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Padawan (SUMMARY)

by Giancarlo Frosio, PhD
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Case C-467/08

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Padawan SL

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v

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Sociedad General de Autores y Editores de España (SGAE)

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(Reference for a preliminary ruling from the

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Audiencia Provincial de Barcelona)

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(Approximation of laws – Copyright and related rights – Directive 2001/29/EC – Reproduction right – Exceptions and limitations – Private copying exception – Definition of ‘fair compensation’ – Uniform interpretation – Implementation by the Member States – Criteria – Limits – Private copying levy applied to digital reproduction equipment, devices and media)

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Summary of the Judgment

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1.        Approximation of laws – Copyright and related rights – Directive 2001/29 – Harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society – Reproduction right

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(European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29, Art. 5(2)(b))

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2.        Approximation of laws – Copyright and related rights – Directive 2001/29 – Harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society – Reproduction right

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(European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29, recitals 35 and 38 and Art. 5(2)(b))

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3.        Approximation of laws – Copyright and related rights – Directive 2001/29 – Harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society – Reproduction right

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(European Parliament and Council Directive 2001/29, Art. 5(2)(b))

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1.        The concept of ‘fair compensation’, within the meaning of Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, is an autonomous concept of European Union law which must be interpreted uniformly in all the Member States that have introduced a private copying exception, irrespective of the power conferred on the Member States to determine, within the limits imposed by European Union law in particular by that directive, the form, detailed arrangements for financing and collection, and the level of that fair compensation.

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(see para. 37, operative part 1)

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2.        Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that the fair balance between the persons concerned means that fair compensation must be calculated on the basis of the criterion of the harm caused to authors of protected works by the introduction of the private copying exception. It is consistent with the requirements of that fair balance to provide that persons who have digital reproduction equipment, devices and media and who on that basis, in law or in fact, make that equipment available to private users or provide them with copying services are the persons liable to finance the fair compensation, inasmuch as they are able to pass on to private users the actual burden of financing it.

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In that connection, given the practical difficulties in identifying private users and obliging them to compensate rightholders for the harm caused to them, and bearing in mind the fact that the harm which may arise from each private use, considered separately, may be minimal and therefore does not give rise to an obligation for payment, as stated in the last sentence of recital 35 in the preamble to Directive 2001/29, it is open to the Member States to establish a ‘private copying levy’ for the purposes of financing fair compensation chargeable not to the private persons concerned, but to those who have the digital reproduction equipment, devices and media and who, on that basis, in law or in fact, make that equipment available to private users or who provide copying services for them.

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(see paras 46, 50, operative part 2)

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3.        Article 5(2)(b) of Directive 2001/29 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society must be interpreted as meaning that a link is necessary between the application of the levy intended to finance fair compensation with respect to digital reproduction equipment, devices and media and the deemed use of them for the purposes of private copying. Consequently, the indiscriminate application of the private copying levy, in particular with respect to digital reproduction equipment, devices and media not made available to private users and clearly reserved for uses other than private copying, is incompatible with Directive 2001/29.

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On the other hand, where the equipment at issue has been made available to natural persons for private purposes it is unnecessary to show that they have in fact made private copies with the help of that equipment and have therefore actually caused harm to the author of the protected work. Those natural persons are rightly presumed to benefit fully from the making available of that equipment, that is to say that they are deemed to take full advantage of the functions associated with that equipment, including copying.

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(see paras 54-55, 59, operative part 3)

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Author Stats

Giancarlo Frosio, PhD

Senior Lecturer

CEIPI, Université de Strasbourg

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