An unmitigated reverse for the electronics and software industry. By deciding to postpone the adoption of a recommendation on charges on recording equipment for private copying to an unspecified date, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has fired a warning shot across the industry's bows. The initiative, announced by Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy in October 2005 with a view to remedying what he regards as an obstacle to the proper functioning of the internal market, inspired the industry to set up the Copyright Levies Reform Alliance (CLRA). Its views were indeed largely taken up in the project, which led to accusations being levelled at the Commission by authors and creators. The French delegation in the Council, meanwhile, led calls for an exchange of views on the topic prior to launching any initiative. A recommendation is not binding but can be cited by plaintiffs before national courts. A large number of cases involving societies of authors and companies in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain are currently before the courts.

"This reform is now dead," CLRA spokesperson and Director-General of the European digital technology industry group EICTA Mark MacGann indicated at a press conference on 13 December, adding that "even if the project is relaunched, it will never be resolved" under this Commission. A diplomatic source confirmed as much to Europolitics, emphasising that several commissioners, including Culture Commissioner Jan Figel, oppose the project. MacGann believes the fault lies with France, whose Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, urged Barroso, in a letter dated 5 December, "to intervene in such a way that adoption of the recommendation [...] might be deferred, in order to launch a genuine debate notably with member states within the Council". The prime minister notably highlighted the emotions running high in the artistic community, arguing that private copying levies represent legitimate compensation for the exception for private copying to which consumers remain very attached.

France is not, however, alone in having expressed...

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