Christian Engström, Pirate MEP

28 november 2009

Upprop: Telia – ta FRA-lagen till domstol

Postat i: FRA,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 21:47

3 dagar kvar

Idag är det 3 dagar kvar tills FRA får koppla in kablarna, och brevhemligheten avskaffas i Sverige.

Detta är ett öppet och gemensamt blogginlägg – kopiera, förbättra och publicera på din blogg.

Från och med den första december 2009 är Sverige en övervakad nation. Det är då som FRA får tillgång till en stor del av vår Internet- och mobiltrafik.

Detta kommer att få ett antal konsekvenser. De mest påtagliga är att flera grundläggande rättigheter i praktiken kommer att sättas ur spel. En självklarhet som brevhemligheten kommer efter den första december 2009 inte att existera på Internet. Även andra grundlagsskyddade rättigheter som källskyddet är starkt hotat. Många organisationer har skarpt protesterat mot FRA-lagen, bland andra Journalistförbundet och Advokatsamfundet. En majoritet av svenska folket är emot FRAs avlyssning.

Flera juridiska experter uttrycker dessutom stor tveksamhet till om FRA-lagen är förenlig med Europakonventionen, dvs. den europeiska konventionen angående skydd för de mänskliga rättigheterna. Sverige har förbundit sig att följa den konventionen och rimligtvis bör lagen alltså prövas i Europeiska domstolen för de mänskliga rättigheterna. Telia ansvarar idag för en majoritet av den trafik som FRA kommer att vilja avlyssna. Därför uppmanar vi Telia: ta FRA-lagen till domstol.

Telia har en chans att vinna goodwill genom att stå upp för demokratin.

…………

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Let’s write an Internet Bill of Rights

Postat i: Bill of Rights,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 9:25

for the Internet

The Pirate Party and the Green group in the European Parliament are planning to put forward an Internet Bill of Rights.

What do you think it should contain?

We haven’t written one yet, and we want to try a new way of doing so. We want to draft it together with the swarm on the Internet.

Everybody is hereby invited to participate and contribute.

We’ll start with a free form discussion, on especially two topics:

  • What should be in it?
  • What existing documents are there that we can cut and paste from?

The second question comes not just out of laziness a desire to work efficiently, but for a more fundamental reason. We don’t want to reinvent new fundamental rights, unless we absolutely have to.

We want to recognize the fact that the Internet is a central part of our society’s information infrastructure, and clarify that our fundamental human rights apply there as well, just like in the rest of society.

I will give a first draft of an answer to the first question: What sections should be in the Internet Bill of Rights?

  1. Fundamental rights. The European Convention on Human Rights should be respected on the net as well, including Article 8 (the right to privacy) and Article 10 (information freedom).
  2. Net neutrality. Internet operators should provide neutral connections without any restrictions on content, sites, platforms, or the kinds of equipment that may be attached.
  3. Mere conduit. I return for providing net neutrality, Internet operators and other suppliers of information infrastructure should not be held responsible for the information exchanged by their clients.

These are my first suggestions. Are there any other areas that ought to be covered by an Internet Bill of Rights? The floor is open, and all suggestions and comments are welcome.

Comments are even more welcome on the second question: What existing documents are there that already express things that should be in the Internet Bill of Rights?

The European Convention on Human Rights, obviously. But there are lots of other documents that are already established, that say what we want to say. The FCC definition of Net neutraly, a number of already passed EU directives, other documents by various groups or authorities…

Finding information is what the swarm is particularly good at. For that reason, I throw the question open. What is there that we should take into consideration?

The feeling I have after the successful conclusion of the Telecoms Package, is that there are many parliamentarians who agree that we need to address these issues now, and who want to be part of something good.

If we come up with a good proposal, it is not at all impossible that we will be able to build a strong political majority around it. Thing could happen here.

So let’s discuss what it is we want. The floor is open.

…………

Andra bloggar om: , , ,

27 november 2009

Parlamentets resolution om Stockholmspaketet

Postat i: informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 0:32

Kalle Larsson (V)

I veckan antog Europaparlamentet en resolution om Stockholmsprogrammet. Piratpartiet och den Gröna gruppen valde att avstå i slutomröstningen, medan Vänstern röstade nej.

Kalle Larsson (V) skriver om att Piratpartiet avstod i en kommentar:

När det gäller Stockholmsprogrammet har ni också inledningsvis varit synnerligen tydliga, bland annat här: Demonstration mot Stockholmsprogrammet

Sedan väljer ni ändå att i parlamentet inte protestera mot programmet, trots att det i allt väsentligt har samma innehåll och inriktning nu som tidigare.

