Contributing to a fairer European Copyright law

I have today submitted evidence to the EU’s Copyright Consultation. I used  http://copywrongs.eu/ to help me, they filter the questions for you, and I wrote about exceptions (we, especially in the UK, need more) , clarity and derived works (again arguing for more), the balance of rights between copyright holders and citizens (more rights for citizens) and the appropriateness of old laws and concepts to the digital age (they aren’t).

the Commission's Offices

This is what I said,

Should any new limitations and exceptions be added to or removed from the existing catalogue? Please explain by referring to specific cases.

In the UK the exceptions to use are egregiously limited, they restrict review and the creation of derived works, even when the copyright has been in effect abandoned. For instance cover and tribute bands are in positions of legal uncertainty, and this does restrict the consumer market.

I write a non-commercial blog site in which I try to ensure that articles are decorated or reinforced by images. This blog consists of political and personal opinion. For pictures not taken by me, I try to use links, but this will mean that my web site becomes dependent on third party’s web sites. Copying and hoisting images on my blog may be legally uncertain. Searching for content which has been published under permissive licenses is hard. e.g Google, ixquick and duckduckgo do not have Creative Content filters.

In the UK, as in much of the world, copyright is strict; the default position is that published content is copyright, all rights reserved. This encourages the enclosure of content. This has been backdated effectively rest

The current state of law in the UK creates a state of uncertainty in my exercise of political free speech.

Furthermore, in the UK reuse for the purposes of format shifting is restricted. It is not acceptable that copyright holders can charge for the right to use content twice for different devices. It is not right that copyright holders can charge different prices for use in different formats.

Reuse for non-commercial use including non-commercial research should be excepted. Re-use for political speech should be excepted. Reuse for the purpose of review including critical review should be excepted.

Are there any other important matters related to the EU legal framework for copyright? Please explain and indicate how such matters should be addressed.

As part of my web diaries, I have created several slide show of pictures, on some occasions I have augmented the pictures with copyrighted pictures with permission. The slide shows are converted to video format and in some cases. I have added a soundtrack, usually a song. the digital version of the song on play in all the bars. In one case, I made a slideshow of a holiday trip, I have uploaded the finished product to Youtube. The soundtrack was a digital version of one of the popular songs on play in the bars in the holiday location. I received a copyright use warning for the sound track. I obtained the soundtrack through purchase at itunes, I believe the original copyright is a US held copyright.

This mixup video product has not been released because of the copyright warning I have received. There are others such video blogs that remain unfinished because of this state of affairs.

  • The pictures are mine, or I have permission.
  • I have paid for the right to use for the music.
  • This is a proposed non-commercial use.

The law needs greater clarity. I need greater protection.

Does the current civil enforcement framework ensure that the right balance is achieved between the right to have one’s copyright respected and other rights such as the protection of private life and protection of personal data?

No! Copyright is too powerful.

It’s period of protection is too long by factors of magnitude, the fact it is the default state of content criminalises a lot of personal use, the fact it is applied retrospectively by legislators to works without reference to the wishes of the publishers and the fact copyright holders and the law seek to prohibit non-commercial sharing is unacceptable.

The UK’s Digital Economy bill and the Copyright Act both place sever restrictions on the right to privacy, and in the former case, the right to a fair trial.

Are the current terms of copyright protection still appropriate in the digital environment?

The term is disgracefully long. It means that something created today will never be available in the public domain for all those alive today. The massive wealth creating opportunity by shortening the copyright term to a more real 20 years and enabling derived works is missed. The long terms are a nonsense and of economic value only to very few. Most copyright content has little value after 15 years. Furthermore long lived copyright has the effect of a monopoly; supply is restricted, prices enhanced and sub-optimal super-profits earned.

Digital goods are non-rival. Get used to it. Content creators who want to create a long lived tail need to create new or rediscover old means of distribution, by for instance performing plays or concerts. In the UK the performance of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” shows how new content can be transformed into long term revenue with the use of modern technology to enhance the story telling. The copyright term on digital content must be reduced to a more real 20 years, or less.

Culture is a social good. All rights reserved being the default state of content creation means that it’s private at the point of creation, strictness destroys the social.

At no other point in this questionnaire have I commented on software protection of copyright, also known as DRM. DRM distorts the software business. It criminalises bug reporting and seeks to deny control of the devices to their purchasers. The logical conclusion of copyright law in the digital age is the criminalisation of the user of computers. The UK Digital Economy Act 2010 is an example of how this might work in that it will restrict the defences available if accused of copying protected content.

There is a deliberate confusion between private and commercial infringement. The potential loss caused by a copying a song or film for private use is trivial. Penalties for such crimes should by civil and punishment made on the basis of redress. Exemplary damages should be illegal. Private criminal prosecution should be illegal.

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