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European Parliament Blocks Copyright Reform With 113% Voter Turnout


Copyright Monopoly

Copyright Monopoly

In an unexpected turn of events, one of the key committees in the European Parliament voted recently to weaken a reform of the copyright monopoly for allowing re-publication and access to orphan works, pieces of our cultural heritage where no copyright monopoly holder can be located.

When a work has gone orphan, it means that it is effectively lost until the copyright monopoly expires, 70 years after the creator’s death. You can only hope that somebody has kept a copy illegally and copied it across new forms of storage media as they go in and out of fashion as the decades come and go, or it will be lost forever.

The vote in committee on March 1 was supposed to end that (or, more technically, recommend a course of ending that to the European Parliament as a whole). However, the copyright industry lobby won key points in the voting procedure with 14 votes against reform and 12 in favor of it, according to the just-published protocol. This is according to a fresh report from our Brussels office – I cannot yet find the protocol on the EU’s web pages (which are notoriously disorganized; it may actually be published).

There’s a problem with this. There are 24 seats in the committee, and one group (non-inscrits) was absent, lacking deputies to fill that person’s vote. So, there should have been 23 votes at the most. But we just counted 12 votes for reform and 14 against. That’s 26.

Yes, your reactions are correct here – that means that voter turnout on this copyright reform issue was 113%. Also, if there were 12 reform-friendly people with actual voting rights, then there would necessarily have been 11 against – causing reform to prevail, and the copyright monopoly to be substantially weakened in the European Union in favor of preserving our cultural heritage.

This rather embarrassing issue was pointed out to the committee, the fact that there were three votes too many, and that these three votes determined the outcome. When this was done, along with formally requesting a re-vote, that re-vote on the points in question was denied.

“What can I say? There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to democracy in the European Union”, says Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament for the Swedish Pirate Party and member of the committee in question.

The final kicker here is that the 113-per-cent voter turnout happened in the Legal Affairs committee (JURI), which has the responsibility of safeguarding the integrity and trustworthiness of the legal framework as a whole in Europe. MEP Engström’s assistant, Henrik Alexandersson, called the phenomenon “a temporary form of democratic surplus” in a scathing blog post.

(Finally, in the interest of full disclosure and context, it shall be said that there’s no clear picture yet on the overall state of orphan works reform. This was about amendments to that reform in the JURI committee, where these 14-against-12 votes went in the wrong direction: against a good and useful reform. The proposal as a whole is still going to the European Parliament floor for a vote – but in what shape or form remains to be seen.)

Just to point this out clearly, some people have linked the JURI protocol and said that these numbers are all wrong, that the dossier was accepted by a 22-0 vote with one abstention. This article does not refer to that vote, but to an amendment vote leading up to the final version. User JPMH on Slashdot found the 12-to-14 vote on video and was thus able to confirm the story, see Update 2 below.

UPDATED: The article originally mentioned the committee meeting as having taken place “last week”; this was due to a mistranslation from the source. It appears to have been March 1, see discussion in comments 8 to 8.2.

UPDATE 2, VIDEO DOCUMENTATION: Many have been asking for proof or documentation beyond eyewitnesses, and the swarm delivers, here in the shape of user JPMH on Slashdot. JPMH writes, “The agenda item starts at 10:27 [in the linked video], and the voting runs from 10:31 to 10:51. The amendment in question appears to be “Compromise 20″, voted on at 10:39, which is indeed rejected by 12 votes to 14.”

UPDATE 3: Glyn Moody points at the complaint from the Orphan Works rapporteur, Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg, about this. There was not only the 12-to-14 vote on Compromise 20 as mentioned, but also a 13-to-12 vote on amendment 71 and a 13-to-11 vote (still with 23 maximum possible votes) on amendment 32. At least three cases of “temporary democratic surplus”, for which the rapporteur requests clarification. Also, the rapporteur refers to these amendments as crucial.

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About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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  1. [...] EU har i dagarna därför ett sådant förslag precis röstats ner med rösterna 14-12. Det i sig är inte speciellt förvånande egentligen, det som däremot förvånar lite är att det [...]

