CJEU : HIRING OUT OF MOTOR VEHICLES WITH RADIO RECEIVERS NOT A COMMUNICATION TO THE PUBLIC

The Decision of the Case No 753/18 by Court of Justice of the European Union

04 April 2020

According to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU” or “Court”), the hiring out of motor vehicles equipped with radio receivers does not constitute a communication to the public subject to payment of royalties.

In the case, the vehicle rental companies, “Fleetmanager” and “NB” offer hired vehicles equipped with radio receivers, in particular for periods not exceeding 29 days, which is regarded under national law as a short-term hire.

Stim which is the Swedish organisation which collectively manages copyright in music claimed that Fleetmanager, by making available to motor vehicle rental companies vehicles fitted with radio receivers for short-term hires to private clients, contributed to the copyright infringements committed by those companies, who have made musical works available to the public without being authorised to do so.

In the dispute between SAMI and NB, NB brought an action before the Swedish Patents and Market Court, seeking a declaration that NB was not required, on the basis of the sole fact that the vehicles which it hires to individuals and entrepreneurs are equipped with radio receivers and CD readers, to pay fees to SAMI for the use of sound recordings.

The court held that it is the case of the supply of a radio receiver forming an integral part of a hired motor vehicle, which makes it possible to receive, without any additional intervention by the leasing company, the terrestrial radio broadcasts available in the area in which the vehicle is located. That therefore differs from acts of communication by which service providers intentionally broadcast protected works to their clientele, by distributing a signal by means of receivers that they have installed in their establishment.

The Court therefore concludes that by making available to the public vehicles equipped with radio receivers, vehicle rental companies are not carrying out an ‘act of communication’ to the public of protected Works.

You can read the text of the decision here. 

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Zumbul Attorneys-at-Law

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