EU regulators eye copyright levies in the cloud

Cloud storage services are proving a challenge to the private copying exception to European copyright law

By Jennifer Baker, IDG News Service |  IT Management

It seems unlikely that users' rights (or legal exception) to copy unlicensed content to the cloud will be revoked. Nominal levies are a possibility, but this would cause problems for free services such as GDrive, Skydrive or Dropbox. However, according to a source familiar with the strategy, it seems most likely that rights holders will be directly remunerated, "so there is probably no need to compensate anyone via a levy system if the compensation for the copy is inherently collected and distributed."

Digital rights activists were quick to condemn any possible extension of the copyright regime. "It's really quite amazing that the Commission put levies in the strategy in the first place as levies as they stand are an insult to the single market, and for the Commission to add another level of bureaucracy is incomprehensible," said Joe McNamee, of European digital rights group EDRi.

Pirate Party member of the European Parliament, Christian Engstrom, had this to say: "It's yet another example of how copyright legislation is completely out of touch with the reality and the times we live in."

Former European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Antonio Vitorino, is currently leading a working group on private copying levies that was set up in November 2011. The aim is to lay the groundwork for legislative action on private copying levies at the E.U. level in 2013 with a view to more harmonization across the E.U. His findings are expected by the end of the year.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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