Austria, Netherlands and Portugal all update copyright laws

It’s not just the European Commission working on a revision of copyright legislation. Before the different national governments broke up for summer recess, 3 managed to squeeze through copyright legislation.

The first is the Netherlands which has adopted a very interesting law for screenwriters and directors with a number of provisions that should help them secure fair remuneration for their work.

It includes provisions requiring written contracts that clearly state which rights are being transferred as well as providing for an unwaivable right to proportional fair remuneration with compulsory collective management for broadcasting (including catch-up services) and retransmission services. On-demand exploitation isn’t covered by the new agreement but we understand that a voluntary collective agreement is under negotiation. There has been significant conflict in recent years over the application of the Satellite and Cable Directive with Dutch cable operators refusing to pay authors and performers. The new law should help resolve this but discussions won’t be easy as the authors’ and performers’ societies must negotiate with a possibly cartel-like collective body (RODAP) made up of all the cable operators, producers and broadcasters.

Despite the difficult conditions the new law could be a possible source of inspiration for other countries and even the European Commission as it prepares its legislative initiative on copyright? You can read a short summary of the law, which came into force on 1st July, in English here. The authors and performers societies have made a video describing the law here.

Things are less positive in Austria, however. The new law there extended the list of devices subject to private copying levies. While this may seem like positive news for authors, the law contains a number of details which undermine the headline benefits to creators. The law comes into force on 1st October.

In addition, the Austrian government has updated its law on film copyright following the Luksan judgement. The new law doesn’t have much for screenwriters and directors, confirming the presumption of transfer of rights to the producer. There are even concerns that the wording of the law may prevent authors from mandating CMOs to manage certain rights.

Finally, in Portugal, on 5th July, the revision of law concerning private copying levies came into force. The new law, which had an arduous path to adoption including an initial veto by the Portuguese President, extends the range of devices subject to private copying levies as well as the exceptions for payment for certain professional activities. The law also fixes the total value of levies that can be collected by rightsholders’ organisations at €15m while setting governance and transparency standards for these CMOs. Any levies above this figure go to the Portuguese cultural development fund to finance cultural initiatives. An excellent summary of the new law by Pedro Malaquias can be found on the blog of the Journal of Intellectual Property Law and Practice here.

On the issue of private copying, the UK government has now withdrawn its private copying legislation following the final High Court judgement in the judicial review of the regulations brought by BASCA, the Musicians’ Union and UK Music. It is unclear whether a new piece of legislation will be put forward. You can read a more detailed summary on the Kluwer Copyright blog here.

JT

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