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Hungarian court rules against Artisjus partly in favor of Nokia

Nokia have been ruled exempt from paying levies for mobile phones to Hungarian collecting society Artisjus in a recent court decision. While the court claimed that Artisjus’s claim for levies for mobile phones and memory cards are justified, it found that Artisjus practice for collecting these levies was unfair and unbalanced. At the same time, the court ordered Nokia to pay almost HUF 6 million to Artisjus in levy for memory cards for the period between 2002 and 2007.

The Komárom County Court of Hungary ruled at the end of November that Artisjus, Hungarian collection society for authors’ rights, applied unfair general terms and conditions on mobile phones, and therefore rejected Artisjus’ claim that Nokia pay private copy levies for mobile phones sold between 2002 and 2007 in Hungary.

The court, in its first instance decision, concluded that Artisjus’ annual levy fee announcements between 2002 and 2006 were so vaguely worded that Artisjus could arbitrarily impose levy fee payment obligations on any manufacturer of multifunctional devices, thus the attempt of Artisjus to extend the scope of the levies to Nokia’s mobile phones was unfair.

Similarly, the court concluded that the levy fee announcement for 2007 also applied broad categories and, although it included mobile phones, it covered other devices for which Artisjus otherwise did not claim levies, by which Artisjus breached the principle of equal treatment of the Hungarian Copyright Act.

The court established that the breach of the principle of equal treatment was so serious that the levy fee announcement for 2007 also had to be annulled.

The court did not rule out the potential application of private copy levies on mobile phone devices, but it noted that Nokia’s other arguments against such levies are also worth further consideration.

Both Nokia and Artisjus have appealed the court decision. Neither Nokia nor its legal representative, Lakatos, Köves and Partners LLP would comment on the decision. (BBJ)