Portuguese Artists Association Struggled To Get Even 100 Members On List In Favor Of Exorbitant New Private Copying Levies

from the idea-whose-time-has-passed dept

Few ideas display a sense of entitlement better than that of private copying levies. For they assume, by definition, that artists’ representatives have a right to money from the public simply because there is some kind of storage that could be used to hold digital copies of copyright files, and that every time such a file is copied, money must be paid (never mind if you are just making backups or transferring your holdings to bigger storage sizes.)

This is based on the outmoded idea that the public are simply consumers, and ignores the fact that today they are also creators. Take digital photos, for example: since there is no cost involved in taking as many pictures as you wish — unlike in the world of analog photography, where film and processing expenses act as a brake on creativity — a typical collection of family snaps can easily run to many gigabytes. Moreover, most digital cameras also allow videos to be shot, and these generate even larger quantities of data. As a result, an increasing proportion of the data stored on devices has nothing to do with commercial works, and yet the full levy must still be paid.

A further problem is that the capacities of hard disks are now so large that even relatively low per-gigabyte rates generate significant additional costs when applied to disks with terabyte capacities, say. A case in point is the amended scale for Portugal’s private copying levies, announced last month. According to an article in Exame Informatica (original in Portuguese), a 1 terabyte hard disk currently priced around $90 will cost $120 under the new scheme, while a 2 terabyte hard drive that costs $130 now will go up to $200. But this isn’t just about hard drives. USBs, smartphones and even multifunction printers will all be subject to the new levy.

Naturally, the prospect of these surcharges is proving unpopular with the Portuguese public. And so the SPA (Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores — Portuguese Society of Authors), which represents Portuguese artists in all areas — music, audiovisual, dance, plastic arts and cinema — decided to show how the country’s creators really backed the move. The Portuguese blogger Miguel Caetano Carlos Martins describes what happened:

SPA has tried to validate their point by presenting a list of one hundred authors and artists that support this PL118 law. There’s no denying that some author might think its a good idea… even though it might look suspicious that they could get only a hundred of them among their 25k+ registered members; and even though that roughly 20% of those 100 are the association board members; the really horrendous part is that we now found that some of those names were put there without any consent from the authors!

[Update: there are now apparently 200 names on the list – still rather a poor showing for such a large association.] If even a national organization for all categories of artists can’t muster genuine support for such measures, it’s clearly time to get rid of the whole antiquated approach. Inflated prices for digital devices will be a real drag on innovation in Portugal at a time when it is trying to modernize itself. Moreover, the manifest lack of enthusiasm for the SPA’s attempt to mobilize support for the higher levies suggests that the creators themselves derive little benefit from the scheme.

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Comments on “Portuguese Artists Association Struggled To Get Even 100 Members On List In Favor Of Exorbitant New Private Copying Levies”

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Anonymous Coward says:

First, i’m Portuguese. When i first read about this i did a huge facepalm. Almost sticked a finger in my eyesight. As i read more, i immediately saw that SPA was misleading some artists but, as we all know, those societies always do that. Some artists here are struggling, even those that get paid decently. Now, a ex-minister of culture comes up with this attempt to take out more cash from people that are already struggling themselves with the economical crisis that we are dealing with. Another thing that i said to myself that some people could do was to get to SPA’s door and stick a BIG POSTER saying something like: “ADAPT OR DIE! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!” And yes, some artists were duped regarding their names being on the list when they CLEARLY didn’t support (and don’t) this.

Sorry for the (possibily) bad comment but i can’t think of something better to write now. Way too tired with so much stuff.

Cody Jackson (profile) says:

I'm all for these taxes...

if they mean that people can “infringe” on whatever copyrighted works they want without ever being hassled by the RIAA, MPAA, and associated organizations.

But these organizations want these “you must be a pirate” taxes and still won’t allow people to infringe on their copyrights. How does that work?

