Belgium: draft government bill on reprography could threaten the future of authors and publishers

A draft bill has been presented by the Belgian Government on 9 June to amend the legal framework for reprography. According to Reprobel, the Belgian RRO in membership of IFRRO, the bill, if it is not amended, would be a “serious threat to the future of authors and publishers”.

In the aftermath of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s decision in HP Belgium v Reprobel, it is foreseen in the bill that the remuneration paid to publishers would be maintained for the photocopying of their works, under a new remuneration right that would be distinct from the remuneration to authors and the fair compensation paid to them; but publishers would be excluded from other remuneration schemes such as those for private copying or for the exception for copying in the education.

In addition, the reprography scheme would not be extended to cover print outs, and would not apply anymore to professional uses, which would result in authors and publishers losing millions of euros compared with what used to be distributed to them. 

Finally, the bill would implement a new exception for education with a broad scope, covering any type of use (analogue or digital) and not limited to the reproduction of short fragments of works.

In a press release, Reprobel acknowledged the full solidarity of authors and publishers in Belgium who are advocating together to be better compensated for the copying of their works, and shared its hope that the bill be amended to take into account the legitimate interests of authors and publishers.

Find the draft bill here together with an explanatory statement here, the Reprobel press release here, and a summary of the bill here (all available in Dutch and in French).