EU Copyright Head Looking To Roll Back UsedSoft Decision, Makes Weak Noises About 'Infinite Contracts'

from the industries-still-writing-the-rules dept

The European Union has its own revolving door, one that allows lobbyists to enter government agencies in order to directly regulate the same industries they so recently stumped for. Maria Martin-Prat went from directing “global legal policy” for IFPI (the international RIAA) to being the EU Commission’s point person for copyright issues.

In the past, Martin-Prat has gone on record as being against any sort of private copying exception to copyright law, stating that:

“private copying has no reason to exist and should be limited further than it is.”

The private copying exception varies from country to country, but in Martin-Prat’s mind, the best case scenario is likely “not at all… anywhere.” So, why is Martin-Prat, an admitted hardliner on copyright issues, suddenly discussing the unfairness of certain copyright contracts?

Speaking at a Westminster Forum seminar, Maria Martin-Prat, EC Head of the Copyright Unit for the Internal Market Directorate General (DG MARKT), said the Commission should look at whether contracts were fair.

She told us that the infinite assignment of rights that authors must agree to in most EU countries to get their work published was what she had in mind.

In the digital era, freelance authors and photographers in many members states have been asked to assign their rights to an intermediary in “infinite” deals.

Forever contracts are, indeed, the sort of unfair deal that the EU Commission should take a longer look at. Here in the US, the reversion of copyright back to the creators (for pre-1976 recordings) has prompted record labels to argue that everything created was a “work for hire,” and thus belongs to the label in perpetuity. (This argument also took the form of a midnight run to Congress to get copyright law amended in the recording industry’s favor.) An infinite contract obviously closes that potential loophole for artists to reclaim their work after a reasonable amount of time.

Seems like a good start, but Martin-Prat continues, dispelling any notion that serious copyright reform will occur under her guidance.

The distribution of “the share of the value in the internet” was worth examining said Martin-Prat – particularly “who gets the profits?”

Ah, the old “the Internet owes everyone a living” argument, wherein (probably) Google is blamed for every low number on the copyright industries’ balance sheets and asked to kick in to make up for the shortfall. Note that Martin-Prat asks “who gets the profits,” rather than asking how to divide the profits, which indicates she already has an answer in mind. Why address problems in any logical fashion when you can just use the weight of the EU Commission to make internet services bend to the will of misguided court decisions and nearly two decades’ of useless complaining from the recording industry?

Then Martin-Prat steps even further away from copyright moderation and takes a swing at the few remaining rights purchasers of creative works have, citing specifically the UsedSoft decision, which agreed that sold software was a “license” rather than a sale, but despite this distinction, could still be resold.

“In both cases the Court was pushing the boundaries of the copyright rules to help the function of the internal market,” she said. “UsedSoft was desperately trying to turn software licensed by a user into a good – so they could enjoy free movement of goods,” she observed. “The Court cut a few corners” in its interpretation, she thought. However, “if we don’t do something at some point the CJEU will keep pushing.”

So, it looks as though Martin-Prat will be pushing back on this decision in order to remove something that actually helps sell new software — the possibility of resale. Whether the copyright industries like it or not, people consider this factor when purchasing new items and if the possibility exists to make something back, it actually encourages a few more sales. There’s nothing inherently “unfair” about not being able to profit from every sale, but the industries still think it’s just another way they’re being screwed — hence the push to call everything a “license,” even if it’s a physical good.

Martin-Prat offers to take on an inherently unfair contract (the infinite copyright contract) but only because she has a desire to protect other unfair contracts (you can’t resell what your purchase). The first will likely end up riddled with loopholes (for all intents and purposes, most recording contracts may as well be “infinite,” considering how hard it is for artists to reclaim their copyrights) and the latter will just help the industries further pare down the few copyright law exceptions that currently exist.

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Companies: usedsoft

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Comments on “EU Copyright Head Looking To Roll Back UsedSoft Decision, Makes Weak Noises About 'Infinite Contracts'”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

'Now that the issue is open to change, let's 'fix' a few things shall we?'

Looks and sounds to me like a simple bait and switch, dangle the possibility of getting rid of ‘eternal’ copyrights to get more people on board, and then, assuming enough of them are stupid enough to fall for it and open the law up for ‘re-examination’, start ratcheting things up as much as possible, spending maybe 5-10 minutes on ‘fixing’ the aforementioned ‘eternal’ copyright problem before moving on to the real goals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 'Now that the issue is open to change, let's 'fix' a few things shall we?'

Unfortunately that seems like a possibility. After ACTA fell, the arguments for more copyright has been changed to better protection and the better protection is being sold as a combination of “neutral changes” to the situation. Copyright is a hot topic and it has been almost impossible to force the industry demands of continuously more copyright measures through the european parliament the last 5 years, after the total insanity of IPRED.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The same argument is made for eternal copyright. Not just “lifetime of author” + 50 to 100 years, but real eternal copyright. Moving things into public domain can be seen as removing artists rights to own their work.

Now, granted, copyrights are hereditary and thus makes vassallic societys serfdom an easy comparison, but the distinction is not on whether or not someone has “rights” in this context. It is about what rights people have and how you weigh them.

Digger says:

Martin-Pratt - eat shit and die

You worthless git, get out of that office before you damage the entire EU economy – oh wait – it’s too late, it’s already been damaged heavily by special interest groups that haven’t figured out that they are meaningless and no longer of any value to society.

Patents are given to *INVENTORS* (wasn’t supposed to be corporations, only people) in exchange for a protected period of time before becoming public domain.

Copyrights are given to *CONTENT CREATORS* (again, wasn’t supposed to be corporations, only the people) in exchange for a protected period of time where noone could claim to be the creator of said content.

Neither was about *MONEY* – EVER!!!

Neither were about suing everyone into oblivion.

If I made use of bits of copyrighted material, but said “using so and so’s content” – so they knew who created it – it was fair use.

If I had a record, and dubbed it to tape, it was fair use.

If I bought a CD and made a tape for my car, it was fair use.

If I buy a DVD or Blu-ray and copy it for use on another device that I own – that is fair use.

If I make a new media for the kids to use so they don’t destroy my original, that is fair use.

You f’ing dolt, get out of that office for which you are wholly unsuited. Your head is so far up the recording industry’s ass that they pump oxygen to you by way of flatulence and the oxygen deprivation is showing in your decisions and ideas.

TestPilotDummy says:

Some decisions have Dire consequences

If wise heads prevail, the world with move forward with the flow of the universe while productivity and creativity will propagate all the black holes, however if fascist heads prevail, the entire corporate industry will unravel as anarchy and chaos will become universal copyright law.

The test will come, when people have to decide, if your product’s value is worth something. That’s the bottom line. At some point it’s not worth messing with your products anymore and you dry up.

When two opposing forces meet, the stronger one prevails EVERY TIME.

Anonymous Coward says:

Infinite copyright contracts are vital...

Ok all you nay-sayers, explain this:

How does it “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” to allow a copyright to revert to the original artist/creator?

Honestly, way too much weight is given to the importance of people who do nothing more than “make everything.”

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