Private copy levies draft law in Portugal

By EDRi · February 29, 2012

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Deutsch: [Portugal: Abgaben auf Privatkopien geplant |]

A draft law proposed by the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS) in December
2011 is intended to set broad, exponentially increasing levies on
digital storage devices with the support of collective rights entities
like the portugese authors guild (SPA) and a collective society for the
management of private copy (AGECOP).

Taxes are introduced on all digital storage equipment, from hard and
solid storage disks at 2 eurocents/GB and 2,5 eurocents/GB for every GB
over 1TB, memory cards at 6 eurocents/GB, to telephones and other
devices not specifically listed (like tablets or other devices yet to
enter the market) at 50 eurocents/GB.

The draft law also introduces a brand new inalienable and non-revocable
patrimonial right for a compensation for private copies made by
citizens. This would apply also on works licensed under Create Commons
and similar free culture licenses. Until now, private copy levies
couldn’t be leveraged for such works.

As a justification for the new private copy levies, AGECOP submitted to
the Portuguese MPs a study they had ordered allegedly about private
copying. But it turns out it was merely a study on what is copied by
people who have as an habit to copy from media. This study was made public
by an anonymous account on Twitter named TbCrioContaNova (aka
IAlsoCreateANewAccount), evidently inspired by the flurry of troll accounts
that have been recently created to disrupt the protest (known by the hash
tag #pl118) against the draft law text.

The Portuguese Parliament created a workgroup for this draft law
under the Culture Commission, which has held hearings with the
participantion of several stakeholders.

The opposition is an ad-hoc group of people discussing the project in public
forums rather than an organized entity behind an “obscure right wing
coordinating entity with an agenda against the socialist party and authors
and artists” (which is a frequent accusation from #pl118 proponents SPA and
AGECOP and the socialist party itself). Many blogging authors, citizens,
several associations like Creative Commons Portugal, EDRi-member ANSOL (free
software association), AEL (association for free software in education),
LEDMOV (a movement for freedom in the digital age), and several others
belong to this opposition group.

A petition was created against the draft law which met, in under a week, the
minimal requirements for the submition to the Parliament and which now
counts over 8200 subscribers.

The discussion of the draft law was extended by another 30 days, so that
more stakeholders may participate in the hearings. Now the draft law
has the explicit opposition of three political parties. But in case the
party in power (PSD) abstains from the vote, the draft law could pass only
with the votes of the PS.

As a final and worrying note, PSD has in its governing program the revision
of private copy levies and copyright law, the introduction of an anti piracy
law and has signed ACTA.

PS draft law on copyright levies (only in Portuguese)

Study on private copy by AGECOP (only in Portuguese)ório_Estudo_Intercampus.pdf

Public Petition against the draft law (only in Portuguese)

(Contribution by Rui Miguel Silva Seabra – EDRi-member ANSOL – Portugal)