Jag är förstås medveten om att själva Stockholmsprogrammet inte behandlas i EU-parlamentet, men den resolution som antogs på onsdagen var det tillfälle parlamentet, och därmed varje enskild parlamentariker, hade att tala om vad man anser om programmet.

I den omröstningen var det som bekant återigen bara vänstergruppen som röstade nej till programmet även om vi fick välkommet stöd av de två svenska miljöpartisterna som därmed röstade emot den gröna grupp ni gemensamt sitter i. Ni valde att avstå i omröstningen, vilket också gör mig såväl orolig som beklämd.

Jag svarar:

Att rösta nej var inte att rösta nej till Stockholmsprogrammet, utan till parlamentets kritik av Stockholmsprogrammet. Det är en helt annan sak.

Innan slutomröstningen hade det varit omröstningar om ett ganska stort antal ändringsförslag till parlamentets text. Vi och den Gröna gruppen hade ett halvdussin ändringar som vi själva såg som centrala (och som skulle ha inneburit skärpningar av parlamentets kritik av programmet). Det är genom att titta på de ändringsförslagen som man ser vad vi tycker.

När vi var framme vid slutomröstningen om hela resolutionen hade vi fått igenom ett av de centrala ändringsförslagen (om hur man ska tolka ordet ”balans”), men i runda slängar förlorat de övrga av våra ändringsförslag. Sammantaget var det alltså inte så skarp kritik som vi hade velat se, men en del bra kritik ändå.

I det här läget valde gruppen att avstå i slutomröstningen. Det var inte en så skarp resolution att vi ville ställa oss bakom den, men den innehåller trots allt en del bra (bland annat balansresonemanget), så vi ville inte rösta emot den.

Observera alltså att Piratpartiet följde den Gröna gruppens rekommendation (vilket tydligen inte svenska Miljöpartiet gjorde, om de röstade nej). Det här var en strategi som vi hade kommit överens om dagen innan under ledning av Jan Albrecht, som är gruppens skuggrapportör på Stockholmsprogrammet, och som vi samarbetar nära med.

Jag har full respekt för att V röstade nej i den här slutomröstningen, för ärligt talat var det ganska hugget som stucket om den bästa markeringen var att rösta nej eller avstå.

Men framför allt är det viktigt att komma ihåg att det inte var en omröstning om själva Stockholmsprogrammet, utan om en resolution med kommentarer från parlamentet, som inte har någon juridisk effekt alls. Själva Stockholmsprogrammet beslutas av ministerrådet, utan parlamentets medverkan.

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26 november 2009

Osaklighet och poserande från Vänstern

Postat i: informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 13:50

Kalle Larsson (V)

Det har utgått ett påbud från Vänsterns centrala kansli att hela världen ska dissa Piratpartiet. Eller, ja, hela vänsterbloggosfären åtminstone.

Kalle Larsson (V) (i kommentarer), Jonas Sjöstedt (V), Eva-Britt Svensson (V) och ett antal andra bloggar med anknytning till Vänstern kritiserar mig för att jag röstade ja till telekompaketet, trots att det inte innehåller ett fullständigt skydd mot avstängning, och trots att det inte föreskriver nätneutralitet.

Jag skulle också ha föredragit om telekompaketet hade innehållit nätneutralitet och ett ännu bättre skydd mot avstängning. Rent tekniskt hade det gått att få in det i telekompaketet, om förlikningsprocessen hade handlat om hela paketet, och inte bara tillägg 138.

På det allra första mötet med parlamentets förhandlingsdelegation (den 28 september) diskuterade vi just omfattningen av förlikningen. Piratpartiet och den Gröna gruppen ville att de fortsatta förhandlingarna skulle hålla hela telekompaketet öppet. Då hade vi kunnat ta en strid för nätneutralitet, och även kunnat gå längre beträffande allas rätt till tillgång till internet.

Det var vi tyvärr ensamma om att tycka. Alla de andra grupperna, inklusive Vänsterns representant Eva-Britt Svensson, röstade emot. Därmed blev beslutet att förlikningen bara skulle handla om tillägg 138. Det var ett nederlag för oss, och innebar att det varken blev möjligt att få in nätneutralitet eller starkare skydd mot avstängning i förlikningen om paketet. Men Piratpartiet och den gröna gruppen gjorde vad vi kunde.

