COMPENDIUM CULTURAL POLICIES AND TRENDS IN EUROPE
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An amendment to the copyright law was adopted in 2015, whereby all storage media purchased are charged certain rates that are paid to and redistributed by the collecting societies.

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Austria/ 5.1 General legislation  

5.1.7 Copyright provisions

According to the Austrian Copyright Act, copyright arises with the creation of a work by its originator. No formal Act (notification or registration) is required in order to obtain copyright protection for a work. According to paragraph 1, such works must be "personal intellectual creations in the fields of literature, music, visual arts and film".

The Copyright Act regulates two different demands: the protection of intellectual property and the compensation and royalties for its use, enjoyment and consumption. Remuneration rights are usually managed by collecting societies that function as rightholders' trustees. They grant licences for the use of works, demand royalties and distribute the proceeds to the rights holders. 

Since the 1980s, a copyright fee on blank tapes has been charged by Austro Mechana, the collecting society for composers, lyrisists and music publishers as a flat rate compensation for exploitation rights in and to works of music. In recent years, the income declined sharply (from 15 million EUR in 2003 to about 6 million EUR in 2013), which indicates a shift of paragdigm in technology and consumer habits, a change from recordables to devices with integrated hard disks. Comparable to the fee on blank tapes is the copyright fee for reprography – for single devices and for (large-scale) operators. It is collected by the copyright collecting societies Literar-Mechana, VBK (copyright collecting society for visual artists) and Musikedition.

After long debates between different stakeholders, an amendement to the copyright law was adoptet in 2015: in the framework of the storage media remuneration (Speichermedienvergütung), all storage media are charged with certain rates that are paid to and redistributed by the collecting societies. This means that a part of the retail price of notebooks, tablets, desktop-PCs, mp3-players, SD memory cards, external hard drives, USB-sticks, smartphones, TV-recorders etc. goes to the collecting societies up to a limit of 29 million EUR. As with the copyright fee on blank tapes, half of the income goes to a fund to support social and cultural projects, while the other half of the amount is spread among the rights holders.

An author's claim to funds collected via public lending rights from public libraries is also part of the Copyright Law and administered by the authors' collecting society LiterarMechana. In 1996, an annual lumpsum payment between the federal government (116 276 EUR), the Federal Provinces (465 106 EUR) and the authors' rights society was contractually agreed.

"KommAustria" (see chapter 4.2.6) is responsible for overseeing the eight Austrian copyright collecting societies.

In 2005a resale right for artists was introduced in Austria as well. Under this right, artists receive between 0.25% and 4% of the profits from the resale of their work according to the appropriate price scale. The reimbursement amounts to EUR 12 500 at most. The right to claim, however, only exists for a sale price of over EUR 3 000, something the artists' interest-group representatives criticise as being much too high. Since 2010 the resale right has also applied to the resale of artworks of deceased artists for up to 70 years after their death.


Chapter published: 02-02-2016

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