Spanish digital copyright levies ruled illegal

The EU has declared today that the laws in Spain governing the payment digital copyright levies by private companies to artists for use of their work is not inline with EU legislation.

The EU tribunal has been examining Spain’s laws with regards to copyright in a lawsuit between the General Society of Authors and Editors and the audiovisual company, Padwan S.L., which is refusing to pay compensation to the society because it says it’s goods are not always used to copy work protected by copyright laws.

The General Society of Authors and Editors wants Padawan – a company which sells CD’s, DVD’s and MP3’s – to pay 16,759,25 euros in compensation which it says is the amount corresponding to the company’s sales between September 2002 and September 2004.

A regional court in Barcelona asked the EU tribunal for guidance over the question of the criteria for determining the amount of ‘fair compensation’ payable to authors in relation to the sale of material used to copy their work.

In its sentence today the EU tribunal referred to the European Directive 2001/29/CE on determined aspects of the rights of authors and the exclusive rights of authors in relation to the reproduction of visual, audio and audiovisual material.

Nevertheless, it also admitted that countries can authorize private copying on the condition that fair compensation is paid to authors for the use of their work.