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EC smothers copyright levy reform

Reformers shift battleground to Court of Justice

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The European Commission has quietly iced plans to reform copyright levies, just days before they were due to go into effect.

The proposals would have allowed governments to dump levies on electronic media devices. The levies are collected by copyright groups to compensate artists for private reproduction of their work, and the reforms were vehemently opposed by artists and the French.

Reuters reports that a Commission spokeswoman told reporters, “"The Commission has decided more reflection is required on this complex issue. When it is ready, it will bring it on the agenda of the Commission."

This of course, makes perfect sense. If there’s one thing Brussels is good at, it’s taking even more time to reflect on things.

Less happy is the Copyright Levies Reforms Alliance which represents the markers of devices from photo copiers to MP3 players. It said that collecting agencies were themselves under scrutiny for failing to be transparent on how they distribute the cash they collect.

It predicted a flurry of complains to the Commission as companies force the issue of levy reform tackle what they see as “infringements” by certain member states. This will, it claims, eventually shift the issue into the European Court of Justice.

A spokesman for the Alliance blasted the decision, saying, “it is clear to industry that the Commission has abandoned any serious efforts to establish transparency, efficiency and fairness in the way these levies are set, collected and distributed, let alone its publicly stated ambition to promote ’better regulation’ in Europe.”®

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