Dutch Government: Make European Copyright Exceptions More Flexible

from the didn't-see-that-coming dept

Well, here’s a turn-up for the books. At a time when the European Commission is insisting that the copyright ratchet should be tightened up a few notches by bringing in ACTA, with its perilously vague terms that potentially criminalize even low-level acts of online sharing, here’s the Dutch government planning to go in the opposite direction:

The Dutch government wants to change copyright law so new media users can continue to do “creative remixes” of protected content. [It] will no longer wait for the European Commission to find a compromise.

The Dutch government made that clear at a conference it had organized, entitled “Towards Flexible Copyright,” where one of the speakers was Bernt Hugenholtz of the Dutch state committee on copyright law. On the subject of YouTube, he said:

“Many of the videos we find there are creative remixes of material protected under copyright. They’re mostly for laughs or political commentary, or they’re simply absurd. If we applied the law today strictly, we would not be allowed to do these things.”

Also speaking at the conference, Netherland’s Deputy Justice Minister Fred Teeven said he was exploring “a more flexible system of copyright exceptions that would also work in a European context.” One solution would be to replace the limited set of European exceptions to copyright, which are laid down by law and allow no flexibility, with a system more akin to US fair use, which gives courts a certain leeway to determine what exactly is permissible.

Of course, that’s an eminently sensible thing to do, not least because it wouldn’t require a radical overhaul of European copyright, just some tinkering at the edges. Despite that, the idea is likely to meet stiff resistance — and not just from the industry dinosaurs that reflexively resist any change that might reverse the copyright ratchet by even a few degrees.

At a time when the European Commission is hell-bent on getting ACTA ratified by the European Parliament, it won’t take kindly to national governments going their own way on exceptions. That’s particularly the case since the Commission is also drafting a new directive specifically designed to harmonize EU copyright law.

The Dutch government will be well aware of all those countervailing pressures, which makes this unexpected move all the more bold. Let’s hope it inspires other EU countries to lend their weight to this much-needed initiative to make European copyright laws fit for the digital age.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Dutch Government: Make European Copyright Exceptions More Flexible”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
50 Comments
Bill W (profile) says:

Hmmm, you know the street goes both ways, right?

For some reason this article got me thinking … always a dangerous proposition …

If we loosen “fair use” rules, which I take is what this proposal is addressing, Then Sony might be able to incorporate some BMI content (or whomever … just an example) into their offerings and increase their audience. Naturally that would be reciprocal.

Has anyone explained to the Major Labels that “OOH! We can grab some of YOUR best shit and use it to improve our crappy shit! COOL!” It’s called Fair Use!

Depending on who’s shit is great or crappy you might get some complaints but, in the end, maybe we’ll get better shit?

These days it’s like a KIng of the Mountain game where everybody is trying to break the legs of all the competitors rather than actually trying to make it to the top of the mountain!!!!

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

The Dutch position actually makes perfect sense given that, as the minister says, most of the works are social or political commentary or absurdities and that none can be mistaken for or replace the “real” thing.

This is similar to a pre IP purist article I found in the October 1998 edition of Biblio Magazine in an article about Commomplace Books where the author makes the point that the notes, quotes and sampling done in these old books led to remixing that accelerated the Renaissance and compared it to Web hypertext where he says that “I our postmodern sense of hypertextuality, hypertext technology offers a vast spectrum of literary wisdom for the creation of unique works.” This is quite the opposite of IP minimalist stances which, somehow, seem to claim the opposite.

In this sense the Dutch government is on the right side of culture and freedom whereas ACTA is anything but.

Anonymous Coward says:

“”Many of the videos we find there are creative remixes of material protected under copyright. They’re mostly for laughs or political commentary, or they’re simply absurd. If we applied the law today strictly, we would not be allowed to do these things.””

If you want to make laughs… make your own NEW videos and songs. Political commentary? Apply the news theory, quote as needed, attribute, and don’t use video / audio you don’t have the rights to.