You pay a tax because of the possibilty that you may infringe on copyright, but if you are caught infringing, then you are taken to court. Yet, you’ve essentially already payed for the infringing content, right?

otto (profile) says:

slight exageration

The figures above are 50% approx. exagerated in absolute value. In relative value by more than 100%. A 1TB these days costs 140 ?. The more hefty fees apply to multimedia external drives whose usage is clearly for copies.
It’s hard to say, but for what I understood these “taxes” imply piracy to your hearts content at home.
Taxes: 5% of the tax go to the government, 20% max for the association managing the redistribution, the rest for authors and editors in fixed proportions. The authors share CANNOT be waived in any form, to avoid pressure from the editors (this one deserves a standing ovation) Peter Green has to reload the shotgun 😉
Now for piracy: the part refering to photocopiers means you can safely take a book from a library to a shop to photocopy, authors and editors are compensated by the tax on equipement and 2 cent per page of copyrighted works: no more police raids into shops. I assume, wrongly perhaps, that the hard disk etc work the same way: copy to your hearts content at home. Sounds fine to me, frankly, especially knowing that the money is going to the authors.
I understood the law as a stop the crap thing, cops have better things to do. I might be wrong. The whole concept, charge the equipment and consumables to almost everyone (there are some exceptions in the law) sounds forward looking. If I use torrents, well, the authors get their share.

Anonymous Coward says:

slight exageration

You are delusional. Your comment is so full of fail that it is hard to know where to begin.

“A 1TB these days costs 140 ?.”

Stop lying. $100 (82 ?) for 2TB, here in Australia.

“The more hefty fees apply to multimedia external drives whose usage is clearly for copies.”

Delusional still. NAS boxes are sold with no drives. The customer puts their own drive(s) in. Will there be a tax official in attendance?

“It’s hard to say, but for what I understood these “taxes” imply piracy to your hearts content at home.”

Hollywood is going to legally allow “piracy to your hearts content at home” — yeah right. You need to take a tranquilliser and have a good lie down.

“the rest for authors and editors in fixed proportions”

And you imagine that the author’s share is going to be divided up fairly? You are clearly grossly unfamiliar with the existing practices of collection societies.

“2 cent per page of copyrighted works”

You do know that there are hundreds of millions of photocopiers that are NOT owned by professional copy shops, don’t you? Will there be a tax official and a copyright expert standing by every one?

“knowing that the money is going to the authors”

Your faith is touching. Too bad it is not founded on reality.

“cops have better things to do”

Too right they do. Staying away from really dumb legislation is one of them.

“If I use torrents, well, the authors get their share.”

How you managed to delude yourself into thinking that, is a mystery.

otto (profile) says:

slight exageration

Stop lying. $100 (82 ?) for 2TB, here in Australia.

Lucky you!

Delusional still. NAS boxes are sold with no drives. The customer puts their own drive(s) in. Will there be a tax official in attendance?

NAS boxes?!??

Hollywood is going to legally allow “piracy to your hearts content at home” — yeah right. You need to take a tranquilliser and have a good lie down.

This is not Australia. Believe it or not there is life outside the empire.

And you imagine that the author’s share is going to be divided up fairly? You are clearly grossly unfamiliar with the existing practices of collection societies.

A compensa??o equitativa de autores, e de artistas, int?rpretes ou executantes, ? inalien?vel e irrenunci?vel, sendo nula qualquer cl?usula contratual em contr?rio.

O montante global da compensa??o equitativa ? distribu?do pelas entidades
representativas dos titulares de direitos, na propor??o de 40% para os autores, 30% para os artistas, int?rpretes ou executantes e 30% para os produtores de fonogramas e de videogramas.

Unless they use DRM: then they get zilch.

Your faith is touching. Too bad it is not founded on reality.

Is founded on reading the law project. See above. Try google translate and good luck, kind Sir.

