Phonograms and equitable compensation – an EU Court decision

The European Court has ruled in case  C‑147/19 Atresmedia Corporación de Medios de Comunicación S.A. v Asociación de Gestión de Derechos Intelectuales (AGEDI), Artistas Intérpretes o Ejecutantes, Sociedad de Gestión de España (AIE).

On 29 July 2010, AGEDI and AIE brought an action before the Commercial Court, Madrid, Spain against Atresmedia seeking payment of compensation in respect of acts of communication to the public of phonograms published for commercial purposes, or reproductions of those phonograms, carried out between 1 June 2003 and 31 December 2009 via the television channels operated by Atresmedia, and for the unauthorised reproduction of phonograms in connection with those acts of communication to the public.

Since that action was declared unfounded by the Commercial Court, Madrid, AGEDI and AIE brought an appeal against that court’s judgment before the Provincial Court, Madrid, Spain, which set aside that judgment and upheld their application in its entirety.

Atresmedia brought an appeal on a point of law before the referring court against the judgment of the Provincial Court, Madrid.

The referring court notes that the appeal relates exclusively to whether the communication to the public of audiovisual works carried out by Atresmedia via its television channels gives rise to the right to the single equitable remuneration provided for in Spanish law in Article 108(4) and Article 116(2) of the LPI, which correspond, in EU law, to Article 8(2) of Directive 92/100 and to Article 8(2) of Directive 2006/115. In particular, that court states that it falls to it to determine whether, from the moment when a phonogram published for commercial purposes, or a reproduction of that phonogram, has been incorporated or ‘synchronised’ in an audiovisual recording containing the fixation of an audiovisual work, the performers and phonogram producers concerned may demand that single equitable remuneration.

The referring court adds that since AGEDI and AIE claim compensation from Atresmedia in respect of the communication to the public of audiovisual works carried out between 1 June 2003 and 31 December 2009, both Directive 92/100 and Directive 2006/115 are applicable rationae temporis to the main proceedings.

In those circumstances the Supreme Court, Spain decided to stay the proceedings and to refer the following questions to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling:

‘(1)  Does the concept of the “reproduction of a phonogram published for commercial purposes” referred to in Article 8(2) of Directives 92/100 and 2006/115 include the reproduction of a phonogram published for commercial purposes in an audiovisual recording containing the fixation of an audiovisual work?

(2) In the event that the answer to the previous question is in the affirmative, is a television broadcasting organisation which, for any type of communication to the public, uses an audiovisual recording containing the fixation of a cinematographic or audiovisual work in which a phonogram published for commercial purposes has been reproduced, under an obligation to pay the single equitable remuneration provided for in Article 8(2) of the aforementioned directives?’

The Court’s decision:

Article 8(2) of Council Directive 92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property and Article 8(2) of Directive 2006/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property must be interpreted as meaning that the single equitable remuneration referred to in those provisions must not be paid by the user where he or she makes a communication to the public of an audiovisual recording containing the fixation of an audiovisual work in which a phonogram or a reproduction of that phonogram has been incorporated.

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