Court of Justice Finds Distribution of a Signal by Means of TV Sets by a Hotel to its Customers Protected by Copyright

The SGAE (the body responsible for the management of intellectual property rights in Spain) took the view that the use of television sets and the playing of ambient music within the hotel owned by Rafael Hotels SA involved communication to the public of works belonging to the repertoire which it manages. Considering that those acts gave rise to breach of copyright, SGAE brought an action before the Spanish courts. The Audiencia Provincial (Provincial Court) of Barcelona referred the matter to the Court of Justice. In the decision of 7th Dec. 2006 (Case C-306/05), the Court pointed out, that the concept of ‘communication to the public’ had to be interpreted broadly in order to achieve the principal objective of the directive, that is to establish a high level of protection in favour, amongst others, of authors, allowing them to obtain an appropriate reward for the use of their works, in particular when these were communicated to the public. It was necessary to take into account the fact that, usually, hotel customers quickly succeed each other. As a general rule, a fairly large number of persons are involved, so that they may be considered to be a public, having regard to the principal objective of the directive. Therefore, if, by means of television sets thus installed, the hotel distributed the signal to customers staying in its rooms or present in any other area of the hotel, a communication to the public took place, irrespective of the technique used to transmit the signal. The private or public nature of the place where the communication takes place was immaterial.Source: ECJ Press Release 95/06, posted by Michael Wukoschitz)

Leave a Comment