Austronymous Coward says:

slight exageration

NAS – Network Attached Storage.
Basically it’s little more than a computer case with only enough space for * amount of drives (depending on the model, usually at least 2), control board and power supply to run said * amount of drives, whilst hanging off your Ethernet LAN
Compare that to the average external drive chassis (with or without drive) which holds 1 drive, has a small (usually VERY small) control board, usually uses a power brick plugged into the wall for power (the 2.5″ external drives tend to get their power from the USB port and cord) and connects with USB to your system (or eSATA for such equipped shells).

Nelson Cruz (profile) says:

slight exageration

A 2TB external hard drive was 90? here in Portugal back in October. That was before the floods in Thailand that shutdown production. Prices went up afterwards. This proposal, as currently written, would add a levee of 55,35? (45?+IVA). That’s over 50% of the October price.

Plus, no changes to the “free uses” allowed by Private Copying provisions, and it would still be illegal to break DRM to copy what you buy. And those Torrents you mentioned? ACAPOR and friends will still be able to bring a criminal complaint against you, no problem. You only get the right to copy your CDs, or convert them to MP3, and that’s pretty much it. Sounds fair, doesn’t it? /sarcasm

Also, the government is working on an “anti-piracy law”, that will probably be a further tax on ISPs, site blocking, or 3 strikes (or all of the above).

Loki says:

slight exageration

Because you aren’t using a “professional” to take those photos, to edit them, or to process them, dammit. Even if you do all the work yourself, the “professionals” must still be paid.

I suggest you keep those disks well hidden, too. For while you merely have to pay them now, and can still retain the copyrights for the time being, future legislation will revert those copyrights to the camera manufacturers, and be retroactively applied to 50 years prior to the time such a law is passed.

Loki says:


So let me see if I understand them (IP extremists)correctly.

The massive protests of SOPA/PIPA, and now ACTA, were merely small vocal minorities trying to derail the “democratic process” (if by “democratic process” they mean conducted behind closed doors where only the people who stand to benefit are allowed to participate).

But failure to garner even 1% (and even some of those were fraudulent) from an organization that (in theory) is very pro-copyright is a strong show of support.


FatGiant (profile) says:

slight exageration

Even if your numbers were correct, which is not the case, all your argument is based on one assumption that is completely removed from the reality.

This law proposal only contemplates copies you are already allowed to do. Like copying any media not protected with DRM, for your backup, or to use in another device. The reasoning behind this, is that the copyright industry (including authors, editors, collection societies) need to be “compensated” for those copies, on the assumption that each copy is a “lost sale” and that that is loss.

This ignores completely any and all copies obtained by any other method, either downloads or a loaned cd, dvd or book. This levy will NOT give anyone any extra rights. Nothing at all. There’s no consideration of the consumer side of the question. This proposal only updates the devices and the values, and dismisses any author’s right to distribute it’s content for free or with no restrictions on copy. Under this proposal, the collecting societies would have the right to collect levies on those works, sharing those results only between their members. They don’t allow their members the use of CC licenses.

More, there’s no provision on the original proposal, for the growth in capacity of the devices, in 3 or 4 years, we would be paying a levy 2x bigger then the original price of the device. (In response to this, the responsible inserted a 6% max levy based on the price and 2 years evaluation period, under the impression that this was a reasonable enough suggestion).

Pressed on presenting proof of the “loss” suffered, they presented a study, with extremely high percentages of copies being made. Pressed to divulge the study, it was found that they have used the worst possible method. Out of an unspecified number of interviews they selected a universe of 1,000 persons that confirmed that they do copies, and based their study on their answers “ONLY”.

This law legitimizes nothing on the consumer side.

There’s a lot more involving the complete opacity of how the division will be made, which authors and which editors will be paid or how much. There’s no provision on professional storage, like a data center. There’s no provision on educational or scientific usages like in schools, universities or research centers. There’s no provision for personal backup units, or even for cloud based services.

This law has one and only one purpose, save the collection agency from bankruptcy, caused by many years of bad management and embezzlers.

