The advocacy organization Kiinteistöliitto is concerned that the change in the law may bring new additional costs to a large number of Finnish housing associations.
The parliament is discussing the government’s motions, which intend to make changes to the Copyright Act and the Act on Electronic Communication Services.
The changes to the law are to incorporate the provisions of the EU Copyright Directive and the Network Broadcasting Directive into Finnish legislation.
Kiinteistöliitto, which gave a statement about the proposal to the parliamentary transport and communications committee last week, is worried about the project’s consequences.
According to the real estate association, the meaning of the sections of the government’s proposal regarding the distribution of television channels remains unclear.
“If a change is sought, the Real Estate Association considers that this has not been sufficiently taken into account in the impact assessment included in the board’s proposal. The change would have a significant impact in the Finnish housing association field, where housing associations, as owners of common antenna and cable systems, could be considered operators that continue to broadcast television content,” says the statement of the Real Estate Association.
According to the real estate association, the result could be a situation where housing associations would have to pay copyright compensation separately to the copyright organization.
“Such an obligation would threaten to increase the already very high housing costs,” the statement says.
The Ministry denies
Kauppalehti asked the Ministry of Education and Culture’s (OKM) view on the matter. The ministry wanted to comment with a concise email response.
OKM board advisor Anna Vuopala according to the prepared answer, the government’s proposal does not change the existing legislation, so that it would directly result in additional costs.
“The bill does not cause additional costs for households. The government’s proposal does not change the current situation or the starting point of the current copyright law, that permits for the use of works protected by copyright must be obtained. If licenses are needed for broadcasting, they must be obtained either directly from the rights holders or from the organization representing them, or a combination of these,” says Vuopala.
According to him, there will be no compensation for the housing associations unless the telecom operators pass them on to the housing associations.
“The fact is that in the end the customer pays for the service they receive and the costs are somehow transferred to the price paid by the customer.”
Advisory lawyer of the Finnish Real Estate Association Tapio Haltia disagrees with the ministry to some extent and considers that the government’s proposal could lead to additional costs in housing associations if it changes the current situation.
“It is true that copyright fees are still paid today, but they are paid by TV companies, who receive their money in the case of Yle, Vero, and in the case of commercial operators, as advertising revenue”, Haltia.
The real estate association’s concern concerns the forwarding of TV broadcasts mentioned in the board’s presentation.
“According to the proposal, a separate copyright compensation should be paid for forwarding. From the wording of the presentation, it could be interpreted that forwarding would also be forwarding on the network of the housing company’s property, for example when the broadcast is sent facing forward on the property’s antenna network.”
According to Haltia, the matter would concern a significant part of Finnish housing associations.
How big could be the additional costs feared by the Kiinteistöliito for building societies?
“I have no idea about that directly, but as a whole we are talking about large sums of money that would be transferred here, because it is about the entire TV industry and the copyright compensations that apply to it.”
The website of the Ministry of Education and Culture reported last spring that the proposed changes to the law will promote “the use of digital technologies, cross-border use of works, wider availability of works and functioning copyright markets”.
“The changes in the law also promote the distribution of television and radio programs and the licensing of copyright and related rights of the works and other protected material included in the programs. The exclusive rights related to the image recordings of the performing artists are proposed to be extended,” it was reported on the ministry’s website.