OPINION OF ADVOCATE GENERAL
delivered on 28 June 2007 (1)
Karl Josef Wilhelm Schwibbert
(Reference for a preliminary ruling from the Tribunale di Forlì (Italy))
(Directive 98/34/EC – Definition of ‘technical regulation’ – National legislation imposing the obligation to affix to compact discs the initials of the national body responsible for collecting royalties – Obligation to notify)
I – Introduction
1. In connection with the criminal charges brought against Mr Schwibbert for holding compact discs (hereinafter ‘CDs’) which did not bear the distinctive sign of the national body responsible for collecting royalties (Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori, hereinafter ‘SIAE’), the Tribunale di Forlì, Italy, at the request of Mr Schwibbert’s lawyer, asks the Court whether national provisions imposing the obligation to affix that distinctive sign are compatible with Articles 3 EC and 23 EC to 27 EC, and with Council Directive 83/189/EEC of 28 March 1983 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations (2) – a directive in fact consolidated by Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations, (3) itself amended by Directive 98/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 July 1998, (4) Council Directive 92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property (5) and Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society. (6)
II – Legal framework
A – Community law
1. EC Treaty
2. According to Articles 23 EC to 27 EC, the Community is to be based upon a customs union which will cover all trade in goods and which will involve the prohibition between Member States of customs duties on imports and exports and of all charges having equivalent effect.
(a) Directive 92/100
3. Directive 92/100 is intended to bring about harmonised legal protection in respect of rental right and lending right and of certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property. According to the first recital in the preamble to the Directive, that harmonisation is intended to remove differences between the national rules when those differences ‘are sources of barriers to trade and distortions of competition which impede the achievement and proper functioning of the internal market’.
4. The second recital states that ‘such differences in legal protection could well become greater as Member States adopt new and different legislation or as national case-law interpreting such legislation develops differently’.
5. The third recital states that ‘such differences should therefore be eliminated in accordance with the objective of introducing an area without internal frontiers as set out in Article 8a of the Treaty so as to institute, pursuant to Article 3(f) of the Treaty, a system ensuring that competition in the common market is not distorted’.
(b) Directive 98/34, consolidating Directive 83/189
6. Under Article 1:
‘For the purposes of this Directive, the following meanings shall apply:
1. “product”, any industrially manufactured product and any agricultural product, including fish products;
2. “technical specification”, a specification contained in a document which lays down the characteristics required of a product such as levels of quality, performance, safety or dimensions, including the requirements applicable to the product as regards the name under which the product is sold, terminology, symbols, testing and test methods, packaging, marking or labelling and conformity assessment procedures ...
10. “draft technical regulation”, the text of a technical specification or other requirement, including administrative provisions formulated with the aim of enacting it or of ultimately having it enacted as a technical regulation, the text being at a stage of preparation at which substantial amendments can still be made ...’.
7. Article 8 of Directive 98/34 provides:
‘1. ... Member States shall immediately communicate to the Commission any draft technical regulation ...; they shall also let the Commission have a statement of the grounds which make the enactment of such a technical regulation necessary, where these have not already been made clear in the draft.
Where appropriate, and unless it has already been sent with a prior communication, Member States shall simultaneously communicate the text of the basic legislative or regulatory provisions principally and directly concerned, should knowledge of such text be necessary to assess the implications of the draft technical regulation.
Member States shall communicate the draft again under the above conditions if they make changes to the draft that have the effect of significantly altering its scope, shortening the timetable originally envisaged for implementation, adding specifications or requirements, or making the latter more restrictive.’
8. Article 9 of Directive 98/34 provides:
‘Member States shall postpone the adoption of a draft technical regulation for three months from the date of receipt by the Commission of the communication referred to in Article 8(1).’
(c) Directive 98/48, amending certain points of Directive 98/34
9. Point 9 of Article 1 of Directive 98/34 becomes point 11 as follows:
‘11. “technical regulation”, technical specifications and other requirements or rules on services, including the relevant administrative provisions, the observance of which is compulsory, de jure or de facto, in the case of marketing, provision of a service, establishment of a service operator or use in a Member State or a major part thereof, as well as laws, regulations or administrative provisions of Member States, except those provided for in Article 10, prohibiting the manufacture, importation, marketing or use of a product or prohibiting the provision or use of a service, or establishment as a service provider.