If you cannot make your political statements without using the works of others, perhaps you have nothing important to say.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re:

Legalizing certain forms of content will not inhibit the sale of copyrighted content, nor make it illegal. It could be argued that purchasers will seek alternatives to expensive licensed material, but that is a valid market force and you would need significant evidence to demonstrate that it should be interfered with.

Further there is no reason for exemptions to copyright to increase the number of law suits filed for use of non-licensed material. Any public domain material provides no basis for legal action.

“It’s idiotic to just ‘do it some other way’.”

It is incredibly foolish to believe there is only one valid solution to any problem. Exploring other options is perfectly valid and well within the rights of the Dutch government. It might cause some friction on the issue, but, in case you hadn’t noticed, there is plenty of that already.

Bill W (profile) says:

Re:

Not irrelevant. Have you never engaged in a conversation? Where, perhaps, you might repeat back the other person’s words? And then you amplify or comment on what they said and inject your own perspective and thoughts. Of course you have.

But your own “perspective and thoughts” are framed by that other side of the conversation and without that frame they are adrift. You are not “stealing” those thoughts but are merely using them to frame your own creation; putting the conversation in context. Otherwise your contribution loses a lot of value, it’s just words in the sand. In fact, you are elevating those “other thoughts” to a higher level by highlighting their importance to you, that you recognize them as important.

Creativity builds on those that came before.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

If you cannot make your political statements without using the works of others, perhaps you have nothing important to say.

Oh look, someone who doesn’t understand how art and culture work. Let me guess, piracy would be reduced if the punishments were harsher?

“I don’t understand this modern world with their uppity kids, get off my lawn!”

Dutch Guy says:

Hmmm, you know the street goes both ways, right?

I think “Fair Use” would be explained a bit more in detail than that interpretation.

Obviously there would be some exemption to using material freely, where fair use is defined as remixing and sharing with friends on youtube, not stealing ideas and incorporating them in your own material to sell with millions of dollars in profit.

Where they draw the line will be up to courts:
“which gives courts a certain leeway to determine what exactly is permissible.”

Yes, it is possible you get dragged to court, but not over something like posting a video of yourself covering a copyrighted song in your bedroom.

Torg (profile) says:

Re:

I just finished watching a series of gag-subbed videos that I found myself more emotionally invested in than any new movie I’ve seen in the last three years except War Horse.
Dragonball Z Abridged is a hell of a lot funnier than most of the shit being made today.
I’ve got more remixes on my iPod than I do copyrighted songs.
If you think the only things wort protecting are purely original work then you likely haven’t looked much into the alternative.

Cowardly Anonymous says:

Re:

In other words, you would marginalize the message because the messenger failed to be original. Which is exactly what you were called out on, and not a necessary element of validity.

Of course, it is more than just that. In case hadn’t noticed, they are talking about parody and political commentary. Both of these things are comments on the original expression and the context is vital to the new expression.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Ah, yes, the usual excuse of “if a country doesn’t share our aggression and severity in enforcing IP laws, they have no culture worth speaking of and/or will never amount to anything as far as culture is concerned”.

Considering that your message is effectively “Your country is SO backwater and uncultured! Have some laws/copyright extensions/ACTA!” it’s amazing you can get other countries to even agree with you.

silverscarcat says:

Re:

That’s funny, coming from you…

Does this look familiar to you?

“If you want to make laughs… make your own NEW videos and songs. Political commentary? Apply the news theory, quote as needed, attribute, and don’t use video / audio you don’t have the rights to.

If you cannot make your political statements without using the works of others, perhaps you have nothing important to say.”

Hmm, sure is not black and white there, nope.

Glad to see that you’re such an open-minded fellow.

Anonymous Cowherd (profile) says:

Dear Glynn, you’ve written some excellent posts, but I must point out something in this one.
You quote Mr. Fred Teeven, the same man who proposed a ban on downloading last December after having a great meeting with someone called Chris Dodd.
As a Dutchman, I trust him about as far as I can throw him.
The copyright reform your post speaks of only proposes increased exceptions, not the drastic restructuring of copyright terms and stimulation of new models that we really need.

TL;DR: It’s all words, and insufficient ones from unreliable politicians at that.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...