The Belgian copyright societies SACD and SCAM are to appeal against the decison by the Belgian court of first instance in Mechelen over payments made by the cable operator Telenet. It is believed other societies and associations involved will follow suit.
On April 12, the court ruled that Telenet does not have to pay any additional rights to collecting societies. “This is a “first level” decision;” a spokesperson for SACD and SCAM told Broadband TV News. “It is already certain that the author’s societies will go to the “second level” due to the fact that they can’t agree with the Tribunal who made legal mistakes and a pure theoretical decision in favour of the Mechelen based branch of Liberty Global.”
According to the two societies, no facts were discussed or even examined by the court. They claim three examples. “It is factually wrong that RTL-TVI is only broadcast to the cable networks. It is a mistake to speak about “direct injection”: we found a technical scheme, from Telenet itself, showing that the signals coming from the broadcasters are reworked, packaged in bouquets and retransmitted. The Court speaks about ARI contracts… which do not exist for the period discussed. The court did not even ask LG-Telenet to show the contracts.”
According to the societies “the court used the old idea promoted by cable companies since the 1970s that “cable is a transporter”, like telecoms for private communication. And it confused broadcasting over satellite and cable distribution EU regulations. This is exactly the “coditel case” known as “Le boucher” too.
The difference is that distribution of media services is now well defined in media legislations: it is the activity of companies who sell their own packages of radio-TV services to their subscribers. A distributor is different from a network operator that provides technical networks for professionals. The difference is easy to check. Distributors sell their services to the audience, network operators sell their services to broadcasters and distributors of media.”
The audiovisual author’s societies also point to the fact that Telenet collects a distribution fee for €121.77 per year plus copyright payments for each subscription of €32.52 per year. “This total of €354,867,000… not few pennies…. if this is not an exploitation of protected works, what means the basic principle of all copyright laws: give a share of the exploitation to the rights owners.”