Private copying: as important today as it has always been

Just like the rest of us, creators deserve to be fairly paid for the work they do. By and large, music fans do appreciate this and are willing to compensate the artists they love for the privilege of copying their work. This philosophy forms the basis of Europe’s private copying framework and – no matter how many wonderful, innovative devices have been developed since its inception – it still holds true. After all, a creator born today is entitled to the same protection as a creator born 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, the importance of private copying to Europe’s creative fabric and  creators is not clear to everyone. In February this year Antonio Vitorino published a series of recommendations that undermine the value of private copying levies, threatening the interests of rights holders (artists) and consumers and privileging the profits of big (largely non-European) business.

We spoke at the time about our disappointment at the recommendations. Now, it’s crucial that the European Commission and member states consider the failings of Mr Vitorino’s work and take a more balanced approach.

In recent months, we have been working hard with numerous like-minded rightsholder organisations to convey to Brussels’ decision-makers why and how Mr Vitorino’s recommendations fall so short of satisfactory.

Last week, the debate picked up pace. First, in the Legal Affairs Committee of The European Parliament there was a presentation of the recommendations. On the same day, in the Competitiveness Council, Mr Vitorino gave a presentation of the recommendations followed by an exchange of views. Although Mr Vitorino’s work was considered to be the start of further discussions on the issue, the majority of members expressed initial reservations on certain issues and suggested waiting for more analytical data as well as the results of the pending cases at the European Court of Justice before starting any legislative work or changing the private copy compensation system.

Finally, on Thursday there was a breakfast hosted by MEP Antonio Masip Hidalgo and organised by Spanish collective rights management societies entitled “Spanish private copying system under scrutiny”. Why the situation in Spain is so harmful not only for rightholders but also for consumers was clearly underlined by a Spanish consumer organisation. (Please see the speech)

Needless to say, it looks set to be a game-changing time for this debate. We’ll keep you posted here on this site.