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Call for computer licences

Published on 10/11/2004

10 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Two Belgian parliamentarians are pushing for a system of compulsory computer licenses to be introduced in Belgium.

Le Soir newspaper reported on Wednesday Philippe Monfils of the centre right Mouvement Reformateur party and socialist Valerie Deom want to introduce the licenses to combat the problem of illegal copying of files.

The copying problem has caused particular problems for the music and software industries in recent years.

The two parliamentarians want a forthcoming Belgian law on copyright to make computer licenses compulsory in much the same way as television licenses are.

At present the draft legislation, which would transpose a new EU directive on copyright into Belgian law, specifically excludes the idea of computer licenses.

The Belgian parliament’s economic affairs committee was set to discuss the new copyright plans this week.

But its planned meeting was postponed when not enough committee members turned up.

Monfils and Deom say their plan would ensure that creators of works that can be transmitted digitally – including music, photographs, films and text – did not lose out on royalty payments owed to them.

But industry federations strongly oppose any move to introduce licensing.

Computers are an essential part of economic and social life and the majority are not used for leisure, said Jan Steelant from the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB).

A licence on such an indispensable tool is unacceptable and completely contradicts efforts to simplify administration and e-government, he argued.

His views were backed by Agoria, the federation of the new technology industries.

Director, Philippe Geerts, said a licence was unnecessary in the face of new techniques to combat pirate copies.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news