2015 Amendment of the Austrian Copyright Act
- further adapt current copyright legislation to technological developments / the digital environment
- enhance legal certainty for authors, retailers of storage media, and users of copyright-protected works
- improve the income situation of artists and publishers i.a. by ensuring that remuneration for private copying levies applies to all relevant storage media
The 2015 amendment extends the application of the “blank tape levy” to any kind of storage media, including all data storage devices like notebooks, tablets and smartphones. This modification is in response to the current Austrian legal situation, which allows the reproduction of protected works for personal and private use (right of private copying), as long as the copyright holder receives fair remuneration in return.
In practice, all storage media are charged at certain rates that are paid to and redistributed by the collecting societies. This means that part of the retail price of notebooks, tablets, desktop-PCs, mp3-players, SD memory cards, external hard drives, USB sticks, smartphones, TV recorders, etc. goes to the collecting societies. As with the traditional blank tape levy, half of the income goes to a fund to support social and cultural projects, while the other half of the amount is distributed among the rights holders.
The amendment provides legal certainty by making clear that the right to remuneration for private copying also covers digital storage media. This puts the artist in an improved and more stable income situation.
Moreover, the amendment defines clear criteria for determining rates, aiming to facilitate negotiations on the level of remuneration: the levy must not exceed six percent of the typical price level. It also introduces a ceiling of EUR 29 million per year for all collected levies, including levies on reprography fees, for the period of 2016–2019. Furthermore, it is ensured that artists actually receive the collected money.
Additionally, this amendment establishes stricter transparency rules for collecting societies, including annual reports on the extent and use of the revenues collected through the storage media levy by the collecting societies’ supervisory authorities. Further changes brought about by the amendment that entered force on 1 October 2015 include regulations on the right to subsequent exploitation by science and publishers as well as clear rules regarding digital inter-library loans.
- decrease in lawsuits on remuneration claims
- provision of legal certainty via consensual determination of remuneration rates
- improvement of artists’ income situation
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