Private Copying Levies

Yesterday we had another meeting related to the copyright reform policy in the European Parliament. The name of the event was "Private Copying Levies and the main idea was: How to reform copyright and what should be done with the copyright levies that are payed when empty media is purchased. It was a meeting of the Committee of Legal Affairs and the main rapporteur for this issue was Françoise Castex.

At least that was the original premise. In reality, the discussion began with the speeches of representatives from the recording industry defending their positions utterly.

Current Europe is sometimes being called as the Europe in crisis. The young generation has more complicated position in the job market than before and several countries in EU are already facing severe social problems. The representatives from the recording industry used mainly this point for justifying their position and their statements, speaking about possible consequences of any copyright reform could have - a loss of workplaces that they provide. Needless to say, even they admitted that the whole distribution chain lack transparency. So even if the customer pay levies, he has no idea who he pays and what are his money used for. And I could also mention a scenario, in which these thousands and million euros paid each year could be actually used by governments for creating jobs transparently instead of being gulped by the recording industry... But the jobs were not the only argument that was presented. The recording industry also pointed out how they contribute to the cultural enrichments thanks to the levies being paid. This was done mostly by a explanation that paying a fee from private copies make cultural events more cheap and affordable. A colorful complex presentation was shown with many calculations.

The representatives of the recording industry did their best in order to convince everyone in the room for accepting their ideas and opinions. However, they were not united in their positions. Some said how the current copyright system is working well, while others pointed out how a rules done 50 years ago can't simply be applied for current world, where streaming and cloud sharing becomes the norm. The rights of the consumer were not mentioned at all, the right for making a copy of every digital document was presented as a burden that the recording industry must bear, implying it represents something unfair, causing only economic damage and loss.

Being highly irritated with the positions of the representatives of the recording industry, several Members of the European Parliament decided to respond to the speeches. I would like to name here two of them. One was the Swedish Pirate Christian Engström, the other Bulgarian conservative Dmitar Stoyanov. In order to show the possible absurd implication of current copyright policies, they used simple examples. "Why don't we impose a copyright fee on pencils and paper, I can do copies with these as well" might be perhaps a good example such an approach.

In essence: An important meeting and an interesting debate quickly turned into a fight where each side tried to take the lead position. This can be illustrated for example by a shouting Spanish parlamentarian, whose name I can't remember and who insisted that "We must act now in order to protect our industry". In the end no conclusion was made and nothing was made more clear than in the beginning of the meeting. The only thing that the chairman of the committee could do was to dismiss the session in the proper time, noting that the translators will work only till 12:30.


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