European Commission Consultation On Copyright Reveals Chasm Between Views Of Public And Publishers

from the now-they-can't-deny-it,-but-will-they-act-on-it? dept

In January of this year, we urged Techdirt readers to express their views on copyright by participating in the European Commission's consultation on the subject. It seems that many of you did, judging by the final numbers, which have just been published by the Commission (pdf):
The public consultation generated broad interest with more than 9,500 replies to the consultation document and a total of more than 11,000 messages, including questions and comments, sent to the Commission's dedicated email address. A number of initiatives were also launched by organized stakeholders that nurtured the debate around the public consultation and drew attention to it.
Some 5600 response came from the public, 2400 from authors/performers, and a thousand or so from companies. The European Commission has published an analysis of the comments on a question-by-question basis. This makes it slightly hard to get an overall sense of what the various sectors are saying, but fortunately Leonhard Dobusch has tackled that problem in an illuminating post on the Governance Across Borders blog:
I tried to have a look at the bigger picture here: what do we learn about the state of copyright at large? And what overall direction should copyright reform take?
Here's how he addressed those questions:
What I have done is to check for each of the 24 issue sections whether one of the respective stakeholder groups sees a need for copyright reform or is content with the current copyright system (for details check out a public Google spreadsheet with original quotes). The results are not entirely surprising and very clear: we have a strong divide among copyright stakeholders with end users and institutional users (e.g. libraries, archives, universities) strongly in favor of copyright reform and authors, collective management organizations, publishers and producers in favor of the current copyright system.
He then turned that information into two striking graphics:


For those that can't view those images, they show the public massively in favor of reforming just about every aspect of copyright, and publishers massively against doing so. As Dobusch writes:

the two charts above indicate that current EU copyright is very unbalanced. When one side is completely satisfied with the status quo and the other is very unhappy then this is not a balanced situation. Given that a good compromise should leave everybody equally unhappy, the results of the consultation also show the direction for copyright reform efforts of the new EU Commission: re-balancing copyright requires at least some reform as demanded by end users and institutional users, most importantly a more harmonized and flexible system of exceptions and limitations.
This is what Techdirt and many others have been urging for years. What's important here is that with this significant response to the consultation, it is now impossible for the European Commission to ignore the chasm between the views of the public, hugely unhappy about the current imbalance of copyright, and those of the publishers, desperately trying to keep things as unfair and as profitable as they are currently. Whether the Commission does anything about it is quite another matter.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Whatever (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 1:14am

    they show the public massively in favor of reforming just about every aspect of copyright,

    Not correct. It shows that the self-selecting part of the public who chose to participate massively in favor of...

    The problem with any process like this is that those who are okay with things they way they are generally don't get involved. So it's hard to draw conclusions without sampling a group of non self-selecting citizens.

    The numbers may or may not reflect the public's opinion as a whole, but we will likely never know.

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Beech, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 1:16am

    Oh yeah?

    " it is now impossible for the European Commission to ignore the chasm between the views of the public"

    I bet there's an army of industry lobbyists with mountains of money that beg to differ.

     

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

  3.  
    identicon
    Beech, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 1:24am

    Re:

    Or...the members of public who care about copyright law are super in favor of reform, and those who don't care didn't bother to respond. Why would we count people who don't care? If you run up to a random person on the street and shout "DO YOU THINK COPYRIGHT NEEDS REFORM" they'd probably think you were pretty strange and walk away. If you pressed them for an answer they'd probably just make something up because they are uninformed of the issues. It's like making a person choose between to candidates that they've never heard of before.

    Here's a test. Find someone you know and ask if they know the current duration of a copyright. When they almost invariably don't tell them what it is, (lifetime of author + 70 years in 'Murica) and THEN ask them if that sounds pretty reasonable or not. So far I haven't found one person who thinks that makes any kind of sense. Obviously I am not a scientist and I haven't polled a truly random and statistically significant portion of the population, but I bet most people would think that it's total insanity.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 1:24am

    Re:

    Until you start telling people that copyright enforcers are demanding more money for mobile phones, blank storage devices and cars because they might be used for piracy. Also, cassette tapes killed the industry several decades ago.

