Menu
Copyright levy for ISPs violates EU regulation, Belgian government says

Copyright levy for ISPs violates EU regulation, Belgian government says

There are other ways to prevent illegal downloads, the government said

A plan by the Belgian association of authors, composers and publishers to make ISPs pay copyright levies for offering access to copyright-protected material online violates the European e-commerce directive, a Belgian government spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The association, called Sabam, sued Belgian Internet access providers Belgacom, Telenet and Voo in May, demanding they start paying 3.4 percent of their turnover in copyright fees. The ISPs profit from giving users easy access to copyright materials by offering high speed Internet access, according to Sabam.

However, the Belgian government's FPS Economy (Federal Public Service Economy) agency, which has regulatory power, believes that Sabam is wrongly asking providers for compensation, said Chantal De Pauw, an agency spokeswoman.

While the FPS opposes any kind of illegal downloading, Sabam's solution penalizes Internet users and this is against the E.U.'s e-commerce directive, according to the authority. Providing Internet access is not the same as publishing protected works, the FPS said in a news release, adding that there are other ways to fight illegal downloads than posing levies on ISPs.

The FPS for example cooperates with the Belgian Anti-Privacy organization to achieve this, it said.

The FPS has ordered Sabam to stop its lawsuit, but the association has argued that they are operating within the bounds of the law, said De Pauw. FPS has therefore decided to sue Sabam in October to force it to stop its legal procedures against the ISPs, De Pauw said. If FPS wins the suit, Sabam faces penalties of up to €100,000 (US$137,600) per day if it continues its quest, she added. This procedure is still ongoing.

According to Sabam, however, it is for the courts to decide whether ISPs are contributing to the infringement of copyright- protected material by offering Internet connections, and it is up to the courts to decide whether the ISPs have to pay copyright levies, said Christophe Depreter, Sabam's director, in an emailed statement.

Because the Belgian government has a majority stake in Belgacom, the FPS has a clear conflict of interest in this case, he wrote.

"The FPS Economy clearly opts for the interests of consumers in the short term in contrast to the short and long term interests of our country's creative artists and their foreign colleagues," Depreter wrote.

FPS however said its interests are "clearly different" from the interests of the ISPs.

A date for oral arguments in the case between Sabam and the ISPs is planed for 2014, Depreter said.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags copyrightlegalintellectual propertySABAM

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News Innovation Awards 2018: meet the top performing partners

Reseller News Innovation Awards 2018: meet the top performing partners

Reseller News honoured the industry’s finest on a standout evening for the New Zealand channel, recognising the achievements of established partners, emerging players and innovative start-ups, in front of over 460 technology leaders in Auckland.

Reseller News Innovation Awards 2018: meet the top performing partners
Champagne Reception kicks off Reseller News Innovation Awards 2018

Champagne Reception kicks off Reseller News Innovation Awards 2018

More than 460 channel leaders came together to toast the top performers of the New Zealand industry, during the opening Champagne Reception at the Reseller News Innovation Awards 2018 - in association with Techbuyer.

Champagne Reception kicks off Reseller News Innovation Awards 2018
Chasing innovation: how Kiwi partners can create a new customer agenda

Chasing innovation: how Kiwi partners can create a new customer agenda

This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Rhipe and Microsoft - detailed a blueprint for customer success, outlining the new role of the modern-day partner and wider network in New Zealand.

Chasing innovation: how Kiwi partners can create a new customer agenda
Show Comments