The abuses mentioned in the article and the low adherence of the artists and authors is mostly based on the suspicions of many of their members that they will never see any of this purported boon. Many of the names on that list, have confirmed privately that they didn’t give their approval, but couldn’t go public for fear of reprisals.

Hope this clarifies somewhat your confusion about this.

otto (profile) says:

slight exageration

Paying all that for the right to copy my own CDs is just a robbery, then.
The photocopy part seems quite clear: it applies to any book you get from anywhere. Everybody pays for the right to make copies of books without fuss.
In this case the levy seems fair. The reference to cassettes applies here: never heard of anyone harassed for cassettes and the authors got a little, maybe. If the idea is pay this and let’s stop the crap, I’m fine. Especially when money goes to artists period. It sickens me editors screaming in the name of artists when most of what they are doing is creaming the artists.
If it’s just stolen from a fair use I go oil the machine gun.

paula (profile) says:

slight exageration

I’m Portuguese and I’m following closely this question

This “taxes” don’t imply piracy at home. This “taxes” are required for the following situation: you buy a CD and you rip it to your computer or mp3 player. You are paying to listen the CD you bought in your mp3 player.

“The authors share CANNOT be waived in any form”
This is an attack to Creative Commons and other open access and copyleft licenses, as well as new business models that rely on giving the digital work for free to increase the physical sales or the merchandising around the work. Because it means the citizen will have to pay a compensation (“taxes”) even if the author gives the work for free.
Besides, the associations that collect the money don’t allow Creative Commons authors as members. They don’t like copyleft licenses and already said publicly they will not represent these authors. These authors will never get the money, even if they wanted to, which they don’t.

There is the pressure from editors problem, but you have to solve it on the editors side. You can’t solve a problem by limiting and prohibiting the victim.

We don’t know if money is getting the authors. We have this “taxes” for photocopiers, CD, DVD since 2004. Most of the money is lost in the process: there is one association that collects the money and takes a percentage, than it distributes it to other nine associations, each one takes a percentage and then we don’t know how it goes to authors because they are private associations.
But we found out that one of this associations, that represent academic authors which books are the most copied, never received any money from the association that collects that money.
Furthermore, you only can copy a part of the book from the library, you can’t copy the whole book nor the most part of it.

This law does not give anything new. They just want us to pay more for what we already have (which is almost nothing – today, in what digital works are concerned you only can do private copy of CD, anything else has DRM and you can’t breaking it even for private or education use).

Anonymous Coward says:


In Poland, where first protests in Europe were, there is an for referendum on ACTA.

On 9th Feb (16 days after this action started) they have counted 300k legitimate signatures (and rising) in a 36kk country. That is almost a similar percentage, but you have to note that “legitimate” means people that are able to vote – latest info is that the whole country has 30 762 931 citizens able to vote.

So… yeah. SPA failed hard if a spontaneous citizen action without media coverage and based solely on voluntary action can gather more signatures than an organization with direct access to all members.

ben says:

In Canada, we already pay a tax on digital media designed to do the same thing described here. The trouble is they have no way of identifying what files your copying without massive privacy infringement. This results in the tax supporting the wrong artists based on some assumption of what people listen too/ watch. Neithet does it allow for non infringing users choosing, instead, too assume guilt over innocense in complete contrast to the rest of the legal system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Portuguese here! Trying to clear this up.

First of all i must note that i am against this “new tax”. It will stifle innovation and digital creation, and make it harder to store and share information (Something that is without a doubt unconstitutional (article 37)).

Now i must make something clear. This isn’t a measure against piracy, or against free speech (shocking!). The government just needs money so badly that it’s trying to tax anything they can.

Anonymous Coward says:

slight exageration

@Nelson Cruz

“site blocking, or 3 strikes”

Heard about the recent verdicts from the European Court of Justice? No 3 strikes, no site blocking, no filtering the contents from the part of the provider, etc…

Just one of the MANY articles i’ve read the last couple of days (below):


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