French version, the AG has advised as follows:
"1. La notion de «compensation équitable» ... est une notion autonome du droit communautaire qui doit être interprétée de manière uniforme dans tous les États membres et être mise en œuvre par chaque État membre, celui-ci déterminant, sur son territoire, les critères les plus pertinents pour assurer, dans les limites imposées par le droit communautaire, et notamment par la directive 92/100, le respect de cette notion communautaire.

2. La notion de «compensation équitable» doit être comprise comme une prestation fournie au titulaire du droit qui constitue, étant tenu compte de toutes les circonstances de la copie privée autorisée, une rémunération appropriée pour l’utilisation de son œuvre protégée ou d’un autre objet protégé. Quel que soit le système qu’ils appliquent pour calculer la compensation équitable, les États membres sont tenus de respecter un juste équilibre entre les personnes concernées, c’est-à-dire, d’une part, les titulaires de droits de propriété intellectuelle lésés par l’exception de copie privée, bénéficiaires de ladite compensation, et, d’autre part, les redevables directs ou indirects.

3. Lorsqu’un État membre opte pour un système de redevance sur les équipements, appareils et matériels de reproduction numérique, conformément à l’objectif poursuivi par l’article 5, paragraphe 2, point b), de la directive 2001/29/CE et au contexte de cette disposition, cette redevance doit nécessairement être liée à l’usage présumé de ces équipements et matériels pour réaliser des reproductions bénéficiant de l’exception de copie privée, de sorte que l’application de l’imposition n’est justifiée que si l’on peut présumer que les équipements, appareils et matériels de reproduction numérique sont utilisés pour réaliser des copies privées.

4. L’application, sans distinction, d’une redevance à des entreprises et à des professionnels qui font clairement l’acquisition d’appareils et de supports de reproduction numérique à des fins autres que celle de la copie privée n’est pas conforme à la notion de «compensation équitable», au sens de l’article 5, paragraphe 2, sous b), de la directive 2001/29.

5. Un système national qui applique sans distinction une redevance pour copie privée à tous les équipements, appareils et supports est contraire à l’article 5, paragraphe 2, sous b), de la directive 2001/29/CE, en l’absence de corrélation suffisante entre la compensation équitable et la limitation pour copie privée du droit [de reproduction] justifiant cette compensation du fait qu’il ne peut être supposé que ces équipements, appareils et supports sont utilisés pour réaliser des copies privées".
This, according to Google Translate [lightly edited/guessed at by the Kat], comes out as follows:
"1. The concept of "fair compensation" ... is an autonomous concept of Community law which must be interpreted uniformly in all Member States and be implemented by each Member State, through application of the most appropriate criteria to ensure, within the limits imposed by Community law, in particular by Directive 92/100, adherence to that Community concept.

2. The concept of "fair compensation" must be understood as a benefit provided to the entitlement holder, taking into account all the circumstances of the private copying permitted, appropriate remuneration for the use of its copyright work or other protected objectives. Whatever system they use to calculate fair compensation, Member States are required to maintain a fair balance between those concerned, that is to say, first, the holders of intellectual property rights harmed by the private copying exception, recipients of such compensation, and, secondly, those directly or indirectly liable to pay it.

3. Where a Member State opts for a system of charges on equipment and equipment of digital reproduction, according to the objective pursued by Article 5, paragraph 2 b) of Directive 2001/29/EC, and in the context of this provision, the fee must necessarily be linked to the alleged use of such equipment and materials for making reproductions of benefiting private copying exception, so that the application of taxation is justified if we can assume that the facilities and equipment of digital reproduction are used to make private copies.

4. The application, without distinction, a charge to companies and professionals who are clearly the acquisition of aircraft carriers [the IPKat has left this bit unchanged: it's the first time he has encountered aircraft carriers in a copyright context] and digital reproduction for purposes other than private copying is not consistent with concept of 'fair compensation' within the meaning of Article 5, paragraph 2 b) of Directive 2001/29.

5. A national system which applies without distinction a private copying levy to all equipment, apparatus and materials is contrary to Article 5, paragraph 2 b) of Directive 2001/29/EC, in the absence of correlation between adequate and fair compensation for private copying limitation of the right [reproductive] for such compensation because it can be assumed that such equipment, devices and media are used to make private copies".
The IPKat asks readers who know about this case and/or who can correct his/Google's translation if they would please be so kind as to post comments below, for the benefit of the English-speaking IP communities around the world whose French, German, Spanish and Latvian isn't up to scratch.

Biggest aircraft carrier here
Make your own aircraft carrier here

3 comments:

William Earley said...

Jeremy,

By no means fluent but I think that the words "because it can be assumed .." in the last point are the reverse of the true meaning; it should read, I think: "owing to the fact that it cannot be assumed..." I think it makes a little more sense then - effectively the A-G is saying that an indiscriminate levy is unfair unless there's some evidence of likelihood that private copying is being carried out. Francophones please correct if I'm wrong!

Steph said...

William Earley is correct.

5. Un système national qui applique sans distinction une redevance pour copie privée à tous les équipements, appareils et supports est contraire à l’article 5, paragraphe 2, sous b), de la directive 2001/29/CE, en l’absence de corrélation suffisante entre la compensation équitable et la limitation pour copie privée du droit [de reproduction] justifiant cette compensation du fait qu’il ne peut être supposé que ces équipements, appareils et supports sont utilisés pour réaliser des copies privées".

FR>EN (by yours truly, FR national):

5. A national system which applies, without distinction, a private copying levy to all equipment, devices and media is contrary to Article 5, paragraph 2 b) of Directive 2001/29/EC, in the absence of sufficient correlation between an adequate compensation and a limitation, for purposes of private copying, of the [reproductive] right justifying this compensation, because it cannot be inferred that such equipment, devices and media are used to make private copies".

That said, very impressed by the Kat's editing and guessing prowess!

A Hungarian friend of the IP Kat said...

In the meantime, it seems that the CJEU released the English version of the AG's opinion:

http://curia.europa.eu/jurisp/cgi-bin/form.pl?lang=en&newform=newform&Submit=Submit&alljur=alljur&jurcdj=jurcdj&jurtpi=jurtpi&jurtfp=jurtfp&alldocrec=alldocrec&docj=docj&docor=docor&docop=docop&docav=docav&docsom=docsom&docinf=docinf&alldocnorec=alldocnorec&docnoj=docnoj&docnoor=docnoor&radtypeord=on&typeord=ALL&docnodecision=docnodecision&allcommjo=allcommjo&affint=affint&affclose=affclose&numaff=&ddatefs=&mdatefs=&ydatefs=&ddatefe=&mdatefe=&ydatefe=&nomusuel=SGAE&domaine=&mots=padawan&resmax=100

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