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MusicTank paper puts the spotlight on the private copy levy

By | Published on Tuesday 31 March 2015


MusicTank has published a white paper called ‘Private Copying Of Music: A New Model For Artist Compensation’, part of the think tank’s new Future Thinking programme, which aims to put out thought-provoking papers written by postgrad students on the University Of Westminster’s Music Business Management course. The reports are intended to kick-start industry debate at an accompanying MusicTank event.

The private copying paper comes as the UK music community – led by UK Music, the Musicians Union and BASCA – pursues a judicial review over Parliament’s decision to introduce a private copy right here, but without compensation.

As previously reported, until recently in the UK it was technically speaking illegal to make private copies of CDs for personal use, a pointless bit of copyright law that was never enforced against the millions of people who routinely rip tracks off CDs and onto PCs and portable devices.

No one in the British music industry objects to the private copy right being finally introduced in the UK, but elsewhere in Europe the private copy exception to copyright has been accompanied by a levy, traditionally added to blank cassettes, which is passed back to the music community. But the UK private copy system has no such levy, a fact that those pursuing the judicial review says contravenes European law.

Of course, the problem with the levy system in the digital age is deciding what, exactly, to apply the levy to. This is an issue that has been discussed a plenty in European Union circles, and it’s the issue former Westminster student Sam Rudy considers in the new MusicTank paper.

Commenting on the report, the university’s Sally Gross told reporters: “Extensively researched, this paper positions a timely and convincing argument that a private copy levy, even in these days of streaming, should still make up a substantial part of music industry finance”.

You can download the paper here, while details of the June MusicTank event set to debate the topic are here.