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Supreme Court of Denmark

Distribution of public lending right remuneration not in contravention of EU law 

Case no. 432/2006

Lars Boes
The Danish Ministry of Culture

Lars Boes owns the copyrights to the AFA stamp catalogues. As the catalogues are lent from libraries, he receives public lending right remuneration once a year in accordance with the Danish Public Lending Right Remuneration Act. The distribution of public lending right remuneration between the persons entitled to receive such remuneration is based on reports from the libraries on the number of pages, to the extent that the books are registered in the libraries' computer systems.   It follows from the libraries' practice regarding yearbooks, the category to which the AFA stamp catalogues belong, that not all volumes are registered. This registration practice means that not all volumes of the stamp catalogues are included in the basis for the calculation of remuneration.  

For this reason, Lars Boes sued the Danish Ministry of Culture claiming that the Ministry should recognise his entitlement to payment of public lending right remuneration for all stamp catalogues lent from the Danish libraries. The question of whether the distribution of the public lending right remuneration was contrary to Danish law was made subject to separate hearing, cf. S. 253(1) of the Danish Administration of Justice Act. With regard to this part of the case, the High Court found that the Minister of Culture is not and has not been obliged to exercise his authorisation in S. 5(2) of the Public Lending Right Remuneration Act to order the libraries to report yearbooks by volume.

The Supreme Court only had to consider whether the distribution of public lending right remuneration was contrary to EU law.

The Supreme Court did not find any basis for concluding that the calculation of the public lending right remuneration received by Lars Boes in the years in question was contrary to the European Directive on rental right and lending right.

The Supreme Court based its ruling on the fact that member states according to the Directive are free to determine authors' remuneration for public lending of their works taking account of their cultural promotion objectives, and that Lars Boes every year had received a considerable amount, making him one of the 45 authors receiving the highest remuneration in 2002.

The High Court had reached the same conclusion.

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