Belgian consumer group sues music industry

By EDRi · January 15, 2004

The Belgian consumer group Test Aankoop (in French: Test Achats) is starting a court case against 4 leading companies in the music industry. Test Aankoop, member of the European Consumer association BEUC, is suing Sony, EMI, BMG and Universal Music at a Brussels court for using technical protection measures on their music CDs that make it impossible for consumers to make private copies.

Test Aankoop says it has received many complaints from consumers that the music CD’s they have bought can not be played on computers and that it is impossible to make a private copy as allowed by the Belgian Copyright Act of 1994. The consumer group has gathered hundreds of consumer testimonials about specific music CD titles such as ‘My tribute to the King’ by Helmut Lotty (EMI); ‘Laundry Service’ by Shakira (Sony); ‘1 Giant Leap’ by Faithless (BMG) and ‘Greatest Hits’ by Bj√∂rk (Universal).

In the law suit Test Aankoop argues that consumers are granted the right to make private copies under Belgian law and that the music industry is compensated with a levy on blank recording media such as CD-R’s. Test Aankoop is asking the court in Brussels to order the music industry to stop selling music CD’s with technical protections.

Belgium has not yet implemented the EU Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC). It is not clear yet how the draft implementation, currently discussed in the Belgian Senate, will protect the right to make private copies.

In May 2003, 2 French consumer groups also started legal procedures against several major record companies in order to fight copy protection on CDs. EMI Music France was condemned for deception and ordered to print the following warning on copy protected CD’s: ‘Attention, this CD cannot be read by all players or car-radio’s.’ (see EDRI-gram issue 13, 16 July 2003).

Press release Test Aankoop in Dutch (01.01.2004)

Press release in French (01.01.2004)