Belgium's Court of Appeal has ruled that domestic law recognizes the concept of private copying as an exception, which does not override copyright protection.


Belgium's Court of Appeal has ruled that domestic law recognizes the concept of private copying as an exception, which does not override copyright protection.

On Sept. 9, the Brussels-based appeal court declared that music copyright owners had the right to use copy-control technology to protect their works.

The legal decision follows a case filed at the Court of First Instance on Dec. 31, 2003, by Belgian consumer organization Testaankoop against four Belgian music companies: EMI Music, BMG, Sony Music [before the Sony-BMG merger] and Universal Music.

Testaankoop asked the court to stop the music companies from including anti-copying technology on physical CDs and to recognize the right to make copies for private use.

Testaankoop and its members claimed that the copy-protection system prevented some CDs from being played on certain types of hardware.

In May last year, the First Instance court ruled that private copying has to been seen as an exception rather than a right. The ruling came after the incorporation of European Union copyright directive in local law.

Testaankoop then appealed this judgment.

The Sept. 9 decision is applauded by the Belgian music industry, which has lost an estimated 40% of its turnover as a result of illegal downloads and copying.

"The music industry is happy to see that this ruling conforms both to the Belgian and European legislations," says Marcel Heymans, director of IFPI Belgium. "If Testaankoop had won the case, rightholders would have lost the option to exercise their exclusive right to the fullest."