  2. 2
    Dan Graves

    And these people are supposedly the good guys, looking out for our ‘best interests’…
    Good catch Mr. Falkvinge.

  3. 3
    Éibhear Ó hAnluain

    Reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently.

    Enda Kenny, Ireland’s Taoiseach (“prime-minister”) speaking to Vladimir Putin about the referendum that we’ll be having on the new fiscal treaty:

    - “I need 100% support for this treaty”

    - “Only 100%?”

  4. 4

    Denied? There were more votes than voters. What a bunch of political crap.

    I guess they have to buy time to clean up the evidence before the investigation into what the hell happened.

  5. 5
    Anne Nym

    There were more votes than voters. Change the stars on your flag to swastika please!

    • 5.1

      Nahh… Just a hammer and sickle will do.

      Make sure that whatever you do it’s on a Red background so it’ll be proper.

      • 5.1.1
        Paul Johnson

        You don’t get it: this isn’t a communist dictatorship telling the people what to do, its big capitalist companies telling the government what it must tell the people to do.

        Change the flag to a golden dollar sign.

  6. 6
    Tom Peterson

    Is it just me or has the copyright lobbying gotten way too strong lately that they are now able to pull something like this off, even in the EU? We need to find a way to stop them from becoming more powerful. We need to expose all of those involved in this and make examples out of them in public.

  7. 7

    A new vote was denied on what grounds??!? This is very serious and should be investigated. In fact, I feel that some people need to lose their jobs over this!

    Is there anything we little people can do to help?

  8. 8

    More facts, please. When exactly did this voting take place? Who observed it? According to http://www.europarl.europa.eu/comparl/juri/calendar_2012.pdf , the last JURI meeting took place on 1st March. Your post is from 14th March – way too long away than your mentioned “vote in committee last week”.

    I don’t like proof-less reporting. Please provide evidence. Then I’ll be happy to share your post around.

    • 8.1
      Rick Falkvinge

      You’re right on the timing. The blog post from the MEP assistant I am referring to actually used the Swedish term häromveckan, which usually refers to last week, but the literal translation is the other week — i.e., recently.

      It was observed by the linked MEP in the committee, who I called personally to verify the story after reading about it on his assistant’s blog.

      • 8.1.1

        So you read a blog post then called the source of the blog post to verify the blog post? That is not journalism nor credible. “It’s true because I said it is.”

        I’m not saying it is not true, just that this was not properly sourced or confirmed.

    • 8.2

      The order of business for the March 1 meeting lists a vote related to orphan works between 10:00-10:30 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/JURI/publications.html

  9. [...] Vom Thema her verwandt: In einem Komitee des Europaparlaments, in dem natürlich auch die Content-Mafia sitzt, wird über sogenannte verwaiste Werke verhandelt. Natürlich kommen alle Forderungen der Content-Mafia durch. Sie gewinnt die Abstimmung mit 14 zu 12 Stimmen, ob die Rechtslage bei verwaisten Werken reformiert werden soll. Haken: In dem Komitee gibt es nur 24 Sitze und einer davon war unbesetzt. Wo kommen die insgesamt 26 Stimmen her?! Es handelt sich übrigens um folgendes Komitee:  “The Legal Affairs committee (JURI), which has the responsibility of safeguarding the integrity and trustworthiness of the legal framework as a whole in Europe.” No Shit, Sherlock! Teilen Sie dies mit:FacebookTwitterDiggRedditE-MailGefällt mir:Gefällt mirSei der Erste, dem dieser post gefällt. Dieser Beitrag wurde unter imperiale Politik, Netzwelt, verbale Diarrhoe abgelegt und mit ACTA, Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, Content-Mafia, IPRED, Wirtschaftsdialog für mehr Kooperation bei der Bekämpfung der Internetpiraterie verschlagwortet. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink. ← “Buchkram März 2012 – Planetenkrieg & A Rising Thunder” [...]

