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Don't forget the Reprobel declaration!

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The Reprobel declaration is back from the dead. It is possible that the term rings a bell somewhere in the distance, or that it means nothing to you. Regardless of the situation you find yourself in, as an entrepreneur you will come into contact with this body at least once a year. It is therefore important to know what it stands for and what obligations it imposes on entrepreneurs. The summary below will help you on your way.


1. Who is Reprobel?

Reprobel is the body responsible for collecting reproduction fees. These are specific remunerations that must be paid by professional users for the reproduction of copyright protected works. Under reproduction is understood both the making of prints and photocopies, as well as the internal digital use of protected works. For example, you make a copy of a page in a book, you use an image from the Internet in a presentation or you share an article on the internal company network. If you do not pay a reproduction fee for this, you are in principle violating copyright.

It then redistributes the remunerations that Reprobel collects for this among the authors of the protected works. You can thus compare the institution with SABAM, but instead of copyrights on music, it deals with copyrights on books, newspaper articles, images, films, etc.


2. What is expected of the entrepreneur?

In principle, a declaration must be submitted every year to Reprobel via their electronic portal. This declaration must state how many copies of protected works you take and a remuneration must be paid per copy. It is also possible to submit a zero declaration, but it is very unlikely that you, as a company, will not take any copies or prints of a protected work. It is also important to note that the burden of proof lies with the declarant and you must therefore be able to demonstrate how many copies were taken.  

Due to internal reforms of the institution over the past few years, Reprobel has barely sent out declaration reminders, with the result that most entrepreneurs have lost track of their declarations. However, Reprobel has recently started a catch-up manoeuvre to collect the remunerations of the past years. For the declaration relating to the reference year 2020, the final deadline for the declaration has been set at September 15, 2021. Those who fail to meet this deadline risk a fine.  

In practice, however, it appears that the submission of a declaration is only possible if one has already received a letter from Reprobel. Companies that did not receive a declaration reminder for the reference year 2020 are therefore not obliged to submit a declaration. Eventually, however, every entrepreneur will receive a letter from Reprobel in which they will be assigned a Reprobel number. This number can then be used to log on to the portal in order to process the declaration.  

Specifically, this means that:   

  • If you received one or more letters from Reprobel earlier this year stating your Reprobel number, you must submit a declaration via the Reprobel website no later than 15/09/2021.  
  • If you have not received a letter, you should do nothing for the time being and will probably not be required to file such a return until reference year 2021 at the earliest.  
  • If you have received a letter but can no longer find it or if you still wish to submit a declaration spontaneously for reference year 2020, then the Reprobel number can be requested at Reprobel. 


3. How much is the fee?

As an entrepreneur, you may choose to pay a fee per copy taken. As a simplification, you can also pay a standard rate per full-time employee who makes copies. This remuneration amounts to 8, 12 or 20 euros per employee, depending on the sector. However, these fees do not cover the digital reuse of protected works. For example, with this remuneration you may not use images in internal presentations, share articles internally on the company network or scan in pages from a book.   

To make the declaration easier, Reprobel has also introduced a licence. This licence is more expensive than the remuneration per copy, but also offers many advantages. For example, with this remuneration you can actually reproduce protected works digitally, which is not permitted with the remuneration per copy. The risk of inspection is therefore much smaller, as is the risk of fines and rate increases. In addition, this also provides a simplification at an administrative level. After all, you no longer have to keep track of how many copies were made, but can pay a fixed amount. 

For the private sector, the fee is determined on the one hand according to the activities performed and on the other hand according to the number of full-time employees. Companies that, for example, only provide intellectual services, such as lawyers or notaries, will have to pay a higher rate. This rate will then increase further depending on the number of employees the company employs. For example, the basic fee for lawyers is EUR 25 increased by EUR 25 per relevant full-time employee.   


4. How can you as an entrepreneur make use of Reprobel yourself?

Of course, as an author or publisher you can also claim the reproduction remuneration that Reprobel receives and redistributes if you create copyright-protected works yourself. You can do this by joining a member-management company of Reprobel, such as SACD, Copiebel, etc.

If you have any questions or would like assistance in filing your Reprobel declaration, please do not hesitate to here contact us.