Huge Victory As EU Party Group Adopts Pirate Perspective On Copyright Monopoly
Copyright Monopoly – Rick Falkvinge
The fifth largest party group in the European Parliament has adopted the Pirate Party positions on the copyright monopoly straight off the bat.
This is a huge victory for the pirate perspective. Just like the Greens needed time and effort in their time to explain their new and odd perspective, the pirate perspective of openness, transparency and accountability gradually gains its foothold. Now, the European Green group (of which the Swedish Pirate Party is a member) has adopted the Pirate Party’s perspective on culture completely. This expands the exposure area of the pirate perspective considerably.
(A primer on the European Parliament is that it is not composed of individual parties, but of party groups. The elected parties join together in groups. There are seven such groups in the European Parliament, and these groups act like individual parties would in a national parliament.)
These are the positions on the copyright monopoly that are now adopted by the Green party group:
- It must be made absolutely clear that the copyright monopoly does not extend to what an ordinary person can do with ordinary equipment in their home and spare time; it regulates commercial, intent-to-profit activity only. Specifically, file sharing is always legal.
- There must be exceptions that make it legal to create mashups and remixes. Quotation rights, like those that exist for text, must be extended to sound and video.
- Digital Restrictions Management should preferably be outlawed, as it is a type of fraud nullifying consumer and citizen rights, but at least, it must always be legal to circumvent.
- The baseline commercial copyright monopoly is shortened to a reasonable five years from publication, extendable to twenty years through registration of the work.
- The public domain must be strengthened.
And a bonus unrelated to the copyright monopoly:
- Net neutrality must be guaranteed.
This is a huge win for the pirate perspective on culture and knowledge and an advancement of our positions by miles and leagues. Also, I understand that more people in Parliament are interested in the newly-adopted perspective. This progress keeps on mirroring when the Green perspective entered politics 40 years ago.
We were elected to the European Parliament in 2009 with the promise of fostering understanding, endorsement, and adoption of the pirate perspective on society. This is the largest delivery on that promise to date.
Here is a link to the freshly-adopted position paper. The entire paper is worth reading, but the really interesting parts are paragraphs 23 to 26, 28, and 29, quoted below, with emphasis by me:
§23. Up until twenty years ago, copyright [monopoly] was hardly anything that concerned ordinary people. The rules about exclusivity on the production of copies where aimed at commercial actors, who had the means to, for example, print books or press records. Private citizens who wanted to copy a poem and send to their loved one, or copy a record to cassette and give it to a friend, did not have to worry about being in breach of copyright. In practice, anything you had the technical means to do as a normal person, you could do without risk of any punishment.
But today, copyright has evolved to a position where it imposes serious restrictions on what ordinary citizens can do in their everyday life. As technological progress has made it easier for ordinary people to enjoy and share culture, copyright legislation has moved in the opposite direction. We want to restore copyright to its origins, and make absolutely clear that it only regulates copying for commercial purposes. To share copies, or otherwise spread or make use of use somebody else’s copyrighted work, should never be prohibited if it is done non-commercially and without a profit motive. Peer-to-peer file sharing is an example of such an activity that should be legal.
§24. DRM is an acronym for “Digital Rights Management” or “Digital Restrictions Management”. The term is used to denote a number of different technologies that all aim to restrict consumers’ and citizens’ ability use and copy works, even when they have a legal right to do so. It must always be legal to circumvent DRM restrictions, and we should consider introducing a ban in the consumer rights legislation on DRM technologies that restrict legal uses of a work. There is no point in having our parliaments introduce a balanced and reasonable copyright legislation, if at the same time we allow the big multinational corporations to write their own laws, and enforce them through technical means.
§25. Much of today’s entertainment industry is built on the commercial exclusivity on copyrighted works. This, we want to preserve. But today’s protection times — life plus 70 years — are absurd. No investor would even look at a business case where the time-to-payback was that long. We want to shorten the protection time to something that is reasonable from both society’s and an investor’s point of view, and propose 20 years from publication.
§26. Today, works that are still in copyright but where it is impossible or difficult to locate the rights owner is a major problem. The majority of these works have little or no commercial value, but since they are still covered by copyright, they cannot be reused or distributed because there is nobody to ask for permission. Rights owners who want to continue to exercise their commercial exclusivity on work they already produced should register them within 5 years. This would greatly reduce the number of orphan works and facilitate diligent search.
§27. The problem of orphan works urgently needs to be solved. […goes into details that don’t originate in pirate policy, but aren’t antithetical either…].
§28. From now, and within a time frame of 5 years after the production, registration of copyright work should be compulsory for authors to enjoy commercial exclusivity. This would greatly limit the existence [of] orphan works in the future.
§29. Today’s ever more restrictive copyright legislation and practice is a major obstacle to musicians, film makers, and other artists who want to create new works by reusing parts of existing works. We want to change this by introducing clear exceptions and limitations to allow remixes and parodies, as well as quotation rights for sound and audiovisual material modelled after the quotation rights that already exist for text.
Huge winnage. Let’s keep it up. People who are exposed to the pirate ideas and perspectives, and whose paycheck do not depend on the opposite, always connect the dots after some time of exposure. With this new large exposure area, and the recent successes by German Piratenpartei, I predict that understanding and endorsement of the pirate perspective will accelerate.