  10. 9

    maybe we should get advice from Russia about how to make voting a publicly visible event.

  11. 10

    Putin is amused: 9gag.com/gag/3362291

  12. 11

    The story is without proof and is also false – orphan reform was passed in committee and will presumably succeed in parliament. Oh yeah, but that means less money for Pirate Bay http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/pressroom/content/20120227IPR39358/html/Orphan-works-soon-to-be-online

  13. 12

    OK. This is real bad. Facebook is teaming up with political forces to censor (at least) Falkvinge. Linking to this blog is impossible on fb.

    Seeing how the site “trebots” is linking to uses facebook only makes this far worse than I had imagined. Facebook is becoming a combined megaphone & censoring device for the corporate political elite.

  14. 13

    The votes should be available at http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/JURI/publications.html

    Howver, the document in question is dated 29 February and contains no actual voting information: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201203/20120301ATT39564/20120301ATT39564EN.pdf

  15. 14

    “The Committee adopted the amended Commission proposal and the draft legislative resolution by 22 votes in favour and 1 abstention.”
    (point 8)


  16. 15

    Not sure if comments must be enabled by the author, if so please delete this comment and only enable the earlier one of me. ^^
    “The Committee adopted the amended Commission proposal and the draft legislative resolution by 22 votes in favour and 1 abstention.”

    • 15.1

      oh sorry, i’m an impatient moron. ^^
      But srsly, how can the official vote result differ that much?

    • 15.2

      The keyword is “adopted the amended proposal”. The voting numbers I refer to above are the vote counts for those amendments (see the last point).

      Again, this is based on eyewitness accounts from the actual meeting.

      • 15.2.1

        Can’t you even clarify which amendments are you refering to, so that we can check the official sources instead of believing blindly to hearsay? Since you are claiming that they are key points, of course you are already aware what exactly they are, so share their number and while you are on it please explain why they are key points.

        • gurra

          What about the ACTA negotiations… They were kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. Tell us why we should beleive any “official claims” in the first place?

      • 15.2.2

        Thanks for your answer, can’t wait until more members of that commitee come out into the open.

  17. [...] im Europäischen Parlament ein Abstimmungsergebnis von 113 Prozent zustande [...]

  18. [...] here:http://falkvinge.net/2012/03/14/european-parliament-blocks-copyright-reform-with-113-voter-turnout/ window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({ appId : '237351279680926', // App ID status : true, [...]

  19. 16

    Hmm, strange, I just tried posting to Facebook, and the vertical bar throbber thought about it for a while then stopped, no post. Same again when i try to click Post again. Same on my actual profile page.

  20. 17

    As a Russian, I want to congratulate my European neighbors with achieving the same superior level of democracy that my country has so long enjoyed alone.

  21. 18

    Can’t undestand the clain; 23 seats and 22 votes given (1 absent). How does one count the 113% vote count?

    • 18.1
      Scary Devil Monastery

      The vote was tallied at 14-12. This makes the sum of votes counted 26.

      However, the entire committee as a whole has 23 voters(!), one of whom was absent.

      I.e. 3 people more voted than should have been able to vote. Or somehow some votes were counted twice. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

  22. 19

    Can’t undestand the claim; 23 seats and 22 votes given with 1 absent.
    How does one count the 113% vote count?

  23. 20

    This article seems to be a hoax.

    “The Committee adopted the amended Commission proposal and the draft legislative resolution by 22 votes in favour and 1 abstention”


  24. [...] European Parliament Blocks Copyright Reform With 113% Voter Turnout Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

  25. 21
    john werneken

    A good example of why I am unalterably opposed to Government and to Public Policy and to public Agencies and to Public Laws and to Public Services, in any form whatsoever, except such as exclusively address external defense, internal justice, a currency of stable value, and whatever is necessary to address and decide about these things in a systematic way, and to the extent necessary, to establish and to maintain and to defend the over-all structure (aka a Decent Government) that does these things and only these things. Something that does all this and no more, it does not matter who runs it in fact if it’s possible to set something like this up – it has happened a few times so I know it’s possible – the only relevance of governance democratic or otherwise is as to dealing with mortality and succession and what that means for continuance and stability of the Government. After all, the sole known benefits of Democracy are continuance and stability.

