On the 27th of February, the Own Initiative report on private copying levies was adopted in the European Parliament plenary with 252 MEPs in favour, 122 against, and 15 abstaining. The Own Initiative was only voted on in the Committee for Legal Affairs (JURI) ten days ago, after having been delayed since December.
According Rapporteur MEP Francoise Castex’s (S&D, FR) report, the European Parliament agrees that an EU-wide legislative system for the management of private copying levies, a certain price paid on storage space with the aim to remunerate authors, should be created. This should include the harmonisation of rates of private copying levies across all the member states, reducing the phenomenon of ‘forum shopping’. Several proposals were made during the drafting process to phase out private copy levies or replace them with a licensing system. However, the Parliament decided to reject these recommendations in the end which would have completely overhauled the system.
The Parliament report also calls for the private copy system to be updated to current technological developments by including new leviable devices, as well as to contain cross border declaration systems and an improved levy setting. Although the name implies otherwise, “it shouldn’t be thought of as a levy, it is a contribution to copyright. It is not a tax”, Castex (S&D, FR) emphasised during the plenary session in Strasbourg. The centre-left MEP also argued that the biggest problem consumers have with the current system of private copying levy collection is not the system itself, but its lack of transparency.
Although the Parliament’s opinion is non-binding, the contents of this report is likely to feed into the bigger debate on a review of European copyright rules which is currently taking place in the European Commission.