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Czech Copyright Bill Undercuts Copyleft, Artists 282

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 whisper_jeff ( 680366 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:19AM (#33392266)
    Won't somebody please think of the artists?

    Isn't that the rallying cry of the copyright cartels?...
  • Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rantomaniac ( 1876228 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:23AM (#33392302)

    I'm stunned. This has to be the most brutal attack on the idea of free culture to date. We're all accustomed to copyright being made more strict, but actively making it harder to release your works under permissive licensing is a new low.
    It's like the copyright lobbyists didn't care about keeping a low profile anymore and shouted "we own your government" from the rooftops.

  • must be piracy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:25AM (#33392318)
    It must be "piracy" that is making them broke. The piracy committed by those who claim to be protecting and/or representing them. Disgusting.
  • Re:Speechless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:26AM (#33392340)

    It costs more money to hide what they're doing and achieve their goals in secret.
    They just realized theres no point in hiding it any more.

    Its not like the reality tv addicted people of generation-emo will do anything anyway.

  • by rantomaniac ( 1876228 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:31AM (#33392406)

    I don't see how it's fair to demand registration of copyleft and not other copyrighted works. Enforcement of copyright is (and should remain) a private not criminal matter, the government doesn't have to hunt anyone down. I imagine the authors of the work will show up in court if they file infrigement charges.

  • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:36AM (#33392472)

    Us: It's a bad law.

    Them: But, it's a law! There must be a good reason! Why do you think about stuff like this!?!

  • Still just a draft (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:36AM (#33392476)
    Although I feel as many others do, that this has obscenely nefarious elements, my indignation is slightly lessened when I remember this is still only a draft. Who here knows about Czech law that can enlighten us on the likelihood of this becoming real/passed/enforced?
  • by 2obvious4u ( 871996 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:39AM (#33392514)
    Better solution, get rid of copyright entirely. Society is producing content at to fast a clip for it to be necessary any more. You produce a work and by the end of the week someone has already produced a derivative work. All this copyright stuff does is slow down progress.

    If you are worried about how content creators get paid then you haven't thought about it long enough. Content as a service, that is the new model. If you can't sell your content as a service to customers or businesses then the other option is merchandising, make a physical good that can be confiscated for trademark violations and earn your money off of that.
  • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:41AM (#33392532) Homepage

    It would be interresting if the same laws were to be applied to all copyright licenses. Want to publishing something closed source? "notify the administrator of a collecting agency, and must prove that they created the work in question".

  • copyleft is simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:45AM (#33392574) Homepage Journal

    Or treat copyleft as a license, a form of contract. And settle disputes in a court, presenting evidence that the license was applied to an original creation. Which is how it manages to survive in the rest of Europe.

  • by WankersRevenge ( 452399 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:45AM (#33392580)
    Government exists to serve the interests of the people ... not vice versa.
  • Re:Speechless (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:50AM (#33392660)

    Our reply should be: Don't quote laws to us, we carry swords.
    Just to keep it Roman

  • Re:Speechless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:51AM (#33392670) Homepage

    I'm stunned. This has to be the most brutal attack on the idea of free culture to date.

    Er, more like the most brutal (and direct) attack in recent times, or most brutal attack from the copyright lobby sure... I mean, when it was Czechoslovakia and under the Soviets, I think free culture took a worse beating.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:54AM (#33392694) Journal

    Sure. The media pigopolists are thinking of the artists. Specifically, how to get more money out of their hands and into the publishing interest's own.

    This kind of legalized extortion isn't reflexive, you know. It takes a fair bit of thinking, plus the scruples of a stoat, to invoke the cause of your own victim in support of your victimization.

  • Re:S peechless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eleuthero ( 812560 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:57AM (#33392728)
    While the above is probably rightly marked flamebait, there is a truth hidden in the midst of it. Czech policies on some level have been causing massive migration of Romi to France and Italy, sparking off the recent debate over who's allowed to be in what country (despite fairly broad travel agreements under EU treaty).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @10:58AM (#33392754)

    Isn't that the rallying cry of the copyright cartels?...

    Well of course. The rules of this game are simple and obvious: 1) Maximize profits 2) justify your means after the fact.

    Win the hearts by saying "we protect the little guy" while simultaneously taking for yourself all the value generated by the little guy, and keeping him indentured to you indefinitely. This is nothing new or secret. It happens in plain view of the public all the time.

    The public doesn't like to bother checking facts and buys the corporate line, so strategies like this work well.

    Rich people got rich by learning how to use their wealth to create even more wealth. So they spend money to lobby their government to pass laws that force an increase in their own wealth, to the detriment of everyone else.

    And they win, because we let them.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:06AM (#33392862) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I'm for everyone regardless of license being required to register. If the copyright office can't find the rights holder, then the work should be public domain. Not having a registration requirement makes the "orphaned works" problem much worse.

  • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:13AM (#33392968) Homepage

    > Face it. The age of the freetard is over. It's time to pay people what their work is worth. Freeloader.

