EU politicians clash over copyright levies

Copyright levies on cloud computing services would be a disaster, says the Pirate Party MEP

An E.U. proposal to place copyright levies on cloud computing services would be a complete disaster if implemented, according to a member of the European Parliament.

Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom said Tuesday that he could not envision a proposal worse than that of French MEP Françoise Castex, who presented her plan for the overhaul of the Copyright Directive to the Parliament's legal affairs committee Monday. She said her proposal will make the issue of copyright levies and downloading clearer across the European Union.

"The very principle of levies is all wrong, we should be reducing them, not increasing them," Engstrom said in response.

Castex believes that "the private copying system is a virtuous system that balances the right to copying for private use with fair remuneration to rightholders, and that it is a system worth preserving."

The Castex proposal says that "private copies of protected works made using cloud computing technology may have the same purpose as those made using traditional and/or digital recording media and materials" and that they could therefore be subject to levies as well. The Commission should determine how these private copies of protected works could be taken into account by the private copying compensation mechanisms, she said.

It is this part of the text that Engstrom finds the most worrisome. In a worst-case scenario consumers could end up paying twice for transferring legally purchased content between their own accounts.

However, Castex said that "private copying exemption arrangements enable consumers to copy freely their musical and audio-visual material from one medium to another without the need to seek the authorisation of rightholders, provided that this is for private use."

Digitization is having a huge impact on how cultural goods are being produced, distributed, marketed and consumed, according to Castex. Lower distribution costs can facilitate access to creative works, but at a time of budget austerity, private copying levies constitute a vital source of revenue for the cultural sector, she said.

European Commission figures show that the sum total of private copying levies collected in 23 of the 28 E.U. member states has more than tripled since the current Copyright Directive came into force in 2002 and now stands at more than €600 million (US$814 million).

In her proposal, Castex urges member states and rightholders to "replace their anti-piracy campaigns with 'positive' campaigns highlighting the benefits of private copying levies."

The European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (GESAC) said that it was pleased with the text. The organization represents more than 800,000 creators in Europe across a range of artistic sectors.

"We particularly welcome the report's assertion that private copying levy should apply to all material, media and services whose value resides in their private recording and storage capacity," it said in a statement. "In addition, private copying compensation should also be payable vis-à-vis new online services such as cloud computing."

But Digital Europe, a European association representing the digital technology industry, is strongly against the proposals.

"The current approach of financing culture and creativity by not only protecting an antiquated levy system but by expanding it to new digital developments reduces the use of technology to the consumption of cultural products. Far more it fails to acknowledge market realities and the well-documented mutual benefit and close collaboration of the culture sector and the ICT industry," said the organization in a statement.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intellectual propertyregulationcopyrightlegallegislationgovernment

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?