The return of the “digital canon” in Spain

Published on 10 July 2017

Directive 2001/29/EC determined the introduction of certain limits to intellectual property rights, inter alia, the patrimonial right to reproduction, which allows the holder to authorise or prohibit the production of copies of his work.

A limit was set by which natural persons could make copies of a work already published, provided that it was for their exclusive private use, and had no commercial intentions. In return, the European Directive introduced the obligation of Member States to ensure compensation to copyright holders. Thus, legislators from Member States had to establish measures at the national level to respond to this obligation.

Under these circumstances, in 2008 the Spanish legislator established a digital canon (canon digital) that was subsequently annulled in 2011 by the National Court. As of 2012, a measure was established that compensated the authors with the general funds of the State, a measure that was declared contrary to European Union law on 9 June 2016. Finally, after the controversy regarding the fulfilment of this obligation had reignited, the digital canon was re-established due to approval by the government, through the Decree-Law 12/2017.

It can be confirmed: the digital canon has returned.

By these means, Spain has established the same compensation method accepted in most countries of the European Union. The new model approved on 3 July by the government will replace the current model financed by the General State budgets with a model based on the payment of an amount paid by manufacturers, distributors of equipment and playback devices manufactured in Spanish territory or abroad for distribution or use in Spain. Canons range from 21 cents for a virgin DVD or 24 cents for a USB up to 1.10 euros per smartphone or 3.15 per tablet.