    What if the AUTHOR declares that price to be ZERO.

    Why should a Robber Baron Wannabe such as yourself have ANY say in the matter?

    This is an assault on the rights of AUTHORS.

    People who whine "freetard" should be all over this.

    Of course that word doesn't really mean anything.

  • Re:Speechless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:18AM (#33393006)
    You do realize that a LOT of infringement actually occurs by proprietary companies, right? FFMPEG, LAME, Busybox, and many other FOSS projects have been repeatedly subject to violations of their licenses. When it comes to track records, 'public licenses' have fared far better than 'standard' licenses when it comes to actually respecting copyright law.
  • by DarkKnightRadick ( 268025 ) <> on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:20AM (#33393046) Homepage Journal

    I don't see how restricting an artists rights to apply whatever license they want to their creation is helping them in the least.

  • by jimrthy ( 893116 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:28AM (#33393154) Homepage Journal

    I think there are a lot of details you're probably missing. I'm going from the perspective of American copyright, so it doesn't directly apply. Still, the international laws tend to be fairly similar.

    I know I should have used a car analogy. I'm sorry.

    Let's say I'm some no-name wanna-be who wrote a song, had my no-name band record a demo, and submitted that demo to a record label (no, this isn't the way it generally works in real life). There are 3 different copyrights involved right there. Even if it's only $30 to register those copyrights to keep the labels from stealing the songs...for many "starving artists," that's a week's worth of food.

    The situation's probably even worse for an author trying to get a story published. He's almost definitely going to submit several different versions of several different stories before one gets accepted. If s/he has to register for copyrights on each version, s/he'll wind up shelling out more in copyright fees than comes back in royalties until/unless s/he manages to write enough hits to support him/herself and the family. Who's going to stick with it that long?

    The situation gets *really* bad when you get into situations like GPL. Do you have to register each "official" release? What happens when someone tries to register a fork? What if you decide to license the next version of your work as BSD?

    Come to think of it, this could have been aimed directly against free software, with Creative Commons just a nice little bit of collateral damage.

  • Re:Speechless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:43AM (#33393334)

    Publishers need bread and butter as well

    So do horse whip makers. Publishers were very important in the physical media world, but just like horse buggy fitters, their role in a changing world diminishes. CDs are almost dead, DVDs will be following on behind as on demand services replace them, even ereaders are gaining traction, in spite of the ridiculous prices of ebooks. The publishers role will soon be boutique and central portals like itunes. The content creators will be able to cut out the behemoth publishers, unless they manage to buy laws to force all creators into due paying guilds.

  • Reality Czech (Score:3, Insightful)

    by abulafia ( 7826 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:46AM (#33393392)

    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.

    Try this:

    "The government cannot take for granted that you just post some code or a media file, slap a proprietary 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."

    In other words, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that intellectual property rights in general are not bought and sold and pass through tons of hands. Witness the entire orphan-work problem. Liberal licenses like CC make it easier to manage these problems, because the entire issue of ownership from the point of the CC license is very straightforward. (It is likely easier backwards as well, because, contrary to the fever dreams of grabby middlemen, there are not, in fact, hordes of eyepatched 14 year olds slapping CC licenses on Elvis mp3.)

    Also, I don't know how this works in the Czech Republic, but in the U.S. the government's cost is court time. In civil suits, the litigating parties pays for their own discovery (subject, of course, to outcomes and sometimes other rules). I don't see how the state's costs go up because a license is CC.

  • by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:50AM (#33393438)
    The problem with that naive view is that removing copyright really does remove the incentive to create and gives every incentive to copy. I don't see how it does not. If everyone can copy and sell, r give for free and sell advertising or profit in another way from distributing a book, software program or a movie, the we have a race in marketing instead of a race in creativity. The creator of the work becomes the most disadvantaged party because he is the only one who has to recoup the cost of creating the work (could be many millions in case of say a major software application or a movie etc) to even break even, while for the copiers any money they make out of distributing that work is free profit.
  • Re:Speechless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @11:53AM (#33393498)

    I'm surprised that it took this long, actually. Charity was only legal in the first place because there was no way for charities to significantly compete with for-profit businesses as long as we were talking about goods and services. Data is any entirely different matter, thanks to the negligible cost of duplication and distribution.

    If you think large businesses are going to tolerate kindness and generosity when it cuts into their bottom lines, you are in for a long series of rude shocks. Abundance is bad for business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:07PM (#33393658)

    Most people get paid for the work they do, not the work that they did. If a construction worker wants some more money, he has to build another house. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that if a performing artist wants more money, he should have to execute another performance.

    Artists should be paid for live music. In the modern technological landscape, digital copies are no longer the product, but rather the advertisement.

    And besides, even if that wasn't true, there is nothing that says an artist has to be an artist. If artists can't make a living being artists, then they can go get a job that pays, just like the rest of us. I see no evidence that this will result in a complete absence of new music, and if it does then the forces of widespread demand will create new opportunities to profit on music.

