Monday 21 May 2012

Pirate Party Plans for Copyright Reform

In recent weeks, copyright critics and author's rights aficionados in Germany have been waging a war of words in a multitude of open letters (eg here, here), newspaper articles (overview here) and at birthday brunches (or maybe that was just the birthday brunch I attended yesterday...). At the core of the debate is the political success of the Piratenparty ("Pirate Party") that runs, inter alia, on the slogan of "de-criminalisation of non-commercial file sharing". The Piratenpartei is keen to stress that they do not want to abolish copyright protection outright, but that they envisage a better deal for authors and users alike (at the expense of the much-loathed content industry). Others point out that "de-criminalisation" of file sharing amounts to much the same thing as the abolition of copyright.

This morning, the Piratenpartei published what they deem the ten most important issues that should be addressed in reforming the current copyright law (here). As it is only available in German, I have translated (and somewhat summarised) them below:

1) The term of protection shall be shortened to 10 years post mortem auctoris. Among other things, this would alleviate the orphan works problem.
2) Authors' shall receive stronger rights vis-à-vis right holders: authors shall regain their rights faster in case of non-exploitation and exclusive licences shall be limited to a maximum term of 25 years.
3) Beyond the initial purchase price, institutions of public education shall not be required to pay for using copyright works.
4) Libraries shall be entitled to store works in digital archives; free access for educational purposes shall be guaranteed.
5) The right to make private copies shall be defined and guaranteed; the creation of "remixes" and "mashups" shall be facilitated. Technological protection measures and digital rights management shall be abolished.
6) Basically the same as 2): reform of copyright contract law.
7) Private, direct, non-commercial file sharing and the passing on of works shall be de-criminalised.
8) New business models shall be developed (for instance "micropayment", crowd funding, levies). Authors shall receive equitable remuneration but data protection must be guaranteed; mutual trust and new distribution channels are essential.
9) The practice of sending warning letters to private individuals (asking them to cease and desist from infringing copyright and to pay the incurred attorneys' fees) shall be stopped; in order to have free WLAN networks, the concept of "Störerhaftung" ("disturbance liability" - secondary liability for someone else's infringement due to a breach of duty care) shall be abolished.
10) Copyright law shall meet the expectations of contemporary "media savvy" users and shall not restrict creative uses.

In addition, the Piratenpartei has appealed to authors, right holders and users to participate in a constructive dialogue on copyright law, with public debates concerning the following topics: collecting societies, rock and pop culture, classical music, authors/journalists, creators of films, software, and education/school (here). For each topic, there is a document on the Piratenpartei's website where anyone interested can add questions or comments to be discussed in the respective debate. The first two debates are scheduled for 6 June (on collecting society GEMA) and 7 June (on authors, journalists and photographers).


Paul Edward Geller said...

I looked at the sites to which the 1709 Blog linked for the German Pirate Party. They have so skewed the topics that any creatively global solution to the real problems of copyright online is obstructed. To start, how to solve these inevitably global problems on a purely national level in the purely national categories the German Pirate Party proposes? At a minimum they'd have to talk in terms of EU codification, if not international treaties. Note that I've no place on the Party's sites to make this critique.

Jessica said...

I wish those interested in copyright would learn that the income earned from intellectual property rights doesn't just keep the 'author' off the breadline but thousands of little people who all work in the world's entertainment industries and actually enable you or I to enjoy the various creative endeavours that are protected by copyright laws.
I worked in a small independent record company for a number of years. Without the ability to license rights and earn money from them for the company and the artist within a regulated commercial environment, I and my colleagues who did everything from admin to PR to artwork to distribution wouldn't have been able to earn our meagre wages.
Guess what, in recent years, online piracy has decimated the company I worked for and it has all but ceased to exist and all those people are now out of a job.
Piracy isn't just about big corporations or mega selling music/movie stars, you know.

Anonymous said...

"Guess what, in recent years, online piracy has decimated the company I worked for and it has all but ceased to exist and all those people are now out of a job."

Youve just assumed that have you? That there could be no other reason for you business running downhill?

Take it you didnt see the recent study which showed that piracy had either no effect or actually increased record sales?

Anonymous said...

Piracy is been a big problem in the Philippines. The government had to put up a department to deal with this alone. The Optical Media Board is what it came about and fortunately they have been doing good. Less pirated movies and records can be seen on the street. Lately they focused on illegal use of software and found out that even some companies practices such. An instance which happened last week where a call center company Garrett & Talon which has an in house account - JUSTFLOWERS was raided by the authority because of illegal use of operating system (windows). When OMB raided the company they found out that only 1 OS was legally bought and was used to run 100 or more PC's. The case is now on going. Kudos to OMB!