    I specifically include IP as one of the things that no Government should have ANYTHING to say about. Legally there should be no such thing as IP and no law about it. Sounds like the EU may be about to do something right besides having a common market instead of the traditional military civil wars, by striking a blow against Copy Wrong.

  26. [...] safeguard the “integrity and trustworthiness of the legal framework as a whole in Europe” has voted 14-12 on a copyrights issue, even though the committee has only 24 members. This has been aptly called “a temporary form of democratic surplus.” Is it a fruit of the [...]

  27. [...] ¿El problema? El comité de Asuntos Legales tiene 23 miembros. Y la última vez que me fijé, 14+12=26. [...]

  28. 22

    Thank you for the nice post… too bad it’s all false propaganda. Well done, perfect example of bad journalism.

  29. 23

    Mr. Falkvinge
    Thank you for the clarification that the item in question is “Compromise 20″. This makes it possible to contact the relevant officials for the explanation about your claim that there was some fraud in the voting.

    Now, could you explain, why this one amentment among more than a hundred amentments is a key point? You are claiming that “, the copyright industry lobby won key points in the voting procedure ” but nowhere in your text do I find even a hint about that what the amentment was about. Since you are ready to make this kind of claims surely you are already aware what the amentment that you are speaking of is about and answering to this question should be easy?

    • 23.1
      Rick Falkvinge

      Dear T.,

      you keep asking me as if I were the authoritative source. I am not. I am refering to authoritative sources in JURI, as I have already explained; I do not have first-hand knowledge and so, I will not speculate.

      • 23.1.1

        You already did, when you claimed that “, the copyright industry lobby won key points in the voting procedure “.

        If you cannot back your claim, it looks like your whole post was just a propaganda move to paint once again European Unions institution as Bad Guys and yourself as some sort of hero by revealing them. However this seems to be based on falsehoods. You cannot throw these kind of speculations that you do in the original post and then say that you will not speculate when somebody asks you to prove them.

        • Rick Falkvinge

          Dear T,

          First, of course I have the prerogative of writing whatever I want on my own blog. I find that quite beyond dispute. My model of reporting may be one you’re not used to, but I use swarm techniques a lot – publish what I have heard from reputable sources, and fill in the details as they come (which they do).

          Second, relating to that, Glyn Moody found the original complaint from the rapporteur, which describes the amendments in question as crucial. I hope this source is authoritative enough to meet your bar; see Update 3 in the post.


        • F

          BOOOM PWNED

  30. 24

    Some people voted both “for” and “against”, this is not fraud, just human error (or stupidity). I imagine this happens quite a lot if people work with this all day long, voting no yes no yes for several hours.

    • 24.1

      I suppose that’s possible. The lack of willingness to do an immediate recount is at best foolish, and at worse a declaration that this is what was expected, however.


  31. 25

    And they say politics in Chicago (U.S.A.) is corrupt. The JURI committee makes the Chicago City Council, US Congress, etc. look like a bunch of Baden-Powell’s boys.

  32. 26
    Tomka Gergely

    The JURI comitte has a lot of members, 40-50 or so. So someone must have arrived late.

  33. 27

    I am not happy about this fraud for a number of reasons. I practice Massage and often have my patients listen to music, I don’t want somebody trying to come in and sue me for doing this.

  34. 28

    “a temporary form of democratic surplus”

    That’s what Vladimir Putin said when accused of carousel voting.

  35. 29

    Surely, a re-vote should not have been rejected, however, why is everyone assuming the three extra votes were all against reform? Didn’t see anyone mention that…
    This brings forth the point I’m trying, in vain, to promote myself:

    All votes (in any election) MUST be published to count! Anything else is just religion.

