19 January 2015 - Dutch State pays Stichting Thuiskopie 33.5 million euros

Dutch State pays Stichting Thuiskopie 33.5 million euros

Stichting de Thuiskopie (the Dutch collecting society for private copying levies) and the State of the Netherlands have ended their long-standing dispute about the phasing out of the statutory regulation on home tape levies  (thuiskopieregeling). Stichting de Thuiskopie has withdrawn its claim for damages for the years 2007 – 2012 and the State will pay the foundation the sum of 33.5 million euros.

In the Netherlands it is allowed for private individuals to make copies of works that are protected by copyright or related rights (e.g. books, films or music albums), for personal use or study. Rights holders cannot, therefore, demand remuneration for this use. The statutory regulation on home tape levies compensates this. A levy that varies from a few cents to several euros applies to objects that are used for the reproduction of works so that these works can be viewed or listened to. Stichting de Thuiskopie collects these levies and distributes them to organisations of rights holders, such as copywriters, composers, directors and numerous others. In 2007, the government decided not to add any new objects to the home tape levy regulation applicable at that time. In other words, the decision was taken to ‘freeze’ it. Although the levy on blank CDs and DVDs remained in place, for many years the scheme did not apply to other objects, such as MP3 players, computer memories and smart phones. Due to the fact that sales of blank CDs and DVDs decreased whilst those of devices not subject to the levy increased, the amount of compensation collected annually by Stichting de Thuiskopie fell every year. Failure to change the policy would have resulted in the rights holders receiving hardly any compensation for home copying and, eventually, nothing at all. With the assistance of Willem Roos, Koos van den Berg and Joep Meddens, Stichting de Thuiskopie issued proceedings against the State to ‘de-freeze’ the home tape levy regulation and to have the State pay the lost fees in the form of damages. Stichting Norma, which receives the fees intended for actors and musicians from Stichting de Thuiskopie and then pays those fees to the actors and musicians, had already issued proceedings. At the beginning of this year, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the freezing of the home-copy scheme was indeed unlawful.  The State had by then decided to impose the levy on new objects as of 1 January 2013. For example, smart phones, laptops and tablets are now subject to levies of several euros. From 2015 onwards, e-readers  are added to this list. Following the decision of the Dutch Supreme Court, the State and Stichting de Thuiskopie started negotiating a settlement. This has led to a settlement under which Stichting de Thuiskopie will receive 33.5 million euros from the State.Willem Roos, one of the negotiators, says: ‘This is excellent news, particularly around the festive season, for all those composers, songwriters, photographers, scriptwriters, directors, journalists and visual artists and many others who, in recent years, have not received fair payment and who will now start receiving money.’