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Collecting the private copy levy

What is private copying ?

Since 1985, when blank media (CD, DVD...) or equipment serving to copy music and images (digital audio players, USB memories sticks...) are purchased, part of the price of these media remunerates creators, publishers, performers and producers.

What is remunerated by private copying?

75% of the sums collected are directly paid to the creators, publishers and producers of the works copied, thereby contributing to the process of creation.

25% of the sums collected contribute to funding cultural initiatives and support festivals and theatres, or help young creators... In all, over 5,000 projects were funded in 2011.

Thus, the public participates directly in funding a large number of cultural events in a great diversity of genres and repertoires. The private copy levy funds festivals, both large and small, as well as theatre, concerts, street entertainment or puppet shows, art exhibitions, opera, rap, visual arts, multimedia creators, short films, creative documentaries, news reports, scriptwriting and circus arts... to suit all tastes, all ages, all over France

What the law says

The law guarantees the rights holders of a work (creators, performers and producers) exclusive control on its exploitation.
This implies that any reproduction or representation of a work or performance must have received the prior consent of its rights holders. The law does provide, however for exceptions, where prior authorisation is not necessary, in particular with the exception for “private copying.

” The commonly used expression “private copying” refers, according to the law (Art. L 122-5 2° of the CPI), to “copies or reproductions strictly reserved for the copyist’s private use and not intended for collective use” (see also Art. L 211-3 2° of the CPI for neighbouring rights). Case law defines the notion of private use as personal, non-commercial use, which excludes collective use of the copy (in a business, for example).
This means that a physical person is authorised to copy a work already on a device onto another device, on condition the purpose and use of this copy remains strictly personal.

This principle was reasserted during transposition into French law (law no. 2006-961 of 1 August 2006) of the European Directive of 2001 relative to authors’ rights in the digital age (1). On this occasion, details were provided on enforcement of the private copying exception, in particular:

  • . as for all exceptions provided for in Article L 122-5 of the the Intellectual Property Code, it is subject to respect for two conditions resulting from the international “three-step test” concept (2), i.e. not “jeopardising normal exploitation of the work,” or “causing unjustified harm to the authors’ legitimate interests” (Art. L 122-5 9° et al. 4 and L 331-9 of the the Intellectual Property Code).
  • . moreover, rights holders have the possibility of instituting technical measures for restricting the number of copies (Art. L 331-9 of the the Intellectual Property Code), with specifying a minimum number of copies. They must “however, do what is necessary for their implementation not to deprive beneficiaries of the exceptions listed in Article L . 331-8 of the CPI of their effective exercise,” including the private copying exception.

Finally, a law of 20 December 2011 draws the consequences of a decision of the Council of State of 11 July 2008, specifying that only copies made from legal sources open the right to remuneration for rights holders.

  1. (1) : European Directive of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the Information Society.
  2. (2) : Introduced by the Bern Convention of 1971 for the protection of artistic and literary works and taken up in the European Directive of 2001.