Reasons for Vitorino’s recommendations on private copying and reprography levies: specificities with regard to the reprography exception

The private copying exception and the reprography exception follow different approaches. Whereas the scope of the private copying exception is limited to reproductions that serve a specific purpose (“for private use”), the reprography exception covers reproductions on a specific medium (paper), using a specific method (“any kind of photographic technique”). Literally taken, reproductions on paper for private use are covered by both exceptions. The Directive does not regulate the relationship between the two exceptions.

Reprography levies can, on the basis of the current legal framework, be collected regardless of whether a good is sold to a private or a non-private user. In reprography, there is no need to distinguish between these two types of users. Some stakeholders in the field of reprography are particularly concerned about shifting the liability to pay levies to the retailer’s level.

Similarly as argued by some in the field of private copying, they think that such a shift would create additional administrative costs, and would make it impossible to rely on framework agreements between organisations representing manufacturers and importers and organisations representing rightholders. They also stress that in reprography there is no need to ensure the non-applicability of levies to professional users (via shifting the liability to pay levies to the retailer’s level).

It does not appear to be very efficient to collect levies partly at the level of manufacturers and importers and partly at the level of retailers. Therefore, the recommendation is to shift the payment liability to the retailer’s level also extends to reprography.

Several Member States operate a so-called dual system, consisting of hardware based levies (as in private copying) and operator levies. Operator levies are usually based on contractual agreements between collecting societies and organisations heavily engaged in reprographic copying (e.g. the operators of copy shops, universities, libraries, etc…). Operator levies pose no obstacle to the free movement of goods and services and are therefore, from an Internal Market perspective, clearly preferable to hardware-based levies. Some stakeholders point out that some reproductions cannot be covered by operator levies, for example when a private person makes a paper copy with the help of his or her own copy machine.

Place more emphasis on operator levies compared to hardware-based levies in the field of reprography.