Spain (In Response to Pressure from the US?) Is Apparently Reviewing the Right to Make Private Copies

The provisions of US copyright law concerning the simple act of making a copy date back to a time before the internet.

In the Old World (before home video tape recorders and digital files became commonplace) making a "copy" of a film required access to expensive professional labs and was often the first overt act in a criminal conspiracy to profit from the illegal distribution of a "pirated" copy.

When the US rules against copying (e.g., 17 USC § 106 - Exclusive rights in copyrighted works) were written, you could probably count on your fingers and toes the total worldwide number of non-commercial users making unpermissioned copies of a movie.

Back in the day, the copyright law outlawed even the most innocent of copying - assuming that only an evil mastermind would have the resources and intent to make a copy. The logic? Outlawing simple copying (even without any evidence of bad intent) was a justifiable approach that would not ensnare the innocent. In the old days, only bad guys made copies.

Then home video and the internet changed all that. With devices in the home that permitted copying of a televised film or a digital file for your own personal later use, the assumption that copiers were all evil geniuses or part of an international conspiracy fell apart.

But the law hasn't changed.

And... instead of adapting the laws to the new reality of non-thieving home copiers... the big content owners (e.g., the Hollywood movie studios and the recorded music business) have been pushing for stricter laws and more enforcement of the (archaic?) bans on home copying. This comes even in the face of growing evidence that the economic damage from file-sharing may have been exaggerated and that certain types of home "copying" might even be harnessed so that the content creators might profit from them: E.g., “Taken at face value, our findings indicate that digital music piracy does not displace legal music purchases in digital format. This means that although there is trespassing of private property rights, there is unlikely to be much harm done on digital music revenues... From that perspective, our findings suggest that digital music piracy should not be viewed as a growing concern for copyright holders in the digital era. In addition, our results indicate that new music consumption channels such as online streaming positively affect copyrights owners.”

Which brings us to Spain and what the US may be requiring of Spain...

As reported in a March 22nd, 2013 post to torrentfreak, in response to threats from the US "Spain is preparing to crack down on breaches of intellectual property rights... by limiting the right to private copy."

To comply with demands from the US (where government often does the bidding of big content owners), a leaked document suggests that private non-commercial copying in Spain might become much riskier in the near future.

Up to now, Spain has been levying a small amount on all blank media - and distributing that money to the content creators whose work has (presumably) been copied. While I'd like to see a less restrictive scheme (why should I pay the big studios a premium on every blank videotape or data-card I buy, if I am recording only my own original content?), this levy system - for a time - kept the lawyers from the MPAA and RIAA at bay. But now the big US content companies are apparently making some progress in Spain in their lobbying for even stricter rules which they have labelled as "reforms."

According to the March 22nd, 2013 torrentfreak report: "The reforms see the right to private copying only covering legally obtained media, meaning that in theory file-sharers could be prosecuted for their downloads from unauthorized sources. But that’s not all. Even though the blank media levy will be removed, compensation will still be paid to rightsholders. However, in future it will be the general Spanish tax-payer footing the bill, rather than just those doing the copying."

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