In a recent and ongoing case, Attorney General (AG) Szpunar has offered his opinion in a reference for a preliminary ruling on whether hotel rooms come within the meaning of "places accessible to the public against payment of an entrance fee"?
The reference for a preliminary ruling is a procedure exercised before the court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). It allows national courts to refer questions to the CJEU on the clarification, interpretation or validity of European law.
The reference made in this case relates to the interpretation of the Rental and Lending Rights Directive, which gives broadcasting companies the right to allow or prohibit broadcasts being made available to the public in places accessible to the public against payment of an entrance fee.
The Commercial Court, Vienna seeks guidance from the CJEU in the following case: Verwertungsgesellschaft Rundfunk GmbH v Hettegger Hotel Edelweiss GmbH, C-641/15, in particular Article 8(3) which provides: "Member States shall provide for broadcasting organisations the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit the rebroadcasting of their broadcasts by wireless means, as well as the communication to the public of their broadcasts if such communication is made in places accessible to the public against payment of an entrance fee."
Szpunar split the question into two and gave opinion on the meaning of 'communication to the public' and the meaning of 'places accessible to the public against payment of an entrance fee'.
The AG concluded in his opinion: "the communication of a television or radio signal through television sets installed in hotel rooms does not constitute communication to the public of the broadcasts of broadcasting organisations in a place accessible to the public against payment of an entrance fee within the meaning of that provision."
His opinion means that hotel rooms which have television sets to enable guests to watch various broadcasts do not come within the meaning of a place that is accessible by the public against payment of an entrance fee. Therefore, this means that broadcasters cannot prohibit or authorise communication of their broadcasts to the public.
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