De facto technical regulations include:
– laws, regulations or administrative provisions of a Member State which refer either to technical specifications or to other requirements or to rules on services, or to professional codes or codes of practice which in turn refer to technical specifications or to other requirements or to rules on services, compliance with which confers a presumption of conformity with the obligations imposed by the aforementioned laws, regulations or administrative provisions,
– voluntary agreements to which a public authority is a contracting party and which provide, in the general interest, for compliance with technical specifications or other requirements or rules on services, excluding public procurement tender specifications,
– technical specifications or other requirements or rules on services which are linked to fiscal or financial measures affecting the consumption of products or services by encouraging compliance with such technical specifications or other requirements or rules on services; technical specifications or other requirements or rules on services linked to national social security systems are not included.’
(d) Directive 2001/29
10. Directive 2001/29 reproduces the principles and rules contained inter alia in Directive 92/100 and introduces amendments to them.
B – National law
11. The Italian copyright law is based on Law 633 of 1941. (7) This law created an ad hoc public body, SIAE, which has protection, mediation and certification responsibilities, and provided for criminal penalties for certain unauthorised conduct (marketing, reproduction, ...). It also introduced the obligation to affix the SIAE distinctive sign.
12. Law 121/87 of 27 March 1987 (8) extended the obligation to affix the SIAE distinctive sign and the possibility of criminal penalties to other media.
13. Legislative Decree No 685/94 of 16 November 1994 (9) repealed Law 121/87. Article 171 b(c) of that decree provides:
‘Any person who:
… sells or rents video cassettes, music cassettes or any other medium containing phonograms or videograms or cinematographic or audiovisual works or sequences of moving images which do not bear the mark of the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE) in accordance with this law and with the implementing regulation
shall be punished with a term of imprisonment of between three months and three years and with a fine of between ITL 500 000 and ITL 6 000 000.’
III – The dispute in the main proceedings and the reference for a preliminary ruling
14. On 9 and 10 February 2000, CDs were seized on the premises of the company K.J.W.S. Srl, of which Mr Schwibbert, who is resident in Italy, is the legal representative. Those CDs, which were seized because they did not bear the SIAE distinctive sign, contained reproductions of works of the artists Giorgio De Chirico and Mario Schifano. Mr Schwibbert’s lawyer stated at the hearing before the Court of Justice that some of the CDs included musical accompaniment. Moreover, a document annexed to Mr Schwibbert’s written observations indicates that, at least, the CDs which reproduced the works of the first of those artists contained a film. It is also apparent from information provided by the national court and from the explanations supplied by Mr Schwibbert’s lawyer to the hearing before the Court that the CDs had been copied in Germany and were intended to be sold to two Italian companies for them to sell by mail order.
15. On 23 May 2001, the Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale di Forlì interviewed Mr Schwibbert under caution and sent him for trial before the Tribunale di Forlì.
16. On 14 December 2004, the Tribunale di Forlì pointed out in the record of its hearing that it is not alleged that Mr Schwibbert reproduced the works unlawfully, since he had the necessary authorisations, but only that the CDs did not bear the SIAE distinctive sign.
17. The Tribunale di Forlì also granted the application made by Mr Schwibbert’s lawyer for a reference for a preliminary ruling from the Court of Justice. However, the order for reference merely attached the arguments of Mr Schwibbert’s lawyer and did not formulate specific questions. The order was lodged at the Court Registry on 21 January 2005.
18. On 17 July 2006, the Court requested, pursuant to Article 104(5) of the Rules of Procedure, clarification from the national court regarding the factual and legal context of the dispute in the main proceedings, and the Community law provisions to be interpreted and the reasons why the court considered it necessary to request their interpretation. Its replies were received by the Court on 8 November 2006.
19. It follows from the replies given by the Tribunale di Forlì that the questions which that court is asking the Court of Justice may be formulated as follows:
‘Are the national rules concerning the affixing of the SIAE marking compatible with Articles 3 EC, 23 EC to 27 EC, Articles 1, 8, 10 and 11 of Directive 98/34/EC of 22 June 1998 and Directives 92/100 and 2001/29?’
20. The Court decided to put some questions, to be answered in writing before the hearing, to the Italian Government and the Commission, requesting them inter alia to present their observations in the light of the clarifications provided by the national court. The Italian Government and the Commission replied to those requests in writing.
