Copyright

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, europe



Library Group And Others Issue Declaration For Consumer Friendly Copyright In Europe

from the wouldn't-that-be-something dept

Stuart Hamilton from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) alerted us to the news that his organization, along with "a broad based coalition of European groups, representing consumers, creators, libraries, civil society and technology companies" have put together a declaration in the EU Parliament for Copyright for Creativity -- with the goal being to reform copyright law to bring it back to its original purpose, while updating it for the internet age so that it "fosters digital creativity, innovation, education, and access to cultural works."

Now, wouldn't that be nice?

The argument that they're making is that if the EU implemented such a massive change to copyright law, that actually did focus on such things, it would give Europe a huge competitive advantage. The key goal is to establish important "well-crafted exceptions" to copyright law (such as fair use) that have been shown, time and time again, to encourage greater creativity, innovation and education.

You can see the full declaration, if you'd like. It's been signed by a bunch of groups, including the EFF and the CCIA, who has really been leading the charge recently to get people to understand the importance of exceptions to copyright law in actually driving creativity and economic growth.

Apparently, some Parliament Members already support the declaration, leading to the hope that it will be used "as a basis for an urgent debate on copyright." Again, this would be wonderful if it happens, but given how thoroughly the entertainment industry has dominated pretty much all policy discussions when it comes to copyright, I'm a bit skeptical that this will get very far. Still, it would be great if it really did get a real discussion on copyright issues, that was evidence-based rather than faith-based, going in European policy circles.

As it stands right now, the declaration is a bit vague. It seems like it would help to have some more specifics included as well. And, on top of that, I'm still not convinced that harmonization of copyright systems across multiple countries really is ideal at this point -- even though that's a key element of the declaration. Part of the problem we have with copyright laws today is that there is so little evidence on the actual impact of stronger or weaker copyright laws. It's an area that needs more widespread experimentation with very different models (or no copyright at all) to see what really happens so that there is real evidence. Harmonizing a single system takes away some element of that ability to experiment and to compare different systems to see what really works.

That said, these are minor quibbles for a project whose overall goal does seem like a good thing -- and greatly needed in an era where any sort of changes to copyright law seem to only be driven by the entertainment industry, with a focus on driving the purpose further and further away from its original intentions, and making it more and more about propping up a legacy industry's business model.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2010 @ 12:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Easier to address specific issues first

    You mean like if an author posted a piece of content online anonymously and one person knows who the author is but no one else does? Should that person be allowed to reveal the identity of the author to the public? uhm... that's kinda a privacy issue and it's a tough question (and I doubt the law can reasonably be expected to prevent the identity of the author from being posted if someone really wanted to post it, not without the law substantially liming Internet functionality and computer technology in ways that we wouldn't want it to, and even then I doubt that will really work), but even if the answer is no it doesn't negate the fact that the author has no right to control who does what with his/her work once the author posts it on the net.

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