  36. 30

    its alright, because for every 100k “donated” by someone, they add a vote, its a secret though, so don’t tell anyone :P

    “And then God said, do not recount votes even in impossibility, for they are the object of my work” this should be added to the bible, since this is obviously a divine intervention, for the gvt to not be able to recount.

  37. 31
    Angry Voter

    Government is organized crime and should be treated as such.

  38. [...] Polish Member of the European Parliament, Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg. As Rick Falkvinge writes, things didn't go too well for those hoping to free up orphan works for modern use: the copyright industry lobby won key points in the voting procedure with 14 votes against reform [...]

  39. 32

    They where obviously using Copyright industry math to count the votes, duh.

  40. 33

    The compromise 20 can be found in the appendix of the linked document. (Document was available when the original post was published, it wasn’t hard to locate and I do find it quite strange that the content of it among the information what amentmend the vote was about weren’t checked first when the story was published. Those would have been the first things for me to ask if someone had told me about this kind of thing.) See for yourself how it fits to the description of “copyright industry lobby won key points in the voting procedure “.


    As for the update 3, the rapporteur refers as crucial all the amendtments she took notes, not just this one. Also what she means by crucial doesn’t mean same as what the original post claims about the importancy of this particular voting.

    No, I am not familiar with this techique of using swarm, to me it seems just a reporting without fact-checking first. I would not put such trust to it that details “will come”.

    That being said I do find this whole episode something that should be corrected, and do take it quite seriously especially after the rapporteurs letter. What I disagree with are Mr. Falkvinges way of presenting this and with some conspiracy theories that are hinted in the original posts tone and said quite directly in the comments.

  41. [...] попаднах на тази новина. Като гражданин съм възмутен. Като българин не съм [...]

  42. 34

    I hope this ultimately passes, it will be great fun to relicense abandoned free-software projects with licenses the original maintainer clearly did not intend.

  43. [...] Polish Member of the European Parliament, Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg. As Rick Falkvinge writes, things didn't go too well for those hoping to free up orphan works for modern use: the copyright industry lobby won key points in the voting procedure with 14 votes against reform [...]

  44. [...] an interesting twist of parliamentary voting, a sub-committee of the EU Parliament was voting on a reform for how orphan copyrighted works are handled, had a 113% voting member [...]

  45. [...] попаднах на тази новина. Като гражданин съм възмутен. Като българин не съм [...]

  46. [...] European Parliament Blocks Copyright Reform With 113% Voter Turnout – Falkvinge on Infopolicy [...]

  47. [...] comité du Parlement européen d’un projet de directive européenne sur les oeuvres orphelines, le vote a été purement et simplement truqué,  alors (parce que ?) que le texte allait dans le sens d’un accès plus libre au savoir ! Voilà [...]

  48. [...] bien plus symptomatique, d’un vote bidonné au sein du Parlement Européen. Ce bidonnage a été rapporté par un Falkvinge assez consterné. Pour mémoire, Falkvinge est le Suédois leader du Parti Pirate dont quelques [...]

  49. [...] a la UE continuen frenant propostes que relaxen el copyright, votant més dels que deuen si cal [...]

  50. [...] a esperar a una nueva votación. Con suerte, en menos de 70 años sacan adelante la reforma. Vía | Falkvinge & Co Foto | Anca Pandrea En Nación Red | La comisaria Kroes explota: “los derechos de autor son [...]

  51. [...] the God-button. Policy-making is not perfect because human beings are human beings. We succumb to temptation. You can’t HAVE your perfect copyright law, it will always metastasize into a greater and greater [...]

  52. [...] for complete adoption was shot down by 12-10. (Yes, this is the same JURI that has previously had a 113% voter turnout when rejecting copyright reforms, and the same Marielle Gallo that authored the infamous and [...]

  53. [...] that got its way in the magical poll that killed Orphan Works availability in Europe in a vote with 113% voter turnout in the Legal Affairs [...]

  54. 35

    So, what’s the latest on this?

  55. 36

    Yeah, what happened here? Did this get fixed? If not, how do we make a stink about it?

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Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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