IV – Observations presented to the Court of Justice
21. Mr Schwibbert maintains that the obligation to affix the SIAE sign is a technical regulation which should have been notified by Italy to the Commission in accordance with Article 8(1) of Directive 83/189.
22. The obligation to affix that distinctive sign is also in the nature of a measure having equivalent effect, since it constitutes a barrier that prevents operators from other countries developing their business in the Italian market.
23. Furthermore, the affixing of that sign offers no protection to the author and to the other holders of intellectual property rights. The Italian legislation imposes criminal penalties for failure to affix it, whether or not the reproduction was unlawful.
24. Moreover, the obligation to affix the initials SIAE is contrary to Articles 23 EC and 25 EC, namely, the prohibition, laid down by the Treaty, of customs duties and of all charges having equivalent effect, since those initials are charged for and must be affixed to all works from the moment they enter Italy from a Community country.
25. Finally, that obligation infringes Directive 92/100, the first three recitals of which state that there are differences between the various national legal systems and, consequently, a risk that competition between the Member States will be distorted.
26. SIAE, which has not submitted written observations, stated at the hearing that the obligation to affix the sign did not have to be notified to the Commission, since it was already provided for by a law of 1941, which, at the time, referred to works produced on paper. Since 1971, agreements had been concluded between all disc manufacturers for the SIAE to be affixed to that medium.
27. SIAE also states that, at the material time, Italian law did not impose the obligation to affix the distinctive sign on works of figurative art; that obligation has existed only since Law 248/2000 came into force. In the present case, CDs with musical content should have borne the SIAE initials.
28. As regards Articles 3 EC, 22 EC and 27 EC, SIAE argues that the prohibition laid down by those articles concerning duties levied on imports affects only imported products, to the exclusion of domestic products. However, the Italian legislation requiring the affixing of the distinctive sign applies to all products, whether domestic or imported. Therefore, those articles do not affect that obligation, which, furthermore, as the Italian Government also states, is designed to enable both the forces of law and order and consumers to distinguish between original works and pirated works.
29. SIAE adds that Directive 92/100 was transposed in Italy by Legislative Decree 685/94. As a measure to implement the Directive, that Legislative Decree, which, in the words of the SIAE, ‘contained within it the rules concerning the distinctive sign’, was notified to the Commission.
30. Finally, SIAE argues that, if the Court wished to reformulate the question referred for a preliminary ruling in relation to Articles 28 EC and 30 EC, the obligation to affix ought to be regarded as proportionate to the objectives inter alia of combating piracy and informing consumers who, if they buy illegal copies, are liable to criminal proceedings.
31. The Italian Government considers that the question referred for a preliminary ruling is inadmissible, since the referring court has merely granted the request as submitted by the accused’s lawyer. The national court ought to give at least some explanation as to why the Community law provisions in respect of which it has made the reference need an interpretation from the Court.
32. The Italian Government states that SIAE is a public undertaking which has a legal monopoly and whose role is inter alia to collect, as required by law, the revenue from the affixing of the SIAE sign. By supplying that sign, SIAE provides its members with a guarantee that the reproductions are lawful. That service is part of the fight against piracy and has no effect on the free movement of goods. The Italian Government agrees with the SIAE that, in any event, Article 30 EC lends validity to the obligation to affix the SIAE sign. That measure, since it is not discriminatory, also complies with Directive 92/100.
33. The Italian Government shares the view of SIAE that the obligation, imposed by Law 121/87, to affix the sign did not have to be notified to the Commission because that obligation has existed since 1941, and the introduction of a criminal penalty is only an adjustment made in response to the appearance of new technological media in the market.
34. Finally, the Italian Government asserts that intellectual works cannot be treated in the same way as any other product which may be placed on the market within the Community because they are not goods. The SIAE distinctive sign cannot be treated like a marking in accordance with technical regulations within the meaning of Directive 83/189, since that distinctive sign or label essentially identifies the characteristics of the intellectual work which has been reproduced and therefore of the corpus mysticum; it does not identify the corpus mechanicum, in other words the medium. It is therefore not possible to refer, as does the Commission, to the judgment in Bic Bénélux. (10) In that case, the stamp was intended to inform the public of the effects of the BIC product on the environment; it therefore described the characteristics of that product. However, the SIAE stamp does not contain any description of the characteristics of the product. It simply indicates to the forces of law and order and to consumers that the stamp has been affixed in accordance with the law. Consequently, the measure is entirely incidental to the objective, which is to demonstrate that the regulations have been properly observed.
