The member states of the European Union are obliged to implement Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonization of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society by December 22 2002. The directive harmonizes some elements of copyright law in relation to features such as certain exclusive rights and establishes new forms of protection for technological measures and rights-management information. The transposition of the directive's provisions into the national legislation will require a number of amendments to existing legislation, in particular to the Copyright Act (404/1961, as amended).

Finland is preparing amendments to the Copyright Act concurrent with the directive's implementation process. The working group responsible for various aspects of the process submitted its consultation paper to the Ministry of Education on May 2 2002. In addition to the amendments required by the directive, the working group proposes adjustments and new provisions (eg, in relation to ephemeral recordings and contractual licences). The two issues presented in the proposal that have attracted most interest in the Finnish media are the possible practical implementation of the directive's concept of fair compensation in the form of equipment duties (eg, levies on equipment mainly used for making copies for private purposes), and the rules on importing pirate copies.

According to the consultation paper, the obligation to pay fair compensation would apply not only to recordable media such as videotapes and CD-Roms, but also to recording equipment that is used for making copies of protected works for private purposes. Further, the working group proposes that the digital media market be closely and systematically monitored and that the system of fair compensation as well as the relevant legislation be developed. Therefore, new amendments in this respect might be expected in the future.

As regards the import of pirate copies, the working group has proposed that the import of more than 10 pirate CDs or similar recordings be regarded as a copyright offence, punishable with a fine. A person could be considered guilty of copyright offence if he or she knows or has grounds to suspect that the copies of the recordings have been made abroad under circumstances that would be found unlawful under the Finnish copyright legislation. When assessing whether the private individual knew or should have known about the illegality of the recording one should pay specific attention to the product's price and place of purchase.

The consultation paper is currently being circulated for comments and the government bill is expected by the end of August 2002. According to the information given by the Ministry of Education, the amendments to the copyright legislation should take effect on December 21 2002.

For further information on this topic please contact Rainer Hilli or Kati Tusa at Roschier Holmberg, Attorneys Ltd by telephone (+358 20 506 6000) or by fax (+358 20 506 6100) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).