European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services
Brussels, 14 February 2008
I am relaunching today a consultation process on copyright levies. These are the levies which are applied in 24 Member States to compensate rightsholders from losses accruing due to private copying of protected works.
I suspended work on this issue over a year ago since it was clear there was no hope at the time of finding a common way forward.
With the passage of time I believe it should be possible for all stakeholders to come to this debate with an open and constructive attitude.
In relaunching this discussion let me make one thing clear: It is not my intention to question the entitlement of rightsholders to receive compensation for losses due to private copying. This is enshrined in Community law and I have no intention of proposing a change to this legislation.
Member States are given the right to set how compensation for private copying is applied in their territory. In most Member States, this compensation is raised through the imposition of levies on items such as printers, hard disks, MP3 players, blank CDs, mobile phones etc. There is little coherence between Member States as to how they apply these levies, or the level of the levies.
What I would like to see coming out of this consultation process are ideas and a willingness to relate the level of levies to the loss suffered through private copying.
For example, a computer printer in one Member State has a levy of €70 imposed on it. Levies on a 4 gigabyte MP3 player, for example, range from zero in one Member State to over €15.00 in another. What should be the correct level to compensate for the loss due to private copying?
There are no easy answers. That is why I want all stakeholders to come to this discussion with a willingness to find workable solutions.
Following the consultation period which will end on 18 April, I intend to hold a public meeting in June to see if common ground can be found among all stakeholders.