Portuguese Government Capitulates On Copyright Levies, Despite Lack Of Support From Public And Artists

from the backbone,-what's-that? dept

Back in February last year, Techdirt wrote about the rather pathetic attempts of the Portuguese Society of Authors (SPA) to drum up some support among its members for a new copyright levy on storage devices in the face of a public outcry at the extra costs this would impose on consumer and professional products. This was a dismal failure, and so it’s probably no surprise that the Portuguese government didn’t move forward with the original plans.

Via Nelson Cruz, we learn that there have been some further developments in this area recently. On January 4, SPA suddenly announced that it was taking the Portuguese government to court for failing to bring in the new copyright levy (original in Portuguese.) And then, just as unexpectedly, the next day it said that it was suspending the legal action. The reason for this change of heart was the intervention of Portugal’s Secretary of State for Culture, who got in touch with the president of SPA, and promised to place the copyright levy law before parliament by the end of the month.

It’s hard to see why the Portuguese government is capitulating like this when there is so little support for the new law, both among the Portuguese electorate and even among artists, as our previous story reported. That lack of spine is particularly regrettable given the following statement from SPA (original in Portuguese):

the issue of private copying is resolved in all EU countries, except in Portugal, a situation that causes losses of millions of euros to the authors.

This gives the impression that “all” EU countries have copyright levies, but that’s certainly not the case. As detailed research carried out in 2011 reported, five out of the 27 EU members states do not have copyright levies — UK, Ireland, Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg. Moreover, when the Hargreaves Review recommended that the UK government bring in a limited private copying exception without compensation, it explained its reasoning as follows:

As right holders are well aware of consumers’ behaviour in this respect [of making private copies], our view is that the benefit of being able to do this is already factored into the price that right holders are charging. A limited private copying exception which corresponds to the expectations of buyers and sellers of copyright content, and is therefore already priced into the purchase, will by definition not entail a loss for right holders.

So not only are copyright levies not universal in Europe, but they are unnecessary, since they can be replaced by ordinary pricing mechanisms that are fairer to users and artists. It’s a pity the Portuguese government doesn’t seem to realize that rather than meekly acquiescing to the demands of SPA, a far better option would be to abolish copyright levies altogether.

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Comments on “Portuguese Government Capitulates On Copyright Levies, Despite Lack Of Support From Public And Artists”

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32 Comments
Zakida Paul says:

Ah, the ‘you must be a pirate’ tax that affects everyone whether they are a pirate or not.

More expense for users who want to buy a hard drive.
More expense for businesses who need to buy hard drives to back up customer (and other) important data, the cost of which will inevitably be passed on to customers.

How have these morons not died out by now?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You can spin it as job-creation. The administration of those money eats up such a large part that the administration is the only real benificiary. I wonder if it wouldn’t be a better choise to just hire someone to clean the streets, but then again they loose the facade for the law if they do that.

Mr. Applegate says:

Thank you for justifying piracy!

So, let me make sure I understand this. If I live in a country that has “Copyright Levies” then, I am able to freely copy anything I want. After all I paid the levy.

Not sure why everyone is so upset. No more actually buying books, music, movies… Just download what you want for the cost of an internet connection and a hard drive (or two or three or four…)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Thank you for justifying piracy!

Surely you jest.

Let’s say that I am not interested in the least in any of their content, but I do have several computers. There are probably many that fit this description and yet these people are being asked to contribute towards the betterment of some content middlemen shysters. Do these unfortunate individuals at least get some sort of charitable tax write off for their contributions?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Thank you for justifying piracy!

As far as I know, you are still not free to copy anything you have not purchased. These levies are touted as compensation for private copies of purchased works. Any suggestion that this was a license to share would have the publishers rushing to the government so fast to get the idea killed that they would exceed the speed of light

Anonymous Coward says:

Well I guess I know how to set myself up for life in Portugal then.

1) Open up a phony group that claims to represent similar citizens, such as citizens with dark hair, and sign up a bunch of dark haired people.

2)Demand Portugal’s government put a tax on something and give my dark haired people’s group all the tax revenue it collects. You know, to support dark haired people and their cultural contributions!

3) Threaten to sue Portugal’s government when they refuse to pass said legislation.

4) Profit when Portugal’s government caves and passes the bill!

5) Make up excuses for never sharing any of the dark haired people tax with my dark hair members!

Anonymous Coward says:

this surely shows the power that governments have given to the copyright industry, it shows the fear that governments now have of the copyright industries, so much so that when they something, governments shit backwards and to me it also shows there is something underhand going on between the Portuguese entertainment industries and the Portuguese Secretary of State for Culture. that needs to be investigated as does the lie about ‘the issue of private copying is resolved in all EU countries, except in Portugal, a situation that causes losses of millions of euros to the authors’. not only is this complete bullshit, what right has anyone got to demand, yet again, a new law that benefits them but is detrimental to everyone else, particularly when, after paying a ‘levy’ on to blank media to allow for copying, the same industries that receive that money still campaign for stronger anti-file sharing laws and harsher penalties for doing it? cake and eating it come immediately to mind (or should i use terms like ‘taking the piss, extortion or selfish instead?)

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