(CN) – An adviser to Europe’s Court of Justice cast doubt on a Spanish policy that levies a blanket fee on manufacturers of blank CDs and DVDs to compensate copyright holders for private media reproduction.
A European Union directive allows private copying of media under the condition that copyright holders receive “fair compensation.”
Spain allows already-released works to be privately reproduced without any controls, instead imposing a fee on manufacturers, importers and retailers of digital reproduction equipment. These fees are paid in a lump sum to property rights management societies, which are then supposed to disburse them to copyright holders.
One society, the Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, claimed that PADAWAN S.L., a Spanish maker of CDs and DVDs, owes it about $21,000 for private-use copying between 2002 and 2004.
Advocate General Verica Trstenjak said a proper levy must compensate copyright holders and establish a link between use of the right and the financial compensation.
A levy such as Spain’s is only valid if the equipment, devices and media subjected to the fee will be used for making private copies, Trstenjak said. “A levy in favor of authors, artists and producers may not be applied indiscriminately,” the adviser wrote.
Use for any purpose other than personal would make that fee unfair, Trstenjak concluded.
The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice typically follows the advocate general’s advice.