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EU Copyright Reform: Your Input Is Needed! 154

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the public-domain-needs-a-bit-of-help dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The European Commission has finally (as of last month) opened its public consultation on copyright reform. This is the first time the general public can influence EU copyright policy since fifteen years back, and it is likely at least as much time will pass until next time. In order to help you fill out the (English-only, legalese-heavy) questionnaire, some friendly hackers spent some time during the 30c3 to put together a site to help you. Anyone, EU citizen or not, organization or company, is invited to respond (deadline fifth of February). Pirate MEP Amelia Andersdotter has a more in-depth look at the consultation."
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EU Copyright Reform: Your Input Is Needed!

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  • by mark-t (151149) <> on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:18AM (#45884953) Journal

    Do *NOT* create any kind of web interface which automatically will send a letter to them based on some kind of template.

    Someone who was very well meaning in Canada did this during our copyright consultation and the results backfired heavily... they received a staggering number of submissions, but because of the lack of effort that it takes to simply use a website, fill in your name in an appropriate field and hit "submit" without altering any of the letter content, and the fact that a very significant majority of the letter submissions were unaltered verbatim copies of one particular website's letter, the government chose to completely ignore those submissions... although the remainder of submissions that said similar ideas but were not based on that template still accounted for a majority of the total submissions, discounting that many submissions entirely almost certainly had a negative impact on how the government interpreted the consultation and the actions that they took in the aftermath of it. If even a quarter of those so called automated submissions had been an original letter from a concerned citizen which expressed the same basic ideas, I expect that the government may have interpreted the results of that consultation very differently than they did.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:31AM (#45885009) Homepage

    Most of the EU contries are signatories to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) [] treaty. That sets a minimum copyright term of 50 years. Many EU countries now have longer copyright terms, after heavy lobbying from the US music industry.

    So suggest that the EU should harmonize their nations' laws by using the 50 year TRIPS limit. The EU can do with without renegotiating any external treaties. Few works over 50 years old generate significant revenues, and longer terms just keep many works orphaned and forgotten, rather than in the public domain.

    This would set a de-facto worldwide standard of 50 years. The US, with its much longer terms, would then be the major exception, and would be under pressure to reduce its copyright term.

    It's a goal that's within reach. Whining about "copyright is evil" wiil get nowhere. Asking the EU to harmonize their laws with the WTO standard has a good chance of playing well in Brussels.

  • by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:51AM (#45885097)
    Copyright is made out of people. This isn't a joke or being funny, by the way and as a result it will NEVER be "right".

    Since copyright is made out of people, and people come up with laws to try to maximize productivity and creation, there will always be scavengers and predators looking to exploit copyright for private gain.

    Google, for example, loves weaker copyright protection so they can sell 3rd party content. Media companies and small-time authors love copyright because it rewards the creation of works.

    Meanwhile, fans dislike copyright because it creates an imbalance between quality vs. convenience (cracked software is ALWAYS better) or availability (a movie or game isn't available in a certain region or is no longer sold).

    Because copyright is made of out of people, there isn't going to be a "final solution" --- it must always be subject to revision because any legal system is subject to exploits.

    I'm not implying "you shouldn't try", actually I'm saying you always SHOULD try to improve it.

    But the results will be imperfect next time too ... because there are always at least 2 angles for exploit (the too lax exploit and the too strict exploit). This will, in fact, be a perpetual issue ...
  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @01:59AM (#45885131) Homepage

    There's only one month left, don't procrastinate too long.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @02:19AM (#45885205)

    This would set a de-facto worldwide standard of 50 years.

    I appreciate that there is an element of fighting for what you can realistically achieve in political matters. I'm also generally in favour of retaining the basic principle of copyright, at least until a better idea for promoting the creation and distribution of new works comes along.

    Even so, I think the fundamental problem with your position is that it still implicitly accepts that a copyright term comparable to many humans' adult lifetimes is reasonable. With the rise of modern technologies, a much shorter term would still provide a substantial commercial incentive to create and share new works, without locking up aspects of our culture to the same degree. I'm open to discussions on the specifics for different types of work and for special cases like orphan works or works that continue to be developed over time, but I would expect a period of no more than 10-20 years from public disclosure should be more than adequate in just about any case today.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 07, 2014 @04:01AM (#45885511)

    Hi! Original submitter here. We're well aware of this - hence if you check out the site, it's based on making the questions easy to understand and answer in your own words, rather than to have pre-filled responses.

    The point is to get many, varied, and good responses, preferrably in many different (EU) languages as well, so the Commission can't ignore them (at least not without looking like absolute asshats).

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman