Today the President of the Portuguese Republic vetoed the new Private Copy Levies Law. This law that was proposed by the Portuguese Republic Government under pressure of the collective copyrights management entities, was very poorly written, and was the third attempt from in nearly as much years to update the current law, by governments and members of the Portuguese Parliament. The previous two where reppeled by popular opostion campaigns (with support of some associations).
As in previous atemps, the proposal faced major popular position lead by some bloggers, activists and associations of the Portuguese Free Software scene, the Portuguese National Association for Free Software (ANSOL), and the Free Education Association (Ensino Livre), also with significant support from the Association of Enterprises of the Electrical, Appliance, Fotografical and Electronics Sectors (AGEFE).
A big campaign as put together by both supporters and opposers of the law with the climax on major a national TV show debate. But the opposers managed to present a petition on the Parliament against the approval of the law. Never the less the law was voted and approved by the the government supported coalition (minus two deputies that voted against), with abstention of most deputies of the main opposition (13 voted against), and with votes against of the rest of the opposition.
The approval by the parliament was made even before the mandatory vote about the report about the petition, on what was called by the entire opposition has major betrayal of the fair expectations of the petitioners. Because the majority caved under the pressure of the rights management entities, that feared the Parliament had chance to read the report made by the First Commission (The Human Rights, and Constitutional Matters Commission of the Parliament).
After the approval the Free Education Association, announced that is preparing a complain to the European Commission, arguing that violations of the InfoSec Directive and disrespect of decisions of EU Justice Courts, could can't are motive for this law to be revoked by the Parliament. Others announced that would appeal to the President of the Portuguese Republic to vetoed the law.
Today in an unexpected turn-around (because the President is a member of the biggest party in government), the President announced that has vetoed the law, and presented the following explanation, that I'm translating (badly) to English (you can also read the official version in Portuguese):
«Madam President of the Parliament
Having received for approval has law on the March 11th of 2015 the Decree n.320/XII from the Parliament, that proceeds «to the second change, to the Law n. 62/98, from the 1st of September, that regulates the text of the 82nd article of the Authors Rights Code, about the private compensation dued related with the private copy». I've decided on the terms of 136th article of the Constitution, not proceed with the approval, with following rationale:
1 - On the regulation of the matter related with the «private copy» it's essential to reach a suitable balance between all concerned parties, mainly the right of the authors to be fairly compensated for the uses of their works, and the rights of the consumers to access on fair market conditions to goods and services of the digital economy.
2 - It's not by chance the debate about the «private copy», has the crossing the European Union and it's advisable to have a common regulation on this matter, to prevent asymmetries and disparities of market conditions, witch on a globalized market, might result in citizens to acquired digital goods and services abroad with prejudice for all involved parties, including the Portuguese authors.
3 - It's meaningful, that this debate has been reaching the level of the European Union legislative tools, and that European Union Court of Justice as produced jurisprudence on the matter.
5 - It also matters to consider the doubts about the equity and efficiency raised by the fact that the equipments are taxed independently of the purpose that is given by the consumers. And therefore can negatively impact the development of the digital economy, a area on witch the Country has some delays when compared with several of the European partners.
In this direction, considering the need for a new consideration of the several interests in presence with the aim of adopt legislation that is better suitable with the reality of the technological evolution, already verified e better conformity with the protection of author and consumer rights, I've decided to return to the Parliament, without approval the Decree n. 320/XII.
With a high consideration,
Palace of Bethlehem, March 31st of 2015
The President of the Republic
Anibal Cavaco Silva»