Copy fee illegal in spain

The court ordered the repayment, the music industry clings to the decision of the socialist government to regulate the ie now by law

In spain, a high fee is charged for the purchase of blank cds or dvds at the time of purchase. This is illegal, a court has now ruled, partly because there is no legal provision for it. A private agreement is no basis for this. The supporters of the fee are now clinging to a draft for a new copyright law, with which the fee is to be legally regulated. But this could prove to be a boomerang. The government’s draft also falls far short of the ideas of the authors’ associations to impose a levy on all data carriers, even dsl connections. The opposition is demanding the abolition of the fee, and its bill has already successfully passed the lower house of parliament. Spain is also falling further behind in information technology.

"I order you to reimburse the plaintiff one euro and 72 cents." this was the verdict of the judge in alcala de henares (madrid), who last week ordered the company batch pc to return the sum to a programmer at the university of alcala de henares.

Reynaldo cordero was not so much about money. Like the association of netizens (ai), the rough union (ccoo) and many pc users he defends his rights against unjustified fees of the music industry and author associations. They had reached a private agreement with the manufacturers of blanks and introduced the copying fee in september 2003 with the connivance of the then conservative government. It is levied like a tax at the time of purchase and paid directly to the authors’ associations, as a lump sum on all blanks. This high fee in comparison to other european parties was the 1. January have even been raised by another 30 percent (christmas time – time to give presents).

"Ten purchased cd-roms have a wide range of uses and need not necessarily be used to copy literary, artistic or scientific works," the judge ruled. The levy is only legal if it "complies with the right to a private copy under section 25 of the copyright act". Since the 39-year-old programmer could credibly argue that he was storing free software on it, it was an "illegal levy".

The right to a private copy, with which the levy is always justified, is practically undermined by copy protection procedures. Whoever enforces it risks even a prison sentence (jail for private copies of cds and dvds)?). After their election victory, the socialists (psoe) have not polished the previously criticized laws of the conservative processors as promised, but have even tightened them up under the heading of fighting piracy (pre-censorship, summary proceedings and internet police).

The battle over the fee is being fought on the sideshow stage. The authors’ associations have entrenched themselves in a bunker with their agreement. The winner of the first fee ruling indicates how paradoxical the situation is: "the store, obliged to pay the fee for the authors’ associations, is now forced to return the money to the consumer."Batch pc must now sue to get the money back from the wholesaler, who must then go after the authors’ associations. A situation that cordero calls "defenselessness" that has now passed to the handlers.

The verdict is a bitter blow for the authors’ associations, which for years have been pocketing a lot of money. But now it seems that what the netizens of the most militant organization had threatened has come true. They will lose the "war" that the hated "association of authors in spain" (sgae) has started (spain’s netizens declare war on sgae). Which stores will still charge the fee if they are now held liable for it?

The counter-campaign is boosted, no one expected such a positive verdict, especially not in the first of the many pending cases. The aim was to create doubts about the legitimacy of the fee in a judge who will pass the case to the constitutional court for a decision. A single person cannot go to the highest court in spain, so the lawyer javier de la cueva offered a model lawsuit so that as many lawsuits as possible would be filed ("i want my 22 cents back").

New copyright law in preparation

What effects the ruling will have on the planned new copyright law is still unclear (tightening of spanish internet law planned) last friday, the socialist government approved a bill in the cabinet that would also legally regulate copying fees. Now the advocates of the fee cling to this straw. The association of music producers promusicae and the business association asimelec buried the project on wednesday. It falls far short of their demands. Expressly excluded are, for example, fees on hard disks and dsl connections. In the insatiable greed for fees, the sgae wanted to levy taxes on everything that can be used to play music or movies (internet police in spain).

The law wants to "harmonize the rights of authors in relation to the rights of consumers."It should only apply to "data carriers used primarily for copying". Whether this applies to cds and dvds is questionable. Nor does the bill include them and spell out the current enormous fees. Even asimelec considers the fees to be too high, as they encourage cheaper internet shopping abroad and restrict national production and sales.

The netizens also have a new approach to lawsuits. Unlike in germany, the fee will again be levied across the board on all data carriers. Cds and dvds will not be used primarily for private copying, which the law continues to allow. The sgae states completely exaggerated, almost 77 percent of all blank discs were used for this purpose. Asimelec puts the figure at only 13%. This is still a data carrier on which mainly copies are made? A case for the judges. Another rabbit hole for the music industry could be the restriction of copy protection, so that the right to a private copy can also be implemented.

However, even before the draft was passed by the cabinet, it was facing fierce headwinds. The opposition people’s party (pp), which once as a government enabled the introduction of the fee, has drafted its own copyright law to abolish the copying fee. She has already passed it through the lower house of parliament,. It is an "undifferentiated tax" that "damages the competitiveness of spanish industry," he added.

Since the socialists do not have a majority of their own, there will still have to be positive consumer annexes to win the approval of the united left (iu) and the nationalists from catalonia, the basque country and galicia. They are critical of the copyright law. Since they are at war with the pp, their bill should not have a chance in congress.

Lagging behind in internet use

Overall, new technologies in spain are in a bad way. The foundation of the bbva bank presented a study according to which 71 percent of the population considers the internet to be unnecessary. Internet use is low in comparison with the rest of the eu. Only in the basque country and catalonia is the situation different, due to the demands of the autonomous governments (spain continues to lose ground in internet use).

According to the ministry of industry and information technology companies, the country needs the sum of 16 billion euros annually to catch up with the european average, the daily el mundo reported wednesday on a study by the ministry and the business association aetic. Only 1.7% of the gross domestic product is spent on information technology, far behind the eu average of 3.1%. Only in lithuania and greece it is even less.

The government will once again work out a "plan" to eliminate the "gap by 2010", stated rafael sagrario, director general of the information technology secretariat. Where the horrendous sums are supposed to come from, he probably does not know either. In any case, the time of massive payments from brussels is over. Instead of being the main recipient country, spain was to become a net contributor from 2007 because per capita income in the enlarged eu now exceeds 90 percent of the eu average. The cohesion fund alone would lose eight billion euros a year.

Modernization will now begin in the upper house of parliament. Congress has decided on its update. The fact that basic courses in the use of information technology for parliamentarians are on the agenda for 2006 shows how outdated the people’s representatives in madrid are, who often do not even have their own website. This situation explains why the internet vote on the eu treaty failed so miserably (vote on eu treaty in spanish).

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