News about legal information relating to Information Technology from European directives, and pan-European legal requirements and regulations.

European Commission Consulting on Copyright Levy

Under the Copyright Directive, EU member states were given a choice: either allow private copying and give 'fair compensation' to rights holders or ban private copying. Most European countries (except 5 member states) allowed copying of music for private use. These countries add a levy to the cost of items which are likely to be used to make private copies.

The Commission is now consulting with industry so that it can change the laws around this 'copyright levy' to suit the world of digital copying. An initiative on copyright levies is in the commission work program 2006. The additional follow-up consultation focuses on a series of salient points and will run from 6 June to 14 July 2006.

The commission sought to address the issue by posing various questions from several aspects, which also indicted the possible changes in the new law:

In the consultation document, the commission stated that in the digital media world "it would no longer be possible to hold only liable the manufacturers or importers of equipment and media. The logic of levies would also have to be applied to broadband and infrastructure service providers including telecommunications providers that carry content." This statement may indicate the possibility to impose copyright levy on ISPs in the future. However the commission also recognized that clarifying the complex situation is not an easy task, and it may cause "a serious risk of a backlash against the rights holder community and consumer welfare".

The consultation paper is available at

By Yue Liu, NRCCL, Oslo, Norway