Private copying compensation

The private copying compensation system entails device manufacturers or importers paying a small sum, which is then distributed to authors as payment for their work being copied privately.

The system is based on EU law that provides a copyright exception for private non-commercial copies made by individuals and requires the payment of “fair compensation”.

Compensation is typically attached to the price of recording devices, like smartphones, and calculated using market research to discern consumer behaviour when it comes to making private copies of creative work.

An example of private copying in practice is when you make a copy of a song on a device other than the one you originally purchased it on, or a back-up of your albums on an external drive or online private file hosting service.

This type of compensation holds many benefits for authors, consumers and Europe’s cultural sector. Given the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is also more important than ever. Read on to find out why.

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How creators benefit

The private copying compensation system was put in place to effectively compensate authors while allowing consumers to make private copies of their own. In 2019, private copying fees accounted for 13% of the royalties European creators received from their authors’ societies for the usage of their work.

It is currently the fifth highest royalty category behind broadcasting, background music, live performance and online. The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a huge reduction in live events and the closure of venues that would have used creative works for background music. TV productions have also slowed down as a result of the crisis, and all this means that private copying income will be an all-important revenue stream for creators in the months and years ahead. What’s more, the special cultural and social funds derived from private copy collections also formed a substantial part of the emergency support offered to creators who were most affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

Private copying levies are not only fair, they are also an essential part of the income of authors and composers, who often struggle to make a living from their creations. It is a revenue stream that goes directly to creators through their societies. This is good for authors and this is good for us all. We all enjoy a rich and diverse cultural scene. And we all benefit from the contribution culture makes to our economies, and our lives.

How consumers benefit

How European culture benefits