35. The Commission, in the light of the written replies given to the written questions posed by the Court and of the observations presented at the hearing by the various parties, considers that the question referred for a preliminary ruling is admissible.
36. The Commission points out that only Article 2 of Law 121/87 extended the obligation to affix the SIAE sign to music cassettes and CDs. That rule constitutes a technical regulation which should have been notified to the Commission. The Commission cites Article 1(5) of Directive 83/189, (11) which was in force in 1987, according to which ‘technical regulation’ means ‘technical specifications, including the relevant administrative provisions, the observance of which is compulsory, de jure or de facto, in the case of marketing or use ...’. In order to market videocassettes and CDs in 1987 in Italy, it was necessary to affix that sign. It was therefore a technical regulation the observance of which was compulsory in the case of marketing in Italy.
37. The Commission adds that Legislative Decree 685/94, since it repealed Law 121/87, is the only legislation applicable at the material time. Article 171b(c), since it also imposes an obligation, subject to criminal penalties, to affix the SIAE sign, should also have been notified to the Commission. That sign, which may be affixed either directly to the CD or on the outer packaging, is equivalent to a marking. The present situation is therefore comparable to the situation in Bic Benelux concerning fiscal aspects. In that regard, the Commission also refers to the judgment in CIA Security International, (12) in which the Court held that breach of the obligation to notify laid down, inter alia, in Article 8 of Directive 89/189, renders the technical regulations concerned inapplicable, so that they are unenforceable against individuals.
38. The Commission counters the argument raised by SIAE at the hearing, that the Commission was aware of the obligation to affix the sign owing to notification of Legislative Decree 685/94 as a measure transposing Directive 92/100, by stating that that obligation is not a measure transposing Directive 92/100, because that obligation is not necessary for transposing the directive. Consequently, that notification as a measure transposing Directive 92/100 cannot be regarded as one of the situations envisaged by Article 10 of Directive 83/189, which exempts Member States from the obligation to notify measures transposing Community directives.
39. In the light of the present observations, which the Commission considers to be sufficient, it nevertheless argues that the obligation to affix the SIAE sign is contrary neither to Articles 23 EC and 25 EC, because it is not linked to the crossing of the border but is an obligation which must be fulfilled prior to marketing, nor to Directive 92/100, which merely defines the scope of certain rights but leaves it to the Member States to select the mechanisms for ensuring observance of those rights; the obligation to affix may be regarded as a mechanism.
V – Assessment
A – The admissibility of the question referred for a preliminary ruling
40. In spite of the submissions of the Italian Government, I consider that this question referred for a preliminary ruling is admissible. Admittedly, it is not desirable that the national court should merely enclose the application for a reference for a preliminary ruling as formulated by a party’s lawyer, and that it should have compelled the Court of Justice to request, pursuant to Article 104(5) of the Rules of Procedure, clarification from the national court regarding the factual and legal context of the dispute in the main proceedings, the Community law provisions to be interpreted and the reasons why the court considers it necessary to request their interpretation. However, it is not apparent from any legislation, and in particular not from the information note on references from national courts for a preliminary ruling, (13) that the national court has formally to draft the question or questions and itself provide any relevant information regarding the case, (14) failing which the reference will be inadmissible. Moreover, in the present case, the national court, to use its own words, ‘deems [the document submitted by Mr Schwibbert’s lawyer] to be reproduced in its judgment’.
B – The special features of the Italian legislation
41. In the great majority of the Member States, the law does not impose an obligation to affix the sign of the national body responsible for administering royalties relating to media. (15) If, however, those bodies require or recommend, as a condition for authorising reproduction, that certain particulars be stated on the media, (16) those particulars need only be on the reproductions, but there is absolutely no requirement for the reproductions to bear stickers sold by the bodies in question. Moreover, the fact that the bodies may require their sign to be affixed to reproductions is not based on a legal obligation, but simply on the contract concluded between the bodies and the holder of the reproduction authorisation. Thus, failure to affix the sign may involve penalties only of a contractual nature, such as the payment of additional royalties.
42. The Italian legal system, by imposing criminal penalties for failure to affix the sign of the body responsible for collecting royalties, therefore appears to have special features as compared with the systems of the other Member States of the European Union.
