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.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    icon
    Chris Brand (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    Special 301 list here they come...

    ...just like Israel in 2007.

    "Don't even think about copying *that* part of our copyright law"

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    This is a situation where the Dutch could rapidly find themselves with little or no new copyright material being legally sold in the country, and with lawsuits filed for any use of material not available in the country (not licensed at all).

    It's idiotic to just 'do it some other way'.

     

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    •  
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      Jay (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      The Dutch have had a lot of advancements due to no new copyright laws. Was this not the same country that Spotify began and made the labels more money than iTunes?

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Cowardly Anonymous, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:50pm

      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.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 5:20pm

      Re:

      Actually, in the long run it's rather smart to try it "some other way". Because if the copyright industry continues to be unyielding in their push for continually stronger copyright, more and more people are going to push back for the total abolishment of copyright altogether.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 11:26pm

      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.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      abc gum, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 4:51am

      Re:

      "This is a situation where the Dutch could rapidly find themselves with little or no new copyright material being legally sold in the country, and with lawsuits filed for any use of material not available in the country (not licensed at all)."

      We will just have to invade if they continue with their insane ideas.

       

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    Bill W (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:33pm

    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!!!!

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 5:22pm

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

      Sony could produce the best shit on the planet, I'm still not buying anything of theirs.

       

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      identicon
      Dutch Guy, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

      Re: 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.

       

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    TtfnJohn (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:36pm

    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.

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:36pm

    ""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.

     

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    •  
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      TtfnJohn (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:39pm

      Re:

      That you make such a blanket statement without actually seeing or listening to any of this but just from a knee jerk reaction then perhaps YOU have nothing important to say.

      Or perhaps you've never read Jonathon Swift or Evelyn Waugh who did some remixing of their own in their books. So I guess they had nothing to say either.

       

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    •  
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      John Fenderson (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:41pm

      Re:

      Maybe, maybe not. But that's irrelevant to the point.

       

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      •  
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        Bill W (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

        Re: 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.

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 9:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You can still use their words, quoted... what's the problem?

           

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        •  
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          John Fenderson (profile), Feb 16th, 2012 @ 9:09am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I think you misunderstand me. I agree with you. What's irrelevant to the question at hand is whether or not it's possible to express opinion without using the works of others. Even if you can, use of those works remains a valid use. It's called culture.

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 5:08pm

      Re:

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


      That depends, can you report the news without using the words of others?

       

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    •  
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      surfer (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 5:10pm

      Re:

      so you marginalize the message because of the messenger?

      0/10

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 9:05pm

        Re: Re:

        No, I would marginalize the message because the message isn't new. If your entire political discourse requires you to violate the rights of others to make it, perhaps you need to rethink your ideas and express them in a more complete form of your own.

         

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        •  
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          silverscarcat (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 9:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Here's a little something for you...

          Copyright does not exist because the public (meaning most everyone but you and your masters) refuses to accept it anymore.

          Besides, political speech isn't under copyright protection, it doesn't exactly promote science and the progress of society, does it?

           

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        •  
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          silverscarcat (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 9:23pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Here's a little something for you...

          Copyright does not exist because the public (meaning most everyone but you and your masters) refuses to accept it anymore.

          Besides, political speech isn't under copyright protection, it doesn't exactly promote science and the progress of society, does it?

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Cowardly Anonymous, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 9:28pm

          Re: Re: 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.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 10:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well that is exactly what copyright does, it violates the rights of everybody else just for that one person that is why it is called a monopoly.

          If you are basing your stupid comment on the assumption that violating others rights is bad surely, surely you can see how bad it is to have copyrights.

           

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        •  
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          Torg (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 4:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just because something uses old stuff doesn't mean it has the same message. I highly doubt that all those "Hitler gets angry" videos convey anything remotely similar to the original. This in particular is relevant.

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 5:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          >No, I would marginalize the message because the message isn't new.

          >If your entire political discourse requires you to violate the rights of others to make it

          You realise that this can be applied to most politicians, right?

           

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 5:45pm

      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!"

       

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      •  
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        abc gum, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 5:02am

        Re: Re:

        "piracy would be reduced if the punishments were harsher"

        By the time Andy got back from Mt. Pilot, Barney had the whole town locked up. "I got them dead to rights" proclaimed Barney.

         

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      silverscarcat (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 5:59pm

      Re:

      You really are clueless, aren't you, AC?

      No wonder you chose that handle.

      That's all you are...

      A coward who hides behind a veil of anonymity to make people think that you're somehow special.

       

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    •  
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      Kaden (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 6:08pm

      Re:

      We look forward to Hollywood leading the way to this new era of completely original creativity. They'll be getting right on that as soon as they're finished promoting 'Battleship: The Movie' and can free up some manpower, I presume?

       

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      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 9:05pm

        Re: Re:

        ARGH! People like you are so ignorant. Black and white, is that all you see?

         

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 10:28pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Every download must be a lost sale."
          "The VCR is the Boston Strangler."
          "Safe harbours in the DMCA were a mistake."

          We could go on. The fact is - being black and white didn't start with us; it started with the RIAA/MPAA. Why are their black-and-white arguments valid to you, but not ours?

           

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        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 10:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't know about him but me I see only "monopoly", "no-monopoly".

           

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        •  
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          The eejit (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 4:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          No, I see lots of blood red. No blakc, no white.

          This is what happens when your ideas are so vapid, unoriginal and empty of any worth, financial, moral or otherwise, that my eyes rupture each time I see something this stupid, my ears bleed each time I hear Vapid Pop Idol #5296704, and my brain melts at CallofGearsBattlefieldBadCompany 76.

           

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          Torg (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 4:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm curious to know where the shades of gray are in "everything must be completely original or it's worthless".

           

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        •  
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          silverscarcat (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 5:42am

          Re: Re: 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.

           

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        •  
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          Kaden (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 5:48am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I love it when you flinch.

           

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    •  
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      Torg (profile), Feb 13th, 2012 @ 6:38pm

      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.

       

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    •  
      identicon
      Paul, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 1:28am

      Re:

      Everything you say, think or due is a remix of what you learned and you are doing that since the day you where born.
      Please take care of your nine to five push a button job and spare us of your world view remix

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 6:33pm

    I bet the writers of SOPA and PIPA are proud of themselves, they spectacularly threw away their old advantage in getting stuff done by pushing too far and making copyright a mainstream issue.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2012 @ 10:39pm

      Re:

      I love copyright maximalists they do more to harm copyrights than any one on earth and they actually are doing a great job to inform people of what a granted monopoly is, and it is not something benign.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2012 @ 1:46am

    are you trying to tell me that a government is actually, perhaps, going to bring some sense into the copyright debate? then, perhaps, bring it into law? then try to extend their thinking to other countries? nah! dont believe it! they'll be wiped out by 'terrorists' first!

     

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    Anonymous Cowherd (profile), Feb 14th, 2012 @ 7:00am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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