On 14, Feb 2020 | In News @en | By Lisa Schmidt
The recent court ruling No 88 of 5 February 2020 of the French Court of Cassation has confirmed the obligation to pay copyright levies also for foreign sellers. This is by no means a new development in the field. However, the ruling once again has proved that the question of the obligation in cross-border trade in goods repeatedly fades into the background and that this is a legally complex matter. Otherwise, the Luxembourg-based storage media supplier, which also distributes its products in France, would probably not have contested the judgment in favour of the French collecting society Copie France before the Court of Cassation.
There is a general consensus throughout Europe on the question of the obligation: when products subject to levies are sold from abroad directly to end consumers, e.g. via cross-border online trade, the levies for these products must be paid in the country of the end consumer. However, different products are usually subject to different taxes there than in the retailer’s country. This makes it difficult for online seller, platforms and shops to obtain an overview of the product-related obligations in detail. In addition, in some countries the obligation is not sufficiently justified by law. Where this is the case, the responsible authorities refer to the Opus ruling of the European Court of Justice from 2011.
In the Opus ruling (ECJ C 462/09), the European Court of Justice stated that the Member States must also ensure that copyright levies are paid when products subject to levy are purchased from abroad. This is a binding interpretation of the European law, and the national competent authorities and courts must therefore refer to it.
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