C – The obligation to affix the SIAE sign: a technical regulation subject to the obligation to notify
43. Article 8 of Directive 98/34 requires Member States to communicate immediately to the Commission any draft technical regulation. SIAE and the Italian Government maintain that Italy did not have to communicate the obligation to affix the SIAE sign because it was not a technical regulation. It is therefore necessary to examine the definition of technical regulation (17) and to determine whether it may include the obligation to affix such a sign.
44. The Court has held, for example, that national provisions which merely lay down conditions governing the establishment of undertakings, such as provisions making the exercise of an activity subject to prior authorisation, do not constitute technical regulations. (18) Likewise, national rules which do not lay down the characteristics required of a product but are confined to regulating the closing times of shops do not constitute technical regulations. (19)
45. On the other hand, detailed rules defining the conditions concerning the quality tests and function tests which must be fulfilled in order for the product to be approved and marketed do constitute technical regulations. (20) Similarly, provisions which require the undertakings concerned to apply for prior approval of their equipment constitute technical regulations. (21) The Court has also held that the concept of technical specification includes production methods and procedures for medicinal products. (22) The Court has declared, furthermore, that rules which are intended to prevent the administration of sympathicomimetic substances to certain fattening cattle constitute technical specifications, since they are issued by the national administrative authorities, apply to the whole of the national territory and are binding on their addressees. (23) In its judgment in Bic Benelux, the Court also pointed out that a marking intended to inform the public of the effects of a product on the environment is no different, in spite of the fact that it is linked to an eco-tax system, from other labelling which reminds consumers of the harmful effects of the products in question on the environment. Therefore such a marking cannot be regarded as exclusively a fiscal accompanying measure and, consequently, it must be notified. (24) Similarly, the obligation to indicate the origin of a product on the label is notifiable. (25) Even national provisions which entail a prohibition on the organisation of games of chance using certain gaming machines, (26) requirements relating to the maximum length and depth and maximum power restriction of pleasure motor-boats (27) or national legislative provisions which prohibit the installation of all electrical, electromechanical and electronic games on all public and private premises, including computer games in undertakings providing internet services, and make the operation of such undertakings subject to the issue of a special authorisation, must be considered to be technical regulations. (28)
46. In this case, as the Commission submits, the obligation to affix the SIAE sign is comparable to the obligation to affix a marking in Bic Benelux, cited above, the purpose of which was to inform the public of the environmental effects of a product. In the present case, the sign is intended, as the SIAE and the Italian Government pointed out in their observations, to inform consumers and the forces of law and order that the reproductions are lawful. Accordingly, just as the Court held in paragraph 23 of the judgment in Bic Benelux, the obligation to affix the SIAE sign should be regarded as constituting, in the words used by the Court in the aforementioned paragraph 23 ‘according to the definition given in [Article 11 of Directive 98/48], a de jure technical regulation in that its “observance ... is compulsory ... in the case of marketing” of the product concerned and in that it is, according to the definition given in [Article 5(2) of Directive 98/34], a technical specification, since the enactment defines “the characteristics required of a product such as ... the requirements applicable to the product as regards ... marking or labelling” ’.
47. The Italian Government’s argument that intellectual works cannot be treated in the same way as any other marketable product because they are not goods must therefore be rejected. Directive 98/34 concerns itself with ‘products’ rather than ‘goods’. (29) Directive 98/34, according to Article 1(1) thereof, applies to ‘any industrially manufactured product’. CDs are unquestionably industrially manufactured products. Moreover, that Directive does not exclude any sector, inter alia intellectual works, from its scope. (30) Furthermore, Directive 98/48, (31) which was adopted one month after Directive 98/34, extends its scope to ‘any Information Society service’, that is to say, ‘any service normally provided for remuneration, at a distance, by electronic means ...’. Since such services are certainly ‘intellectual works’, it cannot be maintained that intellectual works do not fall within the fields in which rules may be described as technical regulations.
48. It is also necessary to reject the Italian Government’s argument that the SIAE distinctive sign cannot be treated in the same way as a marking in accordance with technical regulations, since that distinctive sign essentially identifies the characteristics of the intellectual work which has been reproduced and therefore of the ‘corpus mysticum’; it does not identify the ‘corpus mechanicum’, in other words the medium. That distinction is illusory, in fact. The SIAE distinctive sign is intended, as has just been reiterated, to inform consumers and the forces of law and order that the CDs have been copied in compliance with copyright. The sign therefore definitely refers to the medium.
49. Consequently, pursuant to Article 8 of Directive 98/34, under which ‘Member States shall immediately communicate to the Commission any draft technical regulation’, Italy should have communicated the obligation to affix the SIAE sign, as required under the national legislation in force at the material time, namely Legislative Decree 685/94 of 16 November 1994.
50. Furthermore, the reply to be given to SIAE – which maintains that if it were held that the obligation to affix the SIAE sign was to be regarded as a technical regulation which had to be communicated, that communication was made indirectly, since the Legislative Decree was communicated to the Commission as a measure implementing Directive 92/100 – is that, under Article 8 of Directive 98/34, Member States ‘shall also let the Commission have a statement of the grounds which make the enactment of such a technical regulation necessary’. Moreover, the Court has already had occasion to point out that the aim of that provision ‘is to enable the Commission to have as much information as possible on any draft technical regulation with respect to its content, scope and general context in order to enable it to exercise as effectively as possible the powers conferred on it by [Directive 83/189]’. (32) Clearly, no notification was sent to that end. Article 8 also provides that ‘Member States shall simultaneously communicate the text of the basic legislative or regulatory provisions principally and directly concerned, should knowledge of such text be necessary to assess the implications of the draft technical regulation’. In view of the special features of the Italian legislation on the matter as compared with the legislation of the other Member States and having regard to the overall objective of the Directive, (33) such communication would not have been redundant.
D – The obligation to communicate an extension to the scope of a technical regulation
51. SIAE and the Italian Government submit that the obligation to affix the SIAE initials imposed by Law 121/87 did not have to be communicated to the Commission, because that obligation was already provided for in the 1941 Law for works produced on paper. Law 121/87, extending that obligation to other sectors and providing for criminal penalties, and Legislative Decree 685/94 of 16 November 1994 which repealed Law 121/87, are only adjustments made in the light of technological progress, and the increase in the fields subject to the obligation to affix the SIAE initials was therefore not communicated.
52. However, Article 8 also provides that ‘Member States shall communicate the draft again ... if they make changes to the draft that have the effect of significantly altering its scope’. Consequently, the Court has also pointed out that the extension of the scope of a technical regulation to other products constitutes a new technical regulation. (34)
E – The obligation of the national court to decline to apply a technical regulation which has not been notified
53. It is apparent from the case-law of the Court that, since Italy did not notify the Commission of the obligation to affix the SIAE initials, the Italian authorities cannot complain that Mr Schwibbert has not affixed it.
54. In its judgment in CIA Security International, (35) the Court stated that Articles 8 and 9 of Directive 83/189 were to be interpreted as meaning that individuals may rely on them before the national court, which must decline to apply a national technical regulation which has not been notified in accordance with the Directive. The Court explains that, on the one hand, those provisions, since they lay down a precise obligation on Member States to notify draft technical regulations before they are adopted, are unconditional and sufficiently precise in terms of their content. On the other hand, an interpretation of the Directive as meaning that breach of the obligation to notify constitutes a substantial procedural defect such as to render the technical regulations in question inapplicable to individuals will ensure the effectiveness of the Community preventive control for which provision is made in the Directive in order to attain its objective, which is to protect freedom of movement for goods. (36) Similarly, in Sapod Audic v Eco-Emballages, the Court held that an individual may invoke the failure to make notification of a national provision which has to be interpreted as requiring a mark or label to be applied, and it is then for the national court to refuse to apply that provision. (37)
55. It is apparent from the foregoing considerations that the obligation to affix the SIAE initials, laid down in Legislative Decree 685/94, (38) should be deemed to constitute a technical regulation. That technical regulation was not notified to the Commission, contrary to the provisions of Article 8 of Directive 98/34. Therefore, the Italian authorities may not complain that Mr Schwibbert did not affix the sign. Consequently, it is not necessary to respond to the other matters raised in the reference for a preliminary ruling, since answers to them are not necessary for judgment to be given in the main action. (39)
VI – Conclusion
56. In the light of the foregoing considerations, I propose that the Court give the following reply to the questions submitted by the Tribunale di Forlì:
National provisions requiring the affixing of the distinctive sign of the national body responsible for collecting royalties constitute a technical regulation which must be notified to the Commission of the European Communities, in accordance with Article 8 of Directive 98/34 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations. Each extension of the scope of that obligation must be notified. It is for the national court to decline to apply a provision which does not comply with that obligation to notify.