Att man inte får allt man hade velat ha alla gånger, det är en del av politiken. Väljer man att arbeta parlamentariskt får man vara beredd på att det blir både nederlag och segrar. Jag accepterar att Socialdemokraternas och Kristdemokraternas linje vann med Eva-Britt Svenssons stöd, och att vi förlorade på den här punkten.

Men jag tycker det är sanslöst magstarkt att Vänstern nu går ut och kritiserar Piratpartiet för att vi inte lyckades få in nätneutralitet i förlikningsförhandllingarna, när de själva röstade emot oss när vi försökte. Nån jävla ordning borde det faktiskt vara även i Vänsterpartiet.

Det finns en väsentlig skillnad mellan Piratpartiet och Vänstern. Vi är inte ett protestparti ute i ena marginalen, som lockar väljare genom att protestera högljutt, men i praktiken lägger sig platt för Socialdemokraterna varje gång när det gäller.

Vi är ett frihets- och rättighetsparti som står upp för värden som vi anser centrala, i en tid när vi ser dem som hotade.

Vi är här för att arbeta så att vi når våra mål. Ibland kommer vi att vinna, ibland kommer vi att förlora. Men vi tar hellre ett litet steg i rätt riktning för att sedan jobba vidare på nästa steg, än röstar emot saker som i sig är positiva, bara för att kunna framstå som rebeller i media.

Det går inte att värna de medborgerliga rättigheterna med enbart politiska poser. Det är resultaten som räknas.

…………

Andra om Vänstern och telekompaketet: Rick Falkvinge (PP), Hax, Staffan Danielsson (C), Albin Ring Broman

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25 november 2009

Question to the Commission on ACTA

Postat i: ACTA,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 15:11

Written question to the Commission

Yesterday the European Parliament adopted the Telecoms Package. We now have an additional tool that we can use to ensure a free and open Internet.

It can be used to put pressure on governments in the member states not to introduce three-strikes laws, or similar repressive measures. But it can also be used directly on the EU level.

I have just submitted the following written question to the Commission, pursuant to Rule 117 in the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament:

To the Commission:

ACTA negotiations and the Telecoms Package principles

In the recent agreement on the Telecoms Package, it was decided that no measures restricting end-users’ access to the internet may be taken unless they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society – and never without a prior, fair and impartial procedure that includes the right to be heard and respects the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy.

Are the proposals currently being discussed in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations fully in line with the letter and the spirit of these provisions in the Telecoms Package? If not, when and how will the Commission redress any incompatibilities?

The answer from the Commission should appear in about six weeks.

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24 november 2009

The Telecoms Package is ammunition to stop Hadopi

Postat i: English,informationspolitik,Telecoms Package — Christian Engström @ 12:58

Final vote on the Telecoms Package

The Telecoms Package was formally adopted today by the European Parliament, with 510 votes for, 40 against and 24 abstentions.

As I said when I spoke in plenary yesterday, the compromise is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. In particular:

It declares that the French Hadopi law is not acceptable.

To see how, let us look at the adopted compromise text. I have analyzed it earlier in the blog post Landmarks in the Telecoms text, but here is the text again:

Article 1.3a:

3a. Measures taken by Member States regarding end-users’ access to or use of services and applications through electronic communications networks shall respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and general principles of Community law.

Any of these measures regarding end-user’s access to or use of services and applications through electronic communications networks liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be imposed if they are appropriate, proportionate and necessary within a democratic society, and their implementation shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with general principles of Community law, including effective judicial protection and due process. Accordingly, these measures may only be taken with due respect for the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to privacy. A prior fair and impartial procedure shall be guaranteed, including the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned, subject to the need for appropriate conditions and procedural arrangements in duly substantiated cases of urgency in conformity with European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The right to an effective and timely judicial review shall be guaranteed.

(emphasis added)

The French Hadopi law does not fulfill these criteria, since it does not include the right to be heard of the person or persons concerned.

The right to be heard is a quite central part of the compromise text, and it was inserted for a reason. The whole purpose of an Hadopi system is to be able to shut off a large number of suspected file shares with as little legal fuss as possible. The system is specifically designed to handle the large number of cases necessary to make getting caught a real risk for ordinary people.

By insisting that any procedure to shut people of from the internet should include the right to be heard prior to any measures being taken, the EU sends a very strong signal to the member states that laws like Hadopi are not acceptable in Europe.

