from the didn’t-see-that-coming,-did-you? dept
While some try to write off the Pirate Party’s positions on things because of its name (and I still believe its name limits the party’s effectiveness), it appears that more and more people are recognizing that its positions on things like copyright aren’t particularly extreme, but rather are quite reasonable in this day and age. Along those lines, the EU Green Party group has adopted the Pirate Party’s positions on copyright as its own:
- 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.
I guess you could say that the Greens “pirated” the Pirate Party’s position… but somehow I don’t think the Pirate Party minds. The Greens have put out a position paper on this (pdf and embedded below), which lays out their reasoning. The whole thing is worth reading, but a few snippets:
Up until twenty years ago, copyright 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 every-day life. As technological progress has made it easier for ordinary people to enjoy and share culture, copyright legislation has moved in the opposite direction.
I certainly don’t agree with everything in the position statement, but it’s the most reasonable policy proposal I’ve seen in a long time. They focus on letting individuals be able to share for non-commercial reasons (which I like in concept, but worry about how you define what is commercial and what is non-commercial). It also supports granting the legal right to circumvent DRM, and a ban on DRM that blocks legal uses of a work. Not surprisingly, the paper takes aim at the length of copyright — calling it “absurd” — and proposes a much shorter copyright, starting at 20 years. It also wants to deal with orphan works and bring back formalities (the need to register and reregister to keep your copyrights). Of course, with 5 year reregistration requirements, it would mean that the problem of orphan works would more or less erase itself… as the lack of a copyright renewal would put the content in the public domain where it belongs. There’s also this:
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.
Definitely nice to see a major political party willing to actually state that copyright today harms tons of musicians, filmmakers and artists who are limited by it.
Either way, this is great to see. Supporters of the copyright maximalist position continue to insist that those who are concerned about copyright and wish to pull it back are somehow on the “fringe.” It’s pretty obvious that’s not true — given the level of activity we see on these kinds of stories. But with a major political party adopting this position, it’s yet another step towards realizing that lots and lots of people are quite concerned about how copyright is holding back culture.