The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has declared that the payment of a copyright fee on purchases of electronic equipment capable of making and reproducing private copies is in accordance with community law. In a ruling published this Thursday, the highest European court supports this compensation measure for copyright holders, as well as for manufacturers to pass on the extra cost to distributors and these to final consumers.
The SGAE already collects more with streaming than in hairdressers
The decision of the CJEU consolidates a regulation that has passed more than fifteen years between political and judicial fluctuations. The current canon for private copying was revived in 2017 by the Government of Mariano Rajoy after the Supreme Court and the CJEU overturned the previous method of copyright compensation, which was charged to the State. This is a rate that applies to electronic equipment and media that can produce, store or reproduce copies of any type of protected content, such as videos, music files or images.
The previous formula paid for by the public coffers was also the work of the first Rajoy government, which changed the method of compensation charged to consumers, approved amid great controversy at the time of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, considering it “arbitrary and unfair”. When justice knocked down that the State took over the payment, the PP designed a payment for private copying that emulated the socialist norm that it had repealed six years earlier.
It was then that the employers’ association Ametic (Multisectoral Association of Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies, Telecommunications and Digital Content Companies) took the new canon to the Supreme Court. The Spanish body referred the issue to the CJEU, which has ruled in favor of the State this Thursday, rejecting Ametic’s arguments.
One of the issues on which the Supreme questioned the community judges is the role in the collection of the Egeda canon, an entity controlled by the copyright management entities. This organization is also the one that decides on requests for exceptions in the payment of the fee, to which the law entitles those citizens and companies that demonstrate that the electronic device they have acquired will be used exclusively for professional purposes.
On this, the CJEU declares that it does not contravene community legislation as long as the certificates of exemption from payment and reimbursements arrive within predefined periods and under objective criteria. In addition, these decisions must be able to be appealed before an independent body in the event that Egeda denies them, something that occurs in the Spanish canon in the opinion of the community magistrates.
The CJEU adds that the entire process, both in the collection and in the exceptions, must be transparent. Companies and citizens must have the possibility to request from Egeda the information that allows them to verify that the law is being complied with and that compensation is adequate. The European body points out that although it seems that the Spanish private copy canon respects this principle, it is up to the Supreme Court to verify that this is the case.