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Monday, 18 January 2016

New CJEU reference on TV and radio broadcasts ... in hotel rooms

From hotel rooms ...
Will the Court of Justice of the European Union ever get tired of references for a preliminary ruling on the right of communication to the public?

It's probably not the right time to ask, as a brand new reference on this very topic has just been made from Austria (although this time not in relation to the InfoSoc Directive), as 1709 Blog friend Axel Paul Ringelhann (Ringlaw) explains.

Here's what Axel Paul writes:

"C-641/15 - Verwertungsgesellschaft Rundfunk (VGR) is yet another case before the CJEU concerning communication to the public. 

As can be inferred form the question referred to the CJEU it appears that VGR, the Austrian collecting society managing rights for broadcasting organisations, has taken legal action against an operator of a hotel for infringement of broadcasting rights.

On 2 December 2015 the Vienna Commercial Court lodged a request for a preliminary ruling with the CJEU concerning  interpretation of Article 8(3) of Directive 2006/115/EC on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property (Rental and Lending Rights Directive). 

The referring court wants to know whether the criterion of ‘payment of an entrance fee’ within the meaning of Article 8(3) Rental and Lending Rights Directive is satisfied where

-        separate hotel rooms are equipped with TV-sets and the hotel operator distributes the signal of TV and radio programs, capable of being seen or heard by means of these apparatus (‘hotel room TV’), and

-        the hotel operator charges payment for rooms per night (‘room price’), which also includes the use of a TV-set and TV and radio programs, capable of being seen or heard by means of these apparatus.

... to spas ...
One might wonder why, once again, the CJEU has to deal with communication to the public and TV in hotels (think of the CJEU judgments in SGAEPPIOSA)

As opposed to former cases, which were either based on Article 3(1) InfoSoc Directive (SGAEOSA) or on Article 8(2) Rental and Lending Rights Directive (PPISCF), the case at hand addresses the question of communication to the public under the angle of the broadcaster’s signal right, as provided by Article 8(3) Rental and Lending Rights Directive (but see also Rome Convention Article 13(d)).

The broadcaster’s rights is a very contentious topic in Austrian copyright law. 

Unfortunately the recent copyright reform which entered into force on 1 October 2015 and established, inter alia, levies on storage media, open access clause for scientific papers, and further limitations and exceptions with regard to educational purposes, did not bring much legal certainty as regards this other area of law.

Here's the original version of the questions in German.
... and back to hotel rooms

Ist das Tatbestandsmerkmal „gegen Eintrittsgeld“ des Art 8 Abs. 3 der Richtlinie 2006/115/EG des Europäischen Parlaments und des Rates vom 12.12.2006 zum Vermiet- und Verleihrecht sowie zu bestimmten dem Urheberrecht verwandten Schutzrechten im Bereich des geistigen Eigentums erfüllt, wenn

- in den einzelnen Zimmern eines Hotels TV-Geräte bereitgestellt sind und vom Hotelbetreiber das Signal diverser Fernseh- und Hörfunkprogramme durch diese wahrnehmbar gemacht wird ("Hotelzimmer-TV"), und

- vom Hotelbetreiber für die Benutzung des Zimmers (mit "Hotelzimmer-TV") ein Entgelt für das Zimmer pro Nächtigung ("Zimmerpreis") verlangt wird, das auch die Nutzung des TV-Geräts und der dadurch wahrnehmbaren Fernseh- und Hörfunkprogramme mitumfasst?"

Thanks so much Axel Paul!

If you wish to comment on this case, then you have time until 28 January 2016 to let the UK Intellectual Property Office know what you think. You can email your views to policy@ipo.gov.uk.

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