Belgian consumers' watchdog group Test-Achats/Test Aankoop today lost the court case it launched against four of the major record companies for installing copy-control mechanisms in CDs that hinder pl

Belgian consumers' watchdog group Test-Achats/Test Aankoop today lost the court case it launched against four of the major record companies for installing copy-control mechanisms in CDs that hinder playback on car stereos and computers.

Test-Achats had sued EMI, Universal Music Group, Sony Music and BMG over their efforts to prevent consumers from making private copies of CDs, claiming such action is specifically authorized under Belgian law.

But the court threw out the case, saying consumers did not have a right to make private copies.

The IFPI welcomed the decision, saying that Test-Achats had misinterpreted Belgian law. "In today's ruling, the judge confirmed that there is no 'right' to a private copy under Belgian legislation and rejected Test-Achats' demands," it said in a statement.

Test-Achats claimed that private copying was authorized under a 1994 Belgian law that said authors cannot ban copies of sound or audiovisual works made within a family context.

The judgment echoes recent court cases and government proclamations in other countries. In the Netherlands, the Minister of Justice recently told the Parliament that copy-control protections on audio CDs do not as such raise problems for consumers, given that such discs are primarily designed to be played on CD players.

Last year a French court threw claims by consumers' body UFC-Que Choisir against EMI Recorded Music France. But the court ruled that the playback limitations of EMI's copy protection were "hidden" and ordered the company to reimburse the consumer on whose behalf the case was brought.

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