The Society of Audiovisual Authors congratulates the European Parliament and particularly French MEP Françoise Castex, following the adoption of her report in plenary on private copying levies on 27 February. The report rightly underlines the continued relevance of the system to the digital age and its importance to Europe’s creators.
Mrs Castex’s report includes a number of detailed clarifications on different elements of the virtuous system that provides legal certainty for booming device manufacturers and importers, freedom to copy for consumers and fair compensation for creators. The report correctly identifies where the implementation of the current system needs to evolve to match modern consumers’ expectations (through updated lists of leviable devices) and the demands of the single market (improved levy setting and cross border declaration systems).
Presented as the European Parliament’s response to private copying “mediator”, Antonio Vitorino’s report from last year, the committee has countered a number of Vitorino’s suggestions. Phasing out the system is completely unrealistic as consumers will still seek a freedom to copy that would be untenable in the absence of the exception. Shifting the levy payments to retailers has also been demonstrated as excessively burdensome.
The report also casts a shadow over the UK’s attempts to introduce the private copying exception without any fair compensation for rightholders and the Spanish government’s inexplicable decision to give a 115m€ discount to device manufacturers and importers while further challenging an already stretched public purse and failing to guarantee a drop in prices to consumers.