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End of the road

'The cat coming out of the coal bin', Dorothy Sherryl (Public Domain)

On the 21st of October 2014, a Resolution signed by the Director of Cultural Heritage of the Basque Autonomous Government (Eusko Jaurlaritza or EJ for short) was published in the Official Journal of the Basque Country (BOPV), through which Euskal Kulturgileen Kidegoa (EKKI) was authorized to operate as a CMO of all the intellectual property rights contained in the Intellectual Property Law of Spain, exclusively or primarily in the Basque Autonomous Community.

Unsurprisingly, the Spanish CMOs SGAE, CEDRO, VEGAP, AIE and AGEDI all impugned this decision, as did the Spanish Government through the State Attorney, contradicting its own mandate in confering powers to authorize new CMOs to the Basque Autonomous Community.

We can happily announce that this road is now exhausted, with the different courts ruling that there is no monopoly in rights management and reinforcing the powers of the Basque Autonomous Community in authorizing CMOs to operate.

Thorugh the 1188/2018 Sentence of the Supreme Court of Spain, a fraction of the claim made by the Spanish Government through the public prosecutor was admitted, forcing the EJ to publish the mentioned Resolution in the Spanish Official Journal (BOE). No further claims were accepted, thus reinforcing the EJ’s power to authorize CMOs in its territory.

Despite this publication and the consequent confirmation of powers for the EJ and empowerment of the Basque creators’ community, other judicial obstacles remained. The challenge posed by the abovementioned CMOs continued; a clear example of their lack of competitive culture, lack of knowledge of the cultural fabric of the Basque Country, and the privileges stemming from a formerly monopolistic market.

A horrific set of contradicting judiciary decisions followed suit: whereas the High Court of the Basque Country, through Sentence given on January 19th 2017, ratified the Resolution and the EJ’s decision to dismiss SGAE’s, VEGAP’s and CEDRO’s claims posed through Administrative process 332/2015, the Supreme Court of Spain admitted their claims with Sentence 665/2019 ­–though only partially: it recognized their right to appear in administrative processes allowing the creation of new CMOs. So the case was returned to the High Court of the Basque Country to decide on the grounds of the matter, which in turn produced Sentence 356/2019, admitting part of the claims that EKKI’s Statutes were incomplete –though the Statutes had been twice reformed by then, so the Sentence had no practical effect.

A further appeal by SGAE, CEDRO, and VEGAP to this sentence was unsuccesful: it was turned down by the Supreme Court through Ruling given on the 25th of March 2021. Similarly, the 210/2015 administrative appeal –sponsored solely by AIE after AGEDI had abandoned the process– has been faced with rejection: we have recently been informed that the Supreme Court has not accepted their final plea, thus putting an end to the judicial path opened by these institutions.