IP Forum helps to advance the debate on copyright levies

On Tuesday 1 October, GESAC –the organisation behind this website- attended Marielle Gallo’s IP Forum on copyright levies. With Françoise Castex’s draft parliamentary report on the issue released, and the deadline for amendments set for 18 October, we were eager to hear what the invited speakers had to say on the issue at this timely panel discussion.

As Marielle Gallo pointed out, technological developments have offered in recent years many more ways to copy cultural works than there used to be. It’s not just about teenagers burning CDs any more. How can artists ensure fair remuneration for their work in such a context?

While technology is in constant evolution, consumer behaviours remain largely the same, according to David El Sayegh of French author society SACEM. A recent study revealed that 75% of downloaded music files (and subsequent private copies) originate from authorized sources such as YouTube. Streaming hasn’t replaced private copying. Private copying still has a significant place in the remuneration of artists. The revenues collected through private copying levies contribute to the financing of cultural projects and events to the benefit of all, a fact that is not well known amongst consumers. David El Sayegh re-stated that author societies are open to finding a balanced compromise on the issue of private copying levies. Such a solution would both allow consumers to make private copies and rights holders to receive compensation for the copied works.

Striking the balance between the different voices in the copyright levies debate has been António Vitorino’s arduous task since he was appointed mediator on the issue by the European Commission. Speaking at the IP Forum, he said that he was not advocating for the end of levies but was looking at how to apply the copyright levies logic in the sector of online on-demand services.

On his specific proposal to shift the responsibility for the payment of the levies from storing device manufacturers to retailers, he recognized there was a risk of overburdening retailers with red-tape. He also stated that the recommendations he made at the beginning of the year were neither “absolutely true” nor “absolutely false”. We were happy to hear him advocate for a spirit of compromise and openness as key tools for reaching a solution on the issue of copyright levies.

Followers of this website will remember that rightholders organisations have jointly expressed their dissatisfaction with the report of Mr Vitorino. GESAC has also reflected its views on Mr Vitorino’s recommendations and made its proposals for the improvement and better functioning of the system.