Sunday, January 20, 2008

Levy on format shifting

Dutch collecting societies and musicians will go to court again to claim remuneration for music copied on a hard disc or a flash memory.

The organisation for neighbouring rights Norma and the Dutch musicians’ unions will start up the court case. The collecting societies and the musicians’ associations had requested a temporary injunction to oblige the Dutch government to pay out remuneration for music being copied on the grounds of the Dutch copyright act. This clearly stipulates that for a copy a levy must be paid. The judge, however, ruled negatively for the collecting societies and associations and referred the parties to a case which is presently under the judge and in which a judge will rule shortly.

The claimants are being supported by two Dutch small political parties which want to have a levy on copying Music on devices like mp3 players. The political parties have asked the state secretary of arts to regulate the levy for the artists. But the state secretary of justice has two aasociations of electronics manufacturers on his side. They are of the opinion that an one-sided levy on electronic products is disturbing in the market.

The legal action is a solo action by a collecting society. Last year the state secretary of justice put a stop to collecting the levy on mp3 players and demanded that the collecting societies should work together. The levy system should be transparent and where possible the collecting societies should deliver one bill. The colelcting societies are now working on one billing system for the industry.

The problem is not just a Dutch problem. In December 2005 Gordon Brown commissioned him to lead an independent review of intellectual property rights in the UK, known as the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property. The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), a body responsible for granting intellectual property (IP) rights, formerly known as the UK Patent Office, is now proposing to open a two-month consultation on six of the 54 recommendations from Andrew Gowers' review of IP, published in December 2006 (mind you, one year later!). All six recommendations are related to the flexibility and balance of the IP system. The UKIPO plans to suggest the introduction of a limited private copying exception for format shifting, e.g. to allow consumers to put content from a purchased CD onto a portable music player.

Blog Posting Number: 983

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