The draft law on professional artists is a big step forward, Stanisław Trzciński, a cultural expert and member of the Creative Economy Research Center team at SWPS University, told PAP. He notes that the controversy over the reprographic fee has been fueled for years by the lobby of electronics importers.
Last week, the updated bill for professional artists was published on the website of the Central Government Legislation Centre. This is the end of the process of several months of legislative work, including: public consultations and inter-ministerial arrangements.
The costs of the proposed solutions do not weigh on the taxpayer because they are financed from the proceeds of the so-called reprographic tax and the blank media tax (the so-called Fair Culture Compensation) that has been paid since the mid-1990s by manufacturers and importers of electronic equipment. Such compensation has existed for decades in most European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Hungary.
Trzciński ruled that the controversies in the public sphere regarding the renewal of the reprographic fee “has been fueled for more than a decade by the industry lobby of distributors and importers of electronic devices”. “No one else is against this law, and those who are – for example a few famous Youtubers and journalists – are inspired by the same lobby,” he emphasized.
He added that “Polish creative circles, the only ones in Europe so affected by the lack of proper regulation, have been fighting for them for many years, the losses are already billions, and already two years ago we managed to work at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in the team supervised by Prof. Dorota Ilczuk, Ph.D., to count who would be subject to the operation of such a law”.
As he said, “the only socially solid but untrue argument against the reprographic fee is that it’s a new tax.” “This is not a new tax, nor a new levy – slogans like this are only meant to stir up a society that does not know the law, which would prevent the majority of MPs from supporting such a solution. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture has and National Heritage, in addition to updating the list of devices subject to the reprographic fee with the most modern ones, has spent half of this money on the pension and social system for about 60 thousand Polish artists, artists who use this system until now In this group, wealthy celebrities make up no more than 1 percent.” he pointed.
He noted that Poland is the only country in the European Union where smart devices are not subject to such a fee, so that, for example, in Germany the annual revenue from the reprographic fee is more than EUR 330 million, and in Poland only about 1.7 million euros.
He expressed support for these solutions, noting that he had “one caveat that smartphones won’t charge”. “This is the result of, among other things, protests by importers and manufacturers of electronic equipment, as well as the election promise of the President of the Republic of Poland. In my opinion, the lobbyists will not appreciate the fact that smartphones are not covered by the fee. They will continue to protest , and the compromise will be one-sided” – he ruled.
He stressed that even without the smartphone reprographic allowance, the act is “a big step forward.” “As part of the project, the new system will be financed with an amount of 400 million PLN per year. And this is many times more than the Polish artists receive from just one ZAiKS per year, after deducting about 75 percent of the royalties due to foreign authors” – summarizes Trzciński.
He pointed out that the draft law for professional artists does not prejudge “who is an artist and who is not”. “Participating in the system is voluntary” – he emphasized.
As he said, “the advisers in the drafting of this law were artists of different political views”. “This is a sensible law that has unfortunately been limited as part of the consultation, but it is certainly not the end of the fight for justice,” he added.
After advice from the Committee of the Council of Ministers for Digitization, the bill is forwarded to the Standing Committee of the Council of Ministers. He should be going to the Sejm in a few months.
The reprographic allowance, which has been in force in Poland since 1994, is a flat-rate allowance provided to artists by manufacturers and importers of electronic equipment, allowing the so-called fair personal use, i.e. personal use of works such as music, film, image or text , significantly increasing the demand for electronic devices. The fee is usually collected on devices such as computers, tablets, copiers, players or SmartTV, as well as on the so-called blank data carriers (CDs, discs, flash drives, memory cards). In Poland, the list of devices has not been updated for several years and the fee still covers tape recorders and video recorders, as well as audio and VHS cassettes. The fee is not a tax, its revenues do not go to the state budget or local self-governments.