The Circuit Court annulled the previous decision of the administrative court and ordered the private reproduction compensation to be paid to nine representative organizations of creative people for a period of five years, together with default interest, at approximately €3.5 million.
The amount awarded for creative people is compensation provided for By European Union law, but due to lack of Estonian regulation, has not been awarded for 2014–2018. An additional default interest of €656 per day is added until the compensation is paid in full.
Priit Lätt, senior lawyer of PwC Legal, representatives for the representative organizations for creative people, said that the lack of regulation in Estonia is in conflict with the European Union and does not account for the internet age, which has led creative people to seek for compensation through court.
Lätt said: "Authors, performers and phonogram producers must also have the right to demand protection of a work and a fair remuneration for the use of that work in the digital age."
He added that the constitution forces the state to ensure the survival of Estonian language and culture and the obligation means an active commitment to do something, including creating an efficient system to collect reproduction fees for works preserving Estonian culture.
Lätt added: "It is not plausible that the preservation of Estonian culture is ensured by fees much lower than EU averages. It is more plausible that the preservation is ensured by fees much higher than EU averages."
Lätt considers the circuit court's decision a positive one because the court increased state compensation compared to the administrative court's decision, and acknowledged the applicants' claim for default interest. "We're dealing with record amounts in the practice of Estonian state responsibility."
Lätt is disappointed in the circuit court's unwillingness to acknowledge the right of creatives to compensation higher than EU averages.
"The question is if the state actually will actually compensate the damage done to creative people over this long time, which will in turn ensure the preservation of Estonian culture."
According to him, even the government and ministries now admit that there is no efficient system to collect reproduction fees for creative works.
Lätt said that creative people demand statutory compensation now but the regulation should be amended in its entirety, moreover because the Supreme Court has also commented on it.
Lätt noted: "The years of ignorance of the government is incomprehensible to me because the Supreme Court acknowledged the need to amend the regulations in 2016 but the requirements are still not met."
He added that Estonia is currently the only EU country in which fair compensation for copies made for personal use in digital and smart environments is not ensured and must be sought through the court system.
According to a report from 2018 by the Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), the amount of fair compensation has been steadily increasing worldwide. In 2013-2017, an increase of 141 percent was noted. Among EU states, the average compensation for private copies was €1.42 per peson. That number in Estonia has been zero for the last six years.
Lätt said: "With this shameful figure we are the country in the world that pays the least copying fees to our creative people."
In the fall of 2018, nine representative organizations for creative people turned to the court to file a complaint against the government regarding the loss of fair compensation for the reproduction of the work for personal use in the period of 2014-2018: Estonian Authors' Society, Estonian Association of the Phonogram Producers, Estonian Performers Association, Estonian Audiovisual Authors Association, Estonian Composers Union, Association of Estonian Professional Musicians, Estonian Directors and Playwrights Association, Estonian Arists Association and the Association of Estonian Actors.
A decision of the administrative court made on November 13 2019 was challenged in the Circuit Court by both the representative organizations of creative people and the government.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste