Tuesday 12 April 2011

Copyright Term Directive: latest news

70 years ago, Glenn Miller recorded
String of Pearls and Chattanooga
In "A game plan against copyright extension", Pirate MEP Christian Engström provides some useful information on today's sudden activity in the European Parliament concerning the generally unpopular proposal to extend from 50 years to 70 the duration of copyright protection for sound recordings in the European Union (on which see yesterday's post here). Today Christian writes, in relevant part:
"We now have a game plan for how to try to stop the extension of the copyright term for neighbouring rights from 50 to 70 years. You can read about the background in yesterday’s blog post. What we want to achieve is to overturn a decision to extend the protection time that was taken by the European Parliament in April 2009, after heavy lobbying by the record companies. ...

According to Rule 59 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, the parliament can reopen a dossier that is still in first reading if a new parliament has been elected since the first reading position was adopted. Since a new European Parliament was elected in June 2009, this is the case.

If 40 or more MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) ask for it, the proposal for a renewed referral will be put to the vote in plenary.

If we get a majority there, the President (speaker) of the Parliament shall ask the Commission to refer its proposal again to the parliament. This means that the dossier is open again, and we can have a full discussion about the subject matter.

This would be the sensible thing to do. The previous Parliament’s decision to extend the time for the neighbouring rights was ill considered, and has been heavily criticised by legal and economic scholars. There is no reason for the present Parliament to be bound by it.

We will now start the process of collecting at least 40 MEP signatures on the following text:

Request for
to Parliament

pursuant to Rule 59 of the Rules of Procedure

of the proposal for a EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL DIRECTIVE amending Directive 2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the term of protection of copyright and related rights (COM(2008)0464 – C6-0281/2008 – 2008/0157(COD)).

If we can collect 40+ signatures, we should be able to get the item on the agenda for the parliamentary session in May. Then we will need citizens to email their MEPs to explain the issue and urge them to vote in the right way. But more about that when the time comes".
Apart from the strange alliance of anti-term-extension forces, with various distinguished academics and other fairly pro-copyright people teaming up with the Pirate Party on this issue, what is notable is the fact that the Pirate Party is seeking to work within the law in seeking to achieve its aims -- a far cry from the stance of some of its past supporters.


AndyJ said...

Like the Anonymous commenter on Monday's post, I totally agree that extending the term of copyright has nothing to do with the spirit of the original purpose, namely the encouragement of creativity, and everything to do with big business and unbridled greed. Contrast this with the commercially driven pressure to grab the exploitation rights in orphan works, many of which could be within their copyright term, and the absurdness of the situation is plain to see.

Andrew Robinson said...

I'll be honest here, and say that I'm quite disappointed that the author is expressing shock that Pirate Party are working witin the law. We've always been about changing the law, not breaking the law, we have a well respected MEP (and another in waiting for the Lisbon treaty to be implemented), and now in Tunisia, our first junior cabinet minister.

I wonder if the author would be similarly quick to point he finger at parties in the UK parliament who have actually former MPs jailed for expenses fraud?

Jeremy said...

Andrew, why are you complaining about something I didn't write?

I expressed no "shock" that the PP was working within the law, but drew my readers' attention to the fact that it was doing so. Nor did I suggest that it had ever done otherwise.

My point was to contrast the way the PP worked within the system with the fact that some of its supporters in the past had not. I think this is a fair observation. Did not the PP count within its supporters a number of convicted criminals from the Pirate Bay?

Andrew Robinson said...

Please accept my apologies, shock was indeed the wrong word for me to use. I am not as finely attuned to the usage of words with complete precision as most of your readership in the legal profession are, and my time in politics taught me to use less precise and more hyperbolic language that newspapers might find quotable.

My point was that you thought it was notable that a MEP was behaving properly, in a way I expect you wouldn't have done about any other political movement.

There was a period in time when any mention of the Green Party in the press would be linked to a comment about the illegal activities of a few members of the similarly named Greenpeace. The Greens themselves behaved well, and eventually the comments about Greenpeace stopped. A few decades later, the Pirate Party find themselves in a similar situation with similarly named Pirate Bay.

My disappointment is that the Pirate Party hasn't yet reached the point where distinguished commentators such as yourself no longer feel the need to point out our good behaviour, because you could safely assume that your readers would take this good behaviour for granted.

Jeremy said...

Delighted to accept your apology -- and sorry to learn about your language difficulties. I must write more clearly next time.

The Green Party earned general respect through good policies, good communication and good behaviour. It's up to the PP to do likewise.

Tor said...

I have to agree with Andrew Robinson. I have never seen the Pirate Party work outside of the law to achieve its aims. And whether one agrees about their policies or not I cannot see any reason why they would at this point need to do anything more to prove their worthiness as democratic players. I think you would think better of the PP if you had followed the Swedish debate about wiretapping laws more closely.