German Pirate Party launch new agenda

June 2012

All areas

This from Monika Bruss writing on the 1709 Blog

In recent weeks, copyright critics and author’s rights aficionados in Germany have been waging a war of words in a multitude of open letters), newspaper articles and at birthday brunches (or maybe that was just the birthday brunch I attended yesterday…). At the core of the debate is the political success of the Piratenparty (“Pirate Party”) that runs, inter alia, on the slogan of “de-criminalisation of non-commercial file sharing”. The Piratenpartei is keen to stress that they do not want to abolish copyright protection outright, but that they envisage a better deal for authors and users alike (at the expense of the much-loathed content industry). Others point out that “de-criminalisation” of file sharing amounts to much the same thing as the abolition of copyright.

This morning, the Piratenpartei published what they deem the ten most important issues that should be addressed in reforming the current copyright law. As it is only available in German, I have translated (and somewhat summarised) them below:

(i)         The term of (copyright) protection shall be shortened to 10 years post mortem auctoris. Among other things, this would alleviate the orphan works problem.
(ii)         Authors’ shall receive stronger rights vis-à-vis right holders: authors shall regain their rights faster in case of non-exploitation and exclusive licences shall be limited to a maximum term of 25 years.
(iii)        Beyond the initial purchase price, institutions of public education shall not be required to pay for using copyright works.
(iv)        Libraries shall be entitled to store works in digital archives; free access for educational purposes shall be guaranteed.
(v)        The right to make private copies shall be defined and guaranteed; the creation of “remixes” and “mashups” shall be facilitated. Technological protection measures and digital rights management shall be abolished.
(vi)        [Authors and Artists]: Basically the same as (ii): reform of copyright contract law.
(vii)       Private, direct, non-commercial file sharing and the passing on of works shall be de-criminalised.
(viii)      New business models shall be developed (for instance “micropayment”, crowd funding, levies). Authors shall receive equitable remuneration but data protection must be guaranteed; mutual trust and new distribution channels are essential.
(ix)        The practice of sending warning letters to private individuals (asking them to cease and desist from infringing copyright and to pay the incurred attorneys’ fees) shall be stopped; in order to have free WLAN networks, the concept of “Störerhaftung” (“disturbance liability” – secondary liability for someone else’s infringement due to a breach of duty care) shall be abolished.
(x)        Copyright law shall meet the expectations of contemporary “media savvy” users and shall not restrict creative uses.

In addition, the Piratenpartei has appealed to authors, right holders and users to participate in a constructive dialogue on copyright law, with public debates concerning the following topics: collecting societies, rock and pop culture, classical music, authors/journalists, creators of films, software, and education/school (here). For each topic, there is a document on the Piratenpartei’s website where anyone interested can add questions or comments to be discussed in the respective debate. The first two debates are scheduled for 6 June (on collecting society GEMA) and 7 June (on authors, journalists and photographers).

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