The legal affairs committee exchanged views on the draft report by Mrs Castex MEP on the issue of private copying levies on 14 October 2013.
The draft report is very positive for authors and performers and reflects the importance of the levy system in compensating them for their inability to authorise copies of their works for the private use of consumers.
The report received strong support from EPP member Mrs Gallo. After that however the criticisms and bar room politics started.
Mrs Wikström doesn’t see why she should have to buy 2 CD’s to be able to listen to her music at home and in her BMW(!). She seems to misunderstand that that is the whole point. Private copying levies mean that she doesn’t have to.
Mr Engström doesn’t understand why he should pay private copying levies on his smartphone as he doesn’t listen to music on it. He uses it for phone call and text messages only. 1) He doesn’t need a smart phone to make phone calls and send text messages. No one is levying a basic mobile telephone. 2) Lots of people do use smartphones to listen to music. They copy the music onto their phone to be able to do so. Removing levies brings back DRM and limited music on mobile devices. 3) The levy tariffs take into account usage statistics. We know that not everyone will use smartphones to copy protected works and adjust tariffs accordingly.*
The best was saved for last. Mr Stoyanov thinks the money going to the Bulgarian culture fund is a waste of money so all levies should be stopped as the same is probably true everywhere else. Mr Speroni thinks the police can come to his house to check his hard-drive and ask to see the original CDs.
These arguments are not based in the reality of the private copying levy system. At best they deliberately misrepresent the system, at worst they are fear mongering lies.
Private copying levies were created to compensate creators for their inability to enforce their exclusive rights. Back then we only copied from the radio and vinyls onto cassettes and from the TV onto VHS cassettes. Consumers now transfer songs and videos from computers to hard drives to phones to tablets to online lockers and back again in order to save and access their personal libraries whenever and wherever they want. All of these processes are undeniably acts of private copying.
We can phase out private copying levies as we phase out copying. I don’t think we’re there yet though.
* Mr Engström also complained about levies on TeraByte hardrives claiming that no-one could possibly fill them with copyrighted material. 1) Levy tariff setting will take into account the probable percentage of such a device that is used to store copyright protected works and what is used for home movies and family photos. 2) Looking to the future – iTunes HD movies are 3-5 GB, it would take 250 HD films to fill such a 1TB hard drive. As memory space becomes less of a limiting factors, consumers will look to maintain the audio quality of songs and use less compression technology. A CD rip in WAV format is approximately 40MB per track and the newly available 24bit studio master quality audio tracks are at 100MB.