    Who do you think the public is going to believe, whether they choose to involve themselves or not? There isn't a choice like you believe - in fact, because actual pirates will have made themselves less traceable, the average person who doesn't hide his activities is more likely to get hit by the RIAA, who claim they are legally empowered to financially ruin anyone they please because copyright law.

     

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  5.  
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    MadAsASnake (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 1:58am

    Re: Re:

    A better test would be to demand that someone who died 70 years ago explains how it benefits him. I'm prepared to accept it if he/she can come up with a really good reason.

     

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  6.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:14am

    Re:

    Yet again, you can't address the issues raised, you just ignore and attack what you don't like.

    "The numbers may or may not reflect the public's opinion as a whole, but we will likely never know."

    ...but you'll assume they won't and base your entire premise on that so you don't have to discuss anything. Pathetic as always.

     

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  7.  
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    Whatever (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:15am

    Re: Re:

    If you ask leading questions, you will get the answer you want. Your question and statement are designed to create concern where possibly none exists.

    A better question would be "do you are about how long copyright on a song or movie lasts?" That would be a good indication to find out if the issue even matters.

     

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  8.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "That would be a good indication to find out if the issue even matters."

    or, that they haven't considered the issue and don't know what the consequences of copyright length actually are. People don't care about a lot of things until the consequences hit them. That doesn't mean the subject itself doesn't matter.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Do you care about how long copyright on a song or movie lasts?"

    "No because I will ignore copyright/pirate it anyway."

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:38am

    while de Gucht is around, doing as much as he possibly can to increase copyright and the terms, they wont be any changes other than ones to hurt customers! with him gone, there is maybe a chance. the ridiculous part is that the publishers etc are as keen to keep copyright as it is or increase it in their favour but rely totally on the public to keep them earning. why would anyone be so stupid as to keep propping up an industry when it hurts those doing the propping up?

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Then do you consider the possibility of the same for publishers?

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:52am

    Re:

    The problem with any process like this is that those who are okay with things they way they are generally don't get involved.

    Which totally explains why the publishers overwhelmingly supported no change.

     

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  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    A better question would be "do you are about how long copyright on a song or movie lasts?" That would be a good indication to find out if the issue even matters.

    Sure, ask them that question, then if they say 'no', point out how many things they likely do on a daily basis are technically illegal, thanks to the insanity of current copyright law.

    Point out how the simple act of finding a song/picture/movie clip they like, and sending a copy of it to a friend to listen/view/watch, something that most people wouldn't even bat an eye at, is considered a crime worthy of hefty fees if the rights owner wants to try it in court.

    Point out the thousand, tens of thousand or higher fines people have been threatened with for downloading and/or sharing a handful of songs, or even simply due to being accused of such.

    Direct their attention to the fact that companies 'borrow' and build off of the public domain left and right, and then turn around and threaten and shut down the efforts of anyone who dares do the same with what they've created.

    Point out how numerous technologies, and every technology build on top of them, would simply not exist if copyright maximalists had their way throughout history.

    Point out how nothing created in a person's lifetime will enter the public domain for others to build upon, if it ever does, given the repeated retroactive expansions to copyright duration.

    The general public may not care either way about copyright, but that's pretty much solely because they know nothing about it. Start educating them on how utterly broken and insane it is, and unless they're among those who are currently benefiting from the current system, odds are most of them are not going to be in favor of the law as it currently stands.

     

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  14.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 3:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That one's easy enough to answer, brains are freakin' expensive to buy at the supermarket, and if zombie artists aren't getting any money from their creations 30, 40, or 50 years after their death, then that means they'll have to make due with 'wild range' brains, and nobody wants that.

    So please, think of the starving zombie artists and their potential snacks, and support life+(obscene amount of years) copyright duration.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 3:44am

    Smiler

    Hey, i was right =) If informed Citizens can give opinion on subject that involves them, their family and friends, they can really give reasonable answers. Nice!

