Court ruling adds uncertainty to Latvian copyright practise


Kurzeme Regional Court decision put under doubt the need for obtaining a licence for radio broadcast in public places from the agency representing the rights of the authors – Copyright and Communication Consulting Agency / Latvian Authors Association (AKKA/LAA).

The court of first instance imposed a fine on a certain café for the public broadcast of a radio programme without the licence of AKKA/LAA, which represents the interests of authors. The company allegedly had the permit of the Latvian Association of Performers and Producers (LaIPA). The defendant appealed the imposed fine. The court of second instance resolved that, in the case under review, it was the relevant radio programme itself that used the authors’ work and ensured public performance thereof, which means that the user of the author’s work is not café, but rather the radio. The court applied the following argumentation – the café is not scheduling the repertoire broadcasted by the radio and is not in the position to provide information regarding authors or titles of broadcasted works, but it could do it, if it would itself broadcast a certain phonogram on site.

The Copyright Law does not impose an obligation on the user of neighbouring rights to request permit from the representative of copyright holders. The judgment states that the representative of the property rights of neighbouring right-holders is LaIPA (representing performers, phonogram producers and also broadcasting), whereas the operator of public premises (in this case – café) is the user of the neighbouring rights. Subsequently, the court decided that the permit shall be obtained from the representative of the owners of neighbouring rights.

The particular court judgment contributes to the uncertainty prevailing in Latvia with respect to the use of copyright / neighbouring rights and determination of tariffs for the use thereof. There have already been several disputes in the public domain between collective representation organisations of copyright / neighbouring rights, producers of radio / TV programmes and cable tv operators regarding the scope, tariffs and other conditions for the use of rights. Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association has addressed the Ministry of Culture with proposals for amending the Copyright Law.

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