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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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 16th, 2013 @ 3:19am

    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?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 3:28am

    this is another parasite requiring a law to enable it to feed from the general public under the pretence of collecting money for artists.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 3:30am

    "It's hard to see why the Portuguese government is capitulating like this"

    The check cleared.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jan 16th, 2013 @ 3:46am

    If piracy is thief when nothing is actually taken from the creators, then I guess we need a new word to describe taking real money from everyone for the sake of legacy organizations that have no real purpose but to perpetuate its own existence. I vote for larceny.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    JC, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 3:57am

    The whole thing was a farce.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 4:04am

    Yay to the Portugese Government for permitting piracy!

    Huzzah for Portugal!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 4:34am

    Re:

    Fraud should about cover it.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jan 16th, 2013 @ 4:47am

    Re: Re:

    Fraud is certainly used in passing such laws, but fraud itself doesn't necessarily cover the dispossession property, especially by the force of government in a tax or levy.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 4:49am

    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...)

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jan 16th, 2013 @ 5:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, should have been "dispossession *of* property"

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jan 16th, 2013 @ 5:13am

    Re: Thank you for justifying piracy!

    The problem is that these levies only pay organizations, not the creators. Sure, they may pay a few from time to time, but you'd be required by the government to pay them while they are under no obligation to pay the creators.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well ... they do claim they are doing this for the artists, and yet the artists never seem to benefit from it.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 5:27am

    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?

     

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  14.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jan 16th, 2013 @ 5:33am

    Re:

    Damn I was hoping this would be approved. I'd take this as a green light to download to my heart's content after all the artists will be paid anyway, right?

    In another comment we should build a spiritual chain to help those malevolent souls to leave this world as soon as possible...

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Ed C., Jan 16th, 2013 @ 5:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, keeping the money is fraud, but taking the money is theft. Fraud doesn't apply when money is taken by force.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 5:43am

    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!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 6:08am

    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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  18.  
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    Dsf, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 6:10am

    As a portuguese its not hard seing the government capitulate on something. We are used to it already. And yes most likely is that someone's check cleared. Either that or some lofty promises of employment in a private company after leaving office were made. Welcome to portugal land of the morally corrupt.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 6:20am

    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.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You've already named the word used to describe that. 'Taxation,' is when the government takes your money through force of law. Most taxation is just fraud, mislabeled.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 6:39am

    Re: Re: Thank you for justifying piracy!

    Actually, that was meant to be sarcastic in nature.

    I am quite certain that the general population will (assuming they understand what it is of course), feel that way.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 6:43am

    Re: Re: Thank you for justifying piracy!

    From the "Not my problem" department.

    /s

    Seriously, the post was meant to have a sarcastic bent (though I am sure it is how the average person would feel if they understood what it was).

    Actually I am strongly against any such system.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 6:47am

    Re:

    "Welcome to portugal land of the morally corrupt."

    Well I hope you don't think you have an exclusive license on corruption in politics. I can assure just like everything else they do it "Bigger and Better" in the good old U.S.A.

    Where there is power there is corruption. The two go hand in glove.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 7:04am

    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

     

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  25.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Jan 16th, 2013 @ 11:06am

    Re:

    Ya know what I would be glad to pay for? A hard drive that comes pre-filled with media...I'd love it if I could buy a 2TB hard drive for say 150-250 and it came with a ton of anime, in 720p/1080p, dual audio.

    One can dream...

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Marcos Marado, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re:

    It is already legal to do so: http://mindboosternoori.blogspot.pt/2012/09/copying-music-and-movies-on-internet-is.html

    The difference is, if this new law passes, not only it will cease being legal, you will also start paying for what's being kept legal (eg. printing this comment on paper).

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Marcos Marado, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm not sure about jobs creation, but surely smells like job insurance: the entity that recieves the money is AGECOP, and the person writing the new law's text is Vera Castanheiro, working for the Government, requisitioned from her job... as an AGECOP employee, no less.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    paula simoes, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Thank you for justifying piracy!

    Actually, this levy has nothing to do with piracy, it is a compensation for the right of private copying, which is legal. Suppose you buy a CD, but you want to rip it to listen the music on your mp3 player. The law allows you to do it, but in return it asks you for this levy.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Marcos Marado, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    Not only they're not permitting piracy, but this law actually is meant to do three things:

    * reform legislation about collective societies;
    * reform the private copying taxes (what this post is about);
    * introduce the "Piracy law", which will be *against* so-called "piracy".

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Marcos Marado, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    Re: Re: Thank you for justifying piracy!

    Actually, in Portugal *now* you can download anything you want, and this legislation will *also* (unlike last year's version) stop that.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Marcos Marado, Jan 16th, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    There's nothing to investigate, the facts are public - only the press doesn't seem to care... and the facts are:

    1) The levies are collected by an entity called AGECOP;
    2) The person writing this bill, hired by the SEC, is an AGECOP employee.

    Simple enough?

     

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  32.  
    icon
    Alana (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 3:31am

    Re:

    Wait, since when would artists get money from this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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