     

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

  16.  
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    Kevin Picott (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 4:01am

    Yes it is possible to ignore

    One can only imagine the lobbyists dressed in white pointing to these results and asking of the commission... "Whom do you serve?"

     

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  17.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 4:30am

    Re: Yes it is possible to ignore

    More likely "Remember who pays for you to attain the position and power you so enjoy, and who offers you luxurious 'retirement' packages if act properly while in office."

     

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  18.  
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    beech, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 5:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    FRom a political standpoint, irrelevant. If I am a politician, I need to come up with stances on almost everything. If I need a position on copyright, and my polling indicates my constituents range from "for reform" and "don't care" with few to none in favour of "no change" the optional stance would be for reform, since the apathetic won't care, and the majority of those who do care will be happy.

    Wait, forgot to factor in bribes. ... status quo forever!

     

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  19.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 5:57am

    The corporate paymasters are generally satisfied so it's all well and dandy.

    I suspect this same chasm would be found virtually anywhere if anybody cares to check. It's another stance of politics being completely apart from the ones they should be benefiting.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 7:10am

    There should be a fourth bar added to graphic two: how much money has been funneled into office by the respective groups.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 7:37am

    de Gucht has made the accusation that there were multiple emails from one address. that apparently is true but the address was to make it easier for people to email in. what was a travesty was that the system got 'unfortunately' bogged down, being unable to handle the number of incoming mails. it is exactly what happened over ACTA and proves that nothing was done to prevent this from happening again. then there was the bit about the 'tech people' i believe, being able to block emails as well, so as not to 'disturb the EU MPs'. that is disgraceful! the MPs are there to do a job, part of which is taking on board what the people are unhappy about. they are most certainly not there to do whatever the various industries want and under no circumstance should 'a tech person' decide whether the mails coming in should be read or blocked!! then add in that de Gucht is obviously working for the industries involved and didn't want any members of the public doing anything contrary to what he wanted. it will be a good move when this arse hole is out of the job!

     

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  22.  
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    Whatever (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure, ask them that question, then if they say 'no', point out how many things they likely do on a daily basis are technically illegal, thanks to the insanity of current copyright law.

    Then ask how many of them have paid a fine, been taken to court, or even been concerned... answer will be about zero.

    Point out how nothing created in a person's lifetime will enter the public domain for others to build upon, if it ever does, given the repeated retroactive expansions to copyright duration.

    I am still stuck on trying to figure out how it matters if it's 50 years, 60 years, or 2000 years? At what point do you think that the number would really make a difference? 5 years? 2 years? A few weeks?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Ask how many of them have been murdered. Answer will be about zero. Why should anyone care about murder?

    The murder hyperbole works both ways.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I would personally find 10 years the minimum since weak souls might find some reason to get away with a successful author to monetize the work legally. 10 years is beyond the business horizon for most companies and even if it isn't having a 20 year plan include an assasination might seem rather questionable even then.

    Anything beyond 30 years seems excessive. 30 years is a generation and it is more than enough to avoid speculation in it. What I think most have an issue with, though, is not the specific number, but that it is consistently changing in an increasing manner. The change of copyright lenghts will cause damage to the investments companies wanting to use the recently PDed works have made and it is generally a negative disruption of the market, since few 100 year old works are that popular today as to cause demand for licensing...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    actually paid and/or taken to court? very few. threatened with it? quite a few. Know someone who got got one of those letters? most.

    And guess what, the result is not fear, it is not compliance, it is defiance. The general mindset is, that they deserve all the piracy for the audacity to threaten or sue over a fucking *movie*. A movie that will be eventually available for free in TV.

    Nobody I know thinks it is even remotely reasonable to threaten with hundreds or thousands of euro over a movie or a few songs.

    Nobody *cares* what the law is on this matter anymore, because the law has absolutely no because it is absolutely incompatible with the reality people live in. Criminalizing behavior that is just one mouseclick away, be it sharing media, or remixing media is just incomprehensible to most people. And therefore the law gets ignored.

