Copyright and related rights – AGCM opened an investigation on an alleged anti-competitive agreement in the Italian audio-visual market

On 2 February 2021, the Italian National Competition Authority (“AGCM”) opened an investigation against the Italian Society for Authors and Publishers (“SIAE”) – organisation responsible for the collective management of copyright in Italy – and various trade associations with a view to ascertain the existence of an anti-competitive agreement restricting competition in the market for the distribution of compensation for private copying (“CPC”) in the audio-visual sector.

CPC is the compensation provided for in Article 71-sexies and subsequent provisions of Law n. 633/1941 (so-called “Copyright Law” or “LDA” in Italian) in favour of those participating in the cultural industry chain in various ways (e.g.: authors, producers, artists, interpreters and performers) in exchange for the possibility of making private recordings/reproductions of works protected by copyright with suitable devices or equipment.

Before the introduction of the private copy, it was indeed not possible to record copies of protected works. In Italy, as in most parts of the European Union, this possibility has been granted, against a lump sum payment to be made by the person who manufactures or imports  recording equipment and blank media into the territory of the State, with a view to making a profit therefrom. The withdrawal takes place upstream but is unloaded downstream, thus representing a share of the price paid by the buyer to the retailer.

The amount of the CPC is currently established by a Ministerial Decree that determines the criteria on the basis of which the compensation due pursuant to art. 71-septies of the LDA should be calculated.

In Italy, according to Article 71-octies of the LDA, the SIAE collects this fee and allocates it to authors, producers and performers “including through their most representative trade associations”.

On the basis of the complaints received, the SIAE and the trade associations, also involved by virtue of agreements, would hinder the entry of new collecting societies, who intend to manage, on behalf of their members, the fee for the private copy, as well as the freedom of those entitled to choose the entity to be entrusted with the management of the CPC.

Therefore, the Authority intends to verify whether the contested behaviours are likely to affect the competitive capacity of the collecting societies in the liberalised markets of copyright, related rights and CPC management, and to maintain “[…] a system closed and anchored to monopolistic logics, with all the negative effects that the same brings in terms of competitiveness and quality of the services offered by collecting societies, and in terms of the loss of consumer welfare, as well as that of the authors, the Italian Association of Editors and producers of cinematographic, television and audio-visual works". For more information please find the AGCM’s decision (in Italian) here

For more information, contact Federico Marini Balestra and Lucia Antonazzi

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