IEFBE 1871

Les juges lettons ont ménagé un juste équilibre dans leurs décisions relatives à des droits d’auteur sur des œuvres musicales

Cour eur. D.H. 12 juilliet 2016, application no. 562/05; IEF 16113; IEFbe 1871 (AKKA/LAA tegen Letland)
Dans son arrêt de chambre rendu ce jour dans l’affaire SIA AKKA/LAA c. Lettonie la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme dit, à l’unanimité, qu’il y a eu : Non-violation de l’article 1 du Protocole no. 1 (protection de la propriété) à la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme, et Non-violation de l’article 6 § 1 (droit à un procès équitable) de la Convention.

3. The applicant organisation alleged violations under Article 6 and Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention on the grounds that the domestic courts had restricted the copyright of authors whose musical works were collectively managed by the applicant organisation.

77. Firstly, before laying down the royalty rate, the domestic courts endeavored to provide the parties with time to reach an agreement during the court proceedings. Since it was not possible, the domestic court relied on the fact that in the first set of proceedings the parties had already reached an agreement on the method for calculation of the royalty rate (see paragraph 14 above). In the second set of proceedings the domestic court referred to the method used in other valid licence agreements concluded between the applicant organisation and other broadcasters, and the rate set by the courts was not considerably lower than the rate negotiated by the parties in their previous licence agreement (see paragraph 18 above).
78. Secondly, observing the interests of the copyright holders, the national courts had established that in the circumstances where the parties in principle were willing to enter into an agreement, banning the broadcast of the music would not suit the best interests of copyright holders, that is to say to receive the maximum benefit from the oeuvres.
79. Thirdly, as far as the courts’ orders for the parties to enter into a licence agreement was concerned, the measure was limited in scope and time. In the first set of proceedings the royalty rate was set for a period of three years, which had already been agreed by the parties. Whereas in the second set of proceedings the domestic court took note of the scope of the claim and the counterclaim and imposed on the parties merely a general obligation to conclude a licence agreement. Accordingly, the parties were not prevented from renegotiating the rate (contrary to, for example, Anthony Aquilina v. Malta, no. 3851/12, 11 December 2014, which concerned restrictions on fixing a rent over an extended period of time). It follows that the authorities had minimally restricted the right of the applicant organisation to renegotiate terms and conditions with the defendants and other broadcasting companies.

80. The foregoing considerations are sufficient to enable the Court to conclude that the Latvian authorities did strike a fair balance between the demands of the general interest and the rights of the applicant organisation.

Questions to the parties:

1. Can the applicant organisation be considered a victim of a violation under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 in relation with Article 6 of the Convention, within the meaning of Article 34 of the Convention?
2. In the light of the authors’ exclusive rights to negotiate the use of their work, has there been an interference with the applicant organisation’s peaceful enjoyment of possessions, within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 by the national courts decisions in the proceedings concerning the Radio SWH and Latvijas Radio?
2.1. Was it in accordance with the conditions provided for by law, within the meaning of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1?
2.2. If so, was that interference necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest?
3. Did the applicant organisation have a fair hearing in the determination of the civil rights in accordance with Article 6 § 1 of the Convention? In particular, was the principle of equality of arms respected as regards the extension of the limits of the counter-claim in the Latvijas Radio proceedings?