    Copyright as it is is a relic of days long past. It is an artificial restriction on normal behavior and people refuse to follow it. That is your problem and neither educating people about the law or punishing them changes that.

    The duration of copyright does not matter anymore for this reason, but if you want to argue what people tend to think is reasonable it will be around 5, maybe 10 years maximum.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:07am

    So what these charts show is that the end users are all in favor of increasing copyrights! Virtually every question shows that they think some change is needed and as we all know, the only change allowed in copyright law is to increase it.

    Sure, tell me I'm wrong and then watch the commission put exactly that spin on it.

     

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

  27.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you ask leading questions, you will get the answer you want. Your question and statement are designed to create concern where possibly none exists.

    Stating a fact and asking someone what they think of that fact is a leading question?

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 10:49am

    Re:

    "then there was the bit about the 'tech people' i believe, being able to block emails as well, so as not to 'disturb the EU MPs'"

    I happen to know that it is currently illegal to filter email to EU MPs -- subject lines can be tagged, but filtering is not allowed.

    They are also required to respond to all messages in a certain timeframe -- which is probably where the grumpiness comes from.

    This makes spam an interesting situation for them; same with phishing attacks and malware.

    The good news for them is that they don't personally have to be the responders, so they can hire someone to do that work.

     

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

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 1:08pm

    As always, the viewpoint of the public is total access to all published works. The attitude of the publishers is restricted access for profit. What's new there? It's been going on since printing began. That's why the original "Statute of Ann" was written.

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Re:

    Not only that. The numbers actually show that more than 37% of those who responded are part of the entertainment industry despite the fact that far fewer than 37% of the population works in that industry. If anything the numbers show that those who are okay with the way things are are more involved than those who aren't okay with it.

     

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  31.  
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    nasch (profile), Jul 31st, 2014 @ 2:39pm

    Re:

    As always, the viewpoint of the public is total access to all published works.

    I think you're mistaken.

     

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

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2014 @ 5:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If Whatever is uncomfortable with the results gleaned.

     

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

  33.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "A movie that will be eventually available for free in TV."

    Even that's not the point. "Free" is a driver for many, but it's not the main driver in most cases. A lot of the content being pirated is either pre-release, not available in the country yet or has been windowed out of peoples' reach (e.g. a cinema release where a family may have to pay $100+ to see it). If the content was available for a reasonable price at the time, many would pay rather than pirate. But, they have to insist on those windows and resrtictions...

    "Nobody I know thinks it is even remotely reasonable to threaten with hundreds or thousands of euro over a movie or a few songs."

    That's actually one of the main points, I think. If they sued over the retail cost of the content downloaded, or maybe 2-3 times that amount as a punitive fine, people would probably pay up. They probably wouldn't stop "pirating" as most people see that as sharing and were doing it long before the internet. But the cartels would get their money.

    But, they got greedy. They tried to make examples of people and started asking for thousands or even millions *per song* or *per download*. That's not only clearly more than most people could ever pay, but the lack of proportion to the crime is absolutely offensive. So, instead of people becoming compliant or even handing over money they became, as you say , defiant.

     

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  34.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 1st, 2014 @ 12:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I am still stuck on trying to figure out how it matters if it's 50 years, 60 years, or 2000 years?"

    Well, you do find basic facts mystifying in most of these discussions.

    The point is that copyright is meant to be a *limited* monopoly to allow artists to profit from their work and thus drive the creation of new work. 50 years fits this definition, though I'd argue it's too much (I'd prefer to see a system where it's 20-25 years with the option to renew but without the option to sell the copyright to a corporation or another non-physical legal entity).

    But, anything over the standard lifetime of a person becomes too long. Why? Because then it's not effectively "limited". If nothing from the year a person is born enters the public domain by the time they die following a natural lifespan, then copyright on that content is effectively infinite to that person. No, copyright should not be infinite, and people here will be happy to discuss the many, obvious reasons why that is. Assuming you've found a taste for honest discussion, that is, which I doubt.

     

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


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