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Private copy levies draft law in Portugal

29 February, 2012

This article is also available in:
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)



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