    So your justification of your outdated business model is crap. Music publishing is an anachronism, and you need to stop taking our freedom away, move into the modern era, and get yourself a real job.

  • Re:Speechless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:07PM (#33393662) Homepage

    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.

    Legally speaking, there is no copyleft. It's simply a legal issue of licensing a copyrighted work under a royalty free license. The problem isn't with the copyright, it's with the collection agencies and their mandates. Since they are set up to collect for all the works under their purview, copyleft agreements confuse them.

    In the US, ASCAP collects for recordings by Spanish, French, and Outer Mongolian artists - those people never actually see any money since they aren't usually registered with ASCAP, but they do collect. According to ASCAP, it is a violation to not pay for the use of the songs, even if the songs have been released under a royalty free license. The only exemption recognized by the law that allows ASCAP to collect is public domain works - so it's possible that they are correct. That is a flaw in the law creating the collection agencies not the copyright law.

    The issue is that the vast majority of the works are used under national Mandatory Licensing regulations. This allows venues to use the works without having to negotiate individual use licenses. Because they are built around the ML, individual licensing agreements aren't considered when calculating royalty payments to the collection agencies. There are 2 approaches to resolving the issue:

    1. Require registration of "collect" works.
    2. Require registration of "do not collect" works.

    Given the vast disparity of volume in "collect" vs "do not collect", the easy solution is to require copyleft works to register. This also has many other advantages for the collection agencies:

    • Simplified paperwork.
    • Shorter search lists - exclude vs include.
    • More royalties collected that will never have to be passed to artists.

    Since I can't read the original proposed law, I will give it the benefit of the doubt and say it seems to be a step in the right direction in that it at least codifies the right of an artist to remove their work from the mandatory collection pool without having to deposit the work in the public domain.

  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @12:16PM (#33393790)

    Translated more simply:

    If you have the money like the MafiAA does, you TOO can buy incredibly asstarded laws to protect your illegal monopoly price-gouging and put those uppity little "artists" back in their rightful slave-labor places in shitty little countries like the Czech... or UK... or USA...

  • Re:Speechless (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 27, 2010 @01:03PM (#33394466)

    They are signatories of the Berne Convention. We have a pretty good idea of the basics of their system, specifically automatic copyright protection.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @01:08PM (#33394510)

    Sure, but what about the recording artists? Should they be left high and dry? Is public performance the only art venue that is deserving of reward?

    Short version: yes. Long version: More or less. Thanks to autotune, the work done by a recording singer is minimal, and a lot of music can be similarly tuned or fixed by computers.

  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @01:16PM (#33394604)
    Let me make this crystal clear. Per work, per infringement, per anything, copyleft is far less of a burden for the government. If the government wants to save money, they should actually FAVOR copyleft. This is like putting a heavy tax on more fuel efficient cars that are safer, more reliable, and cost less to build. As for what the regular system consists of, we have a pretty good idea of it because the are part of the Berne Convention, which means copyright is automatic for them.
  • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @01:37PM (#33394934)
    Up to 14 times as many books were produced, presumably of relatively equal value. The state of authors isn't directly of concern, at least not within the British and American traditions where the point of copyright is to enrich the public availability of works. However, it's quite possible that the publishers were actually less capable of extortion of authors without the copyright system.
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @01:50PM (#33395114)
    Not something that any kid with a computer can do. Right... it's something that any kid with scissors, a sewing machine, and a charge account at JoAnne's Fabrics can do!
  • by Atrox666 ( 957601 ) on Friday August 27, 2010 @02:12PM (#33395410)

    No rights are granted to the Czech republic or those within its borders.
    Sue the fuckers every time someone uses a piece of Linux software or some clip art.
    If you don't want to play nice then you don't get to play at all.

  • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Saturday August 28, 2010 @09:06AM (#33402522)
    "Then why am I finding it so hard to think of a band, local, national, or international who gives away their recordings at cost price to support their tours?"
    Because their record label wants to make money. However, the radio, MTV, myspace, youtube Greatful Dead bootlegs and the like all allow people to listen to music at no cost.

    "How does that work?" Somebody funds it. Your favorite band raises money and records an album. Perhaps some philanthropy happens (that's how we got Carnegie hall). Maybe somebody records in a small studio for the love of music.

    "The burden of proof did lie with us, a few hundred years ago when copyright was proposed. Now that we've accepted it, and our culture has grown and blossomed so much, the burden of proof now rests with anyone who wants to change it"
    The evidence is actually quite poor. especially given that in many cases the system that predates it was basically 'censor all works that are critical of the king/church and let publishers print works that make the king/church look good'. The economics for the internet age have further changed the dynamics of the system, and to assume without evidence that our current copyright system fits it is ridiculous. Nobody questioning the system is why it's so broken in the first place, and that in my lifetime, the public domain has actually shrank.

"Say yur prayers, yuh flea-pickin' varmint!" -- Yosemite Sam