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Czech Copyright Bill Undercuts Copyleft, Artists 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the czech-please dept.
Andorin writes "Earlier this month a copy of a draft of the Czech Republic's new Copyright Act [Czech PDF] was leaked to Pirate News. Included among several disturbing provisions are new regulations for 'public licenses' such as Creative Commons licenses and the GPL/BSD licenses. The amendment essentially requires that an artist wishing to use a public license must notify the administrator of a collecting agency, and must prove that they created the work in question. This goes against one of the strengths of Creative Commons and other licenses, namely the ease with which they can be applied. Additionally, collecting agencies will have increased jurisdiction over copylefted and orphaned works. ZeroPaid covers the story, noting that the amendment also reduces the royalties which artists receive from libraries by 40%, with that money instead going directly to publishers."
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Czech Copyright Bill Undercuts Copyleft, Artists

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  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday August 27, 2010 @09:25AM (#33392334) Homepage

    I admit I was furious on property/creative rights grounds at first, but then it struck me that enforcement of copyleft could become extremely difficult at some point for the government. The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a CC license on it and you had every right to do that. As people reuse it and modify it, if it goes to trial, the government has to hunt down the entire chain back to the original content in order to respect due process rights.

    Their solution is wrong. The easiest way to solve it would be to pass a law which requires Copyleft to be stated, in writing in a copyright office application. Otherwise, the government would take the approach of saying that if your Copyleft license is violated, it is 100% on you to prove in court since you didn't register it in advance under penalty of perjury.

  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Friday August 27, 2010 @09:40AM (#33392524)
    "Who here knows about Czech law that can enlighten us on the likelihood of this becoming real/passed/enforced?"

    Depends on who ponies up the cash to pay off the right people. The Czech Republic has some of the highest rates of corruption in the OECD according to wikipedia. Take it with a grain of salt.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @09:45AM (#33392586)

    Isn't this a violation of the Berne Convention?

    According to Wikipedia:

    Under the Convention, copyrights for creative works are automatically in force upon their creation without being asserted or declared. An author need not "register" or "apply for" a copyright in countries adhering to the Convention. As soon as a work is "fixed", that is, written or recorded on some physical medium, its author is automatically entitled to all copyrights in the work and to any derivative works, unless and until the author explicitly disclaims them or until the copyright expires. Foreign authors are given the same rights and privileges to copyrighted material as domestic authors in any country that signed the Convention.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @09:58AM (#33392756)

    I don't know the copyright situation in the Czech Republic but the royalties situation was corrupt everywhere. Bands who released on an indy label and received massive play on local stations wouldn't get a fair royality because local stations were always under represented in the limited sample of playlist stats for a given period.

    With the internet, I'd question if we need collection agencies at all. This development and sideline squarking over compulsory licensing in the EU show the agencies also recognise their impending and inevitable redundancy. The berne convention doesn't state that works must be registered to receive copyright protection. So any Czech legislation to this effect would be unenforcable.

  • Re:Speechless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grahamm (8844) <gmurray@webwayone.co.uk> on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:01AM (#33392788) Homepage

    Taking things a bit out of context? It's not actively making it harder, it's just making it so that people actually have to show they have a right to license the content that way.

    Yet does the same not apply to any creative work?. Should people who use a commercial licence not also have to prove that they have the right to licence it - and that it is not plagiarism?

  • Re:Speechless (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rantomaniac (1876228) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:05AM (#33392852)

    It's not actively making it harder, it's just making it so that people actually have to show they have a right to license the content that way. How would you like it if you released something under a particular license, and then somebody else got the content, then put it out under some other license which you didn't approve of? Maybe the Czech government just wants to be sure that anything they're being asked to protect in certain ways is actually being done right.

    I don't see how it needs special casing, it's copyright infringement. I'm no fan of the Berne Convention, but it requires copyright to be automatic and involve no formal registration. It's only fair to either uphold that treaty for both copyright and copyleft, or neither.
    Neither would be the preferred solution. Registration would simplify a lot of things and ensure survival of works throughout the ages if coupled with compulsory archival in national libraries.
    You could even legitimately call unauthorized use or fraudulent registration of unregistered works "theft" then.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:24AM (#33393086)

    If I write a book, and wish to live on it, I prefer to be able to sell that book, and not worry about somebody undercutting me or just taking advantage of their lack of costs of writing it.

    And no, I don't want to be forced to merchandise it, or hold my hypothetical readers hostage by refusing to release more until I get enough money.

    As for Derivative works, some of us get attached to our stories and don't like others messing with them while we're alive. Go figure.

  • by next_ghost (1868792) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:00AM (#33393572)
    The article was written in Czech for Czech readers so it doesn't say some facts about Czech copyright law that may not be obvious to foreigners. First, Czech collecting societies have complete monopoly over their culture area once they register. The law also states that collecting societies don't need any contract for collecting royalties from TV, radio and their Internet equivalents. That means that if you start an Internet radio, you have to pay royalties even for most CC-licensed music. The registration is there to opt out from this. This draft is a nice example of what happens when collecting societies get to write copyright law while the big media is busy lobbying somewhere else. They write the law for themselves.
  • by lexidation (1825996) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:00AM (#33393574)
    Take it from someone inside the Czech Republic. The reason: this is still not a full democracy in the Western sense. Corruption is still rampant. And that extends all the way up to Parliament. If you think lobbyists in your country have power over legislators -- try living in this place. Translation: if anyone with an interest in destroying copyleft has enough money or interesting favours to pass to the politicians, the bill gets passed. Meanwhile the Prime Minister, like one of our recent ones, may well turn up standing on a beach in Italy somewhere with a boner. Will the Czech people do anything to protest? Even the ones who understand this issue will not. After fifty years of the old regime, no one feels any power to stop what the politicians do. This is precisely the dynamic they take advantage of to pass things like this. It is the perfect location to set this kind of precedent.
  • by Shoe Puppet (1557239) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:16AM (#33393798)

    A few weeks ago, I read an article about the lack of copyright in Germany in the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. Compared to England - where copyright had been introduced a long time ago - there were significantly more books available at cheaper prices. The authors were paid better, too.

    Here it is:
    Google Translation [googleusercontent.com] / Original German [spiegel.de]

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:34AM (#33394038) Homepage Journal

    Except that the actual truth is on the exact opposite side of the spectrum.

    Fashion industry [nytimes.com] shows how profitable it is [ssrn.com], especially compared to most other industries, and in Fashion industry there are no copyrights or patents. Sure there are trademarks, but no copyrights or patents at all, and they are highly creative and profitable, thus proving your position inconsistent with reality.

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