Belgium, Finland and Sweden Fail to Implement Copyright Directive

Author:Mr Margherita Barié
Profession:McDermott Will & Emery

The ECJ handed down its decisions on Belgium (18 November 2004, C-143/04) Finland (9 December 2004, C-56/04) and Sweden (18 November 2004, C-91/04).

The 2001 Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC) on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society was due to be implemented by the Member States by 22 December 2002. Only Greece and Denmark met the implementation deadline. By July 2003 eleven Member States had still failed. When Member States have completely missed the deadline and continue to fail after the Commission has sent them "reasoned opinions" with new shorter deadlines, the legal procedure in these cases is quite straightforward. Finland did not give the Court any explanations. Belgium claimed the delay was due to legislative procedure caused by Federal elections and Sweden argued their legislative procedure was complicated since complete review of copyright law was needed. These excuses did not attract the sympathy of the Court. The result was identical in all three cases. The Court declared that the Member States had failed to communicate measures transposing into their national law the provisions of the Directive. The Member States were ordered to pay the costs.

The next step for the Commission is to ask the Court to impose daily fines on the relevant Member States until they comply. Cases against France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain...

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