An update to the copyright levies law in Portugal, which will extend the compensation mechanism for paying authors, singers and performers whose content is copied onto digital devices, has caused controversy with retailers, according to pbbr founding partner César Bessa Monteiro.
The new law, which is currently being debated in parliament, will impose taxes on the sale of digital devices such as smartphones and tablets in the same way that CDs and DVDs are subject to such taxes.
While the proposed law is popular with organisations in Portugal concerned with protecting copyright, the introduction of such legislation has received a less favourable response among the public, according to Bessa Monteiro.
“Portugal is in a bad economic situation and the taxation levels are high – people are worried about increases in taxation and this is yet another,” Bessa Monteiro says. “Besides, it may be that people just buy smartphones for calls rather than listening to music.”
Pbbr partner Ricardo Henriques, whose specialisms include intellectual property and new technologies, says the new law has “worried trade associations” who believe that if the new tax pushes up the price of digital devices, Portuguese consumers will increasingly make such purchases in other European jurisdictions, which will have an adverse effect on the revenue of domestic retailers.
One of the main debates is who should be responsible for paying digital royalties to copyright-holders in Portugal. Henriques refers to the EU directive on this issue, which says member states are free to decide on who pays and the amount to be paid. While some European countries have stipulated such payments should be made by the government, and others that no payment is due, Portugal, like other European countries, has opted to make consumers pay the bill.
“Many people criticised the timing of the law because the EU Commission is planning to reconsider the existing legal framework,” Henriques says.