The mediator underlined the need to clarify that copies made by end-users for private purposes do not cause any harm

António Vitorino, Mediator on private copying and reprography levies, presented its recommendations to the European Commission. He proposed to foster increased reliance on licences and contractual arrangements as the best way to ensure that right holders are properly remunerated for their creative efforts and investments; and he recommends measures aimed at reconciling disparate national levy systems within the Single Market.

The mediation process on private copying and reprography levies has concluded with the presentation of the Mediator’s Recommendations, António Vitorino, to EU Commissioner Michel Barnier. The first part of Mr Vitorino’s recommendations relates to new business models and refers to the need to clarify that copies that are made by end-users for private purposes in the context of a service that has been licensed do not cause any harm that would require additional remuneration in the form of levies. The second part of the Recommendations focuses on how to improve the functioning of levy systems in order to reconcile them with the free movement of goods and services in the Single Market. The mediation process on private copying and reprography levies started in April 2012.

In particular, Mr Vitorino recommends to collect levies in cross-border transactions in the Member State in which the final customer resides; shift the liability to pay levies from manufacturers and importers to retailers provided that the tariff systems are simplified and that manufacturers and importers are obliged to inform collecting societies about their transactions concerning goods subject to a levy; or, alternatively, establish clear and predictable ex ante exemption schemes for those operators that should in principle not bear liability; place more emphasis, in the field of reprography, on operator levies than on hardware-based levies; make levies visible for the final consumer; and ensure greater consistency with regard to the process of setting levies, notably by defining "harm" (i.e. caused to right holders by acts of copying made by virtue of the private copying and reprography exceptions) uniformly across the EU and by simplifying the procedural framework in which levies are set, guaranteeing its objectiveness and ensuring the observance of strict time-limits.

According to the European Commission, significant differences exist between Member States' levy systems, in particular with regard to the products subject to a levy, and to the level of tariffs. These differences affect the smooth functioning of the Single Market. Right holders have an exclusive right to authorise or prohibit the reproduction of their works (e.g. books, music, films) and other protected subject matter (e.g. phonograms, broadcasts).