The team is joined by GuestKats Mirko Brüß, Rosie Burbidge, Nedim Malovic, Frantzeska Papadopolou, Mathilde Pavis, and Eibhlin Vardy
InternKats: Rose Hughes, Ieva Giedrimaite, and Cecilia Sbrolli
SpecialKats: Verónica Rodríguez Arguijo (TechieKat), Hayleigh Bosher (Book Review Editor), and Tian Lu (Asia Correspondent).

Saturday, 18 January 2014

It's copyright week, but also time to respond to EU Public Consultation on copyright

Merpel is a great
fan of Hawaii
Today marks not just the anniversary of the first discovery by a European of one of the places this Kat has always dreamed to visit, ie the Hawaiian Islands [James Cook did so in 1778, and named them Sandwich Islands in honour of the Earl of Sandwich - this one, not this one], but also the second anniversary of the protests against two laws proposed in the US Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). 

IPKat readers interested in either holidays or copyright will be aware that copyright reform discussions are taking place a bit everywhere right now, including the US and EU [see here].

Speaking of the former, to mark the anniversary of the anti-SOPA/PIPA protests, a number of organisations (including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, the American Library Association, the Medical Library Association, the Open Knowledge Foundation, and others) has organised Copyright Week, a 6-day event focusing on the discussion and promotion of a number of core principles that - it is believed - should inform copyright reform debate.

They are:
    Transparency - Copyright policy must be set through a participatory, democratic and transparent process. It should not be decided through back room deals or secret international agreements.

    Building and defending a robust public domain - The public domain is our cultural commons and a public trust. Copyright policy should seek to promote, and not diminish, this crucial resource.

    Open access - The results of publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public online, to be fully used by anyone, anywhere, anytime.

    You bought it, you own it - Copyright policy should foster the freedom to truly own your stuff: to tinker with it, repair it, reuse it, recycle it [Merpel hopes that at least dedicated bins shall be provided], read or watch or launch it on any device, lend it, and then give it away (or re-sell it) when you're done.

    Fair use rights - For copyright to achieve its purpose of encouraging creativity and innovation, it must preserve and promote ample breathing space for unexpected and innovative uses.

    Getting copyright right - A free and open Internet is essential infrastructure [by the way, have you also checked this out yet?], fostering speech, activism, new creativity and new business models for artists, authors, musicians and other creators. It must not be sacrificed in the name of copyright enforcement.
    Looking for some ideas to celebrate
    Van Gend & Loos
    anniversary in style?
    In parallel to Copyright Week, in Europe it is already reform time, as 5 February is not just the 51th anniversary of the seminal decision of the European Court of Justice in Van Gend & Loos, but also the closing date for responding to the Public Consultation of the European Commission on the review of EU copyright rules [see here]

    As was announced on the IPKat, at the end of December last a new interest group called Fix Copyright! and composed of a large number of interest groups from across Europe, was launched.

    Fix Copyright! believes in balanced copyright laws that encourage community participation, facilitate economic growth and spur innovation. 

    It supports: flexible copyright exceptions that enable innovation; fair and proportionate liability for copyright infringement; equitable access to information for educators, libraries, cultural institutions and the wider community; and fair and proportionate incentives for creators.

    Fix Copyright! is against: copyright laws that distort the balance between the interests of rights holders and broader public interest in access to knowledge; and the use of technological or contractual measures to unfairly restrict access to content.

    If you go to Fix Copyright!'s Answering Wizard you can have a fun weekend answering the Public Consultation and - most importantly - you can have your voice heard in such an important debate.

    You can also follow Fix Copyright! on Twitter here.


    Anonymous said...

    "Fixing copyright" is really Robin Hood in reverse. Steal from the poor to give to the rich (huge technology and telecomms corporations)

    Mes chatons - was this a sponsored advertorial?

    Eleonora Rosati said...

    Dear Anonymous,

    Unfortunately and as much as I would like to buy a new pair of shoes, it was not. It seems to me that Fix Copyright! just intends to allow stakeholders along the copyright spectrum to share their views on EU copyright reform debate. Therefore it seemed like a good idea to let IPKat readers know about this possibility.

    Anonymous said...

    Responding to the statement of "The public domain is our cultural commons and a public trust. Copyright policy should seek to promote, and not diminish, this crucial resource."

    At least n the US, one needs to read Golan v. Holder and its discussion on the propriety of removing something from the public domain and re-instituting copyright rights into private hands as a way of promoting the public benefit.

    The gist of the decision appears to be that a strong copyright - even (especially?) one that appears to rob from the commons in the short term actually strengthens that very same commons because a stronger right induces more effort to begin with. It ssems to take from the President Lincoln position that if everyone knows that they will be more richly rewarded, then more will want to take part in that program, and if more take part in that program, then the public will have more benefit when the limited times rights expire.

    Anonymous said...

    Responding to the comment of "The results of publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public online, to be fully used by anyone, anywhere, anytime."

    Unfortunately, the pollyanna version of this has been shown (historically) to be simply untrue (again, at least from the vantage point of the US).

    The undeniable and massive success of the Bayh-Dole act (in the patent realm) shows a stark difference when the fuel of interest is added. Prior to that legislation, the 'in the public domain' aspect was in place, and the government-spent monies resulted largely in waste and non-use. Sure, 'the commons' sounds all good and noble, but it ignores actual human nature. Pretty much exactly why the concept of communism completely fails in any real world application. All apologies to Jane Fonda, of course.

    Anonymous said...

    Regarding the comment "The results of publicly funded research should be made freely available to the public online, to be fully used by anyone, anywhere, anytime."

    Then you really should be upset with a recent US decision that gives even more power to a Federal Agency to control that very wide platform called the internet. At first blush, the decision appears to be a win for such 'freedom,' but a closer inspection yields the opposite conclusion. All that the open population gets from the Agency head is a (nonbinding) statement that the power will be used 'sparingly.'

    How often have political powers mouthed that phrase in the past, and then proceeded to do the exact opposite?

    Anonymous said...

    And lastly, regarding the comment of "and fair and proportionate incentives for creators"

    Sorry, but that made me gag.

    Anytime anyone wants to change the law, the spin of "let's make it more fair" is a meaningless phrase that only means that the change will affect people differently than the status quo and the proposed change is merely 'more fair' in the eyes of those wanting the change.

    It is an empty platitude. Of course the change is considered 'more fair' by the person, group or entity suggesting the change.

    The devil is in the details.

    Anonymous said...

    I am sorry, Elenora, but did you bother to read the suggested responses at the Fix Copyright website? How can you say that "Fix Copyright! just intends to allow stakeholders along the copyright spectrum to share their views on EU copyright reform debate"? It's a propaganda piece designed to elicit particular responses that will support so-called "copyright reform." Each of the "Explanations" on the site suggest such responses.

    Eleonora Rosati said...

    Thanks Anonymous at 01.27.

    I am not aware of initiatives other than Fix Copyright! in relation to the Public Consultation, but if you are do please let me know and I will be happy to bring them to readers' attention (="advertise" them).

    Also, if you want to share your views with a broader audience, I will be happy to host a comment of yours on the blog. If you are interested just drop me an email.

    Anonymous said...

    I think it should be made more clear what Fix Copyright is about and which organizations do really support it. Then readers can decide whether these specific organizations will provide for a balanced dialogue on copyright reform.

    Further, will the Commissions consultation lead to a better result, representing all stakeholders in a balanced way, if Fix Copyright provides citizens with pre-formulated answers? History suggests not (see consultation on trade secrets 2013, page 3, (

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