Is The Tide Turning On Bad Copyright Laws?
from the maybe... dept
Canada passed a law in June that sets a new standard of permissiveness. It caps statutory damages if copyright is breached for non-commercial purposes. It expands the definition of “fair dealing” (“fair use” in America) and creates exemptions for educational purposes and for parody. Firms must pass warnings about infringement to the person who posted the material rather than immediately take the content down themselves. This contrasts with practice in America and Europe, where a web company alerted to infringing material must remove it. This encourages knee-jerk responses to complaints.It also talks about how Ireland and Australia are both exploring more open and internet friendly copyright reforms. The article does note that this is not all going smoothly. There are efforts to create taxes on content to preserve old business models, for example. But it does seem like, for the first time in pretty much anyone's lifetime, there actually are real and legitimate efforts to push back on the excesses of copyright law, with the recognition that it's done more harm than good.
Britain too plans to introduce internet-friendly legislation this autumn after a review led by Ian Hargreaves, professor of digital economy at Cardiff University. As with Canada’s law, the recommended new code entails exemptions for non-commercial uses and user-generated content. Also mooted is a “digital copyright exchange” that would establish a marketplace for copyright. A musician could list her song and the licensing terms. A filmmaker wanting to use it would know quickly and simply what to do.
I'm not quite as optimistic as the Economist piece, as almost all of those efforts (Canada excepted, and even that came with bad digital locks/DRM anti-circumvention provisions) are still nascent and are facing tremendous lobbying pressure to go in the other direction. Furthermore, we just got through the SOPA and ACTA fights, and the latest round of TPP negotiations are going on as we speak. Plus, there's plenty of evidence suggesting that even as the RIAA and MPAA have had their budgets slashed, they're gearing up to continue the push for copyright maximalism in all corners. There are inklings of hope and greater and greater recognition of the problem, but I'd say that we're a long, long way from seeing the tide really turn -- and there's still an unfortunately large possibility of things going back to maximalism-as-usual.