E.U. Court Nixes Spain’s |Private Copying Law

     (CN) — A Spanish law allowing the state to finance private copying of intellectual property violates a European Union directive protecting authors and copyright holders, the Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.
     The case stems from a 2013 lawsuit that international property-rights collecting societies brought against Spain for issuing a royal decree that they claim violated a more than decade-old E.U. directive.
     Issued in 2001, the directive forced member states to guarantee authors have the exclusive right to authorize the reproduction of their intellectual property, but a so-called “private copying exception” allows people to reproduce a work for non-commercial purposes.
     The copyright collectors — led by Entidad de Gestión de Derechos de los Productores Audiovisuales (EGEDA) — fought to annul the law in Spain’s judiciary before the country’s Supreme Court punted the question to the E.U.’s Court of Justice.
     On Thursday, the Luxembourg-based court found that Spain’s decree — which is similar to other models in Estonia, Finland and Norway — violates the E.U. directive.
     In theory, E.U. member states can finance private copying in their budgets, the judges found.
     Spain’s problem arose because its law was financed by both its citizen taxpayers and corporate “legal persons.”
     The judges noted that “there is nothing in the file submitted to the court to suggest that there is, in the present case, a particular measure allowing legal persons… to request to be exempted from financing of that compensation or, at least, to seek reimbursement.”
     In effect, the rights-holders were required to finance the program behind their own compensation, according to the judgment.

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