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Senate passes amendment to copyright law

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Prague, March 9 (CTK) – The Senate, the upper house of Czech parliament, approved on Thursday an amendment to the copyright law under which copyright fees can be maximally raised by inflation, while the Culture Ministry would have to agree with a proposal for their higher rise.

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, passed the amendment in January. It is yet to be signed by President Milos Zeman.

The amendment reacts to the announced plan to raise copyright fees by up to 50 percent, which the Copyright Protection Association (OSA) and Intergram, an independent society of performers and producers of phonograms and audiovisual fixations, proposed.

The collective copyright administrators justify the planned rise by an increased pressure of similar foreign copyright associations.

Critics consider the demands of collective copyright administrators exorbitant since they would extremely burden municipalities, restaurant operators and hoteliers.

Association of Authors and Interpreters head Jiri Vondracek sharply criticised the passage of the amendment.

The Senate approved it in the version passed by the Chamber of Deputies without any proposed changes.

Some Senate committees and its media commission recommended that parts of the bill be deleted or modified, including the provision that the Anti-trust Office (UHOS) would have to give consent to a steep rise in copyright fees exceeding inflation in the past three years more than three times.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) called the proposed up to 50-percent rise in copyright fees exorbitant last year and expressed support for municipalities’ protests over it.

However, he pointed out that neither the government nor the Culture Ministry can correct these fees.

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