Almodovar calls on EU to preserve copyright levies

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Almodovar calls on EU to preserve copyright levies19.10.2006 – 09:17 CET | By Helena Spongenberg
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Movie director Pedro Almodovar and singers Victor Manuel and Paloma San Basilio are calling on the European Commission to keep copyright levies on electrical goods like mp3 players that help fund the work of artists and performers.

The call concerns the one-off tax paid by consumers when they buy, for example, mp3 players or scanners, for the copyright of the artist whose work is reproduced by the electrical device.

Artists say their income and the flourishing of cultural life are dependent on these levies.

Under the slogan 'culture comes first', Mr Manuel was in the European Parliament on Wednesday (18 October) representing the group of Spanish artists who warned that cutting the taxes could have negative effects on European culture.

“We are talking about a levy that compensates the authors, artists and producers for the loss of income that the musical and audio-visual products can do by making copies,” Mr Manuel told MEPs.

“The private copy is, in fact, an exception to the right that the creator has of deciding where and how his or hers artistic creation is used,” the Asturian singer explained.

But the electronics industry argues that the levy – introduced in the 1960s – is outdated in a time of digital rights management (DRM) technology, which technically limits the number of times a product – such as a CD – can be copied by buyers.

The copyright levies sector is worth an estimated €1.6 billion a year in the EU and rising, according to the software lobby BSA which wants to get rid of the system.

Artists react to planned EU legislation
The European Commission is preparing a fresh recommendation, due in November, on whether to reform a 2001 copyright directive, which would allow national governments to get rid of the levy on electronic products, ranging from mobile phones and mp3 players to photocopy machines.

“I am concerned that the proposed reforms may threaten this source of remuneration as well as the financing of many cultural activities that contribute to the creation and promotion of European works,” the Oscar-winning Mr Almodovar said in a written statement in which he also excused his absence due to a promotional tour in the US for his latest movie “Volver”.

“Our soul is being taken away to the benefit of multinationals, and Europe cannot allow this,” said singer Paloma San Basilio, who was also in the parliament calling on the EU to protect the rights of authors and Europe's culture.

“The artist is losing control of his or her work,” she added.

The culture comes first campaign – la cultura es lo primero – by the Spanish collecting society SGAE is also supported by the BAFTA-winning French film director Bertrand Tavernier, the Belgian Palm d'Or-winning film director brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne and Italian/Romanian singer Roman Vlad.


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