If the French government wants to persist with its Hadopi law, they will have to amend it so that anybody who is accused gets the right to be heard before he is shut off from the internet. Otherwise, it is not in compliance with the Telecoms Package that was adopted by the EU today.

But an EU directive only has effect if the member states follow it. It is now up to activists on the national level to make sure that the governments of their respective countries do.

The EU today provided activists in France, the UK, and all other member states with ammunition to stop three-strikes laws from being passed on the national level. This battle has now moved from Brussels to the capitals of the member states.

Let’s make sure we win there as well.

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23 november 2009

Final debate on the Telecoms Package

Postat i: English,informationspolitik,Telecoms Package — Christian Engström @ 19:51

Telecoms Package debate in Strasbourg

Today the European Parliament held the final debate on the Telecoms Package. It will be voted in plenary tomorrow (and will be adopted then).

I got to hold a speech for two minutes in the debate. This is what I said:

We in the Swedish Pirate Party support the compromise that was reached on the Telecoms Package.

It is not perfect, and it is not everything we wanted. But it is a good step in the right direction.

Nobody should be shut off from the internet, at least not without a prior fair and impartial procedure, that includes the right to be heard and respects the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty.

The compromise sends a strong signal to the member states that legislation like the French Hadopi law or the Mandelson measures in the UK are not acceptable. It is now up to activists in France, the UK and other member states to make sure that their governments respect this on the national level.

For us in the European Parliament, this was just the beginning.

We need a proper Bill of Rights for the Internet, that makes it absolutely clear that the Internet is an important part of society, where our fundamental civil liberties must be respected.

This includes the right to information freedom and the right to privacy, as specified in the European Convention of Fundamental Rights.

We need net neutrality, and we need a policy that says yes to the fantastic possibilities of the Internet and the new information technology.

Europe has a unique opportunity to show leadership and set an example in the world for a free and open Internet. This is a chance we should take.

The road ahead is open.

This compromise is on a first step, but it is a step in the right direction. I encourage all colleagues to support it.

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Andra bloggar om: , , , ,

22 november 2009

A collecting society’s views on orphan works

Postat i: Copyright Reform,English,informationspolitik,Orphan Works — Christian Engström @ 12:34

GESAC, European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers

I got a mail on the subject of orphan works from Véronique Desbrosses, who is Director General of GESAC, which is an umbrella organization for collecting societies. She wanted to clarify the position of the collecting societies after the hearing on orphan works that the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee JURI held on November 10.

She has a very different view on the subject than I do, so I will quote the entire mail before giving my comments. Ms Desbrosses has confirmed that it  reflects GESAC’s official position.

She wrote:

Dear Mr Engström,

I would like to react to certain statements made at the seminar on orphan works organized by the Legal Committee on 10 November.

Amongst other things, it was claimed that entrusting authors’ societies with the management of orphan works would give rise to a conflict of interest because it would not be to their advantage to identify the authors. The argument being that the fewer authors they found, the greater the financial benefit to themselves (by keeping the remuneration paid for such works). This could not be further from the truth, because authors’ societies have no commercial purpose and so there is no possibility of profiting financially. The full amount of all copyright remunerations collected by management societies (less any cultural and social deductions provided for in their founding instruments or by law) are paid out to the authors.   Collective management societies are best placed to find the holders of rights in orphan works, not least thanks to the databases they keep.  The point also has to be made that collective management largely precludes works becoming orphaned. The number of orphan musical works, for example, is very small because almost the entire repertoire is managed collectively by authors’ societies.

The libraries also called for an exception for the free use of orphan works. We do not see this as acceptable, since it would effectively draw an arbitrary distinction between works whose rights holders are known, and works whose rights holders are as yet unidentified.  What possible justification can there be for allowing a work to be used free of charge on the pretext that its author has not yet been identified? Not to mention that making such a distinction would be apt to undermine the market by encouraging users to use only orphan or purportedly orphan works in order to avoid paying remuneration.

I trust that this information will be of interest to you.

Yours sincerely

Véronique Desbrosses

Secretary General
GESAC, European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers

Here are my comments on the mail:

Amongst other things, it was claimed that entrusting authors’ societies with the management of orphan works would give rise to a conflict of interest because it would not be to their advantage to identify the authors.

Exactly.

This could not be further from the truth, because authors’ societies have no commercial purpose and so there is no possibility of profiting financially.

The whole purpose of collecting societies is to collect money for the benefit of their members. To claim that they have no possibility of profiting financially is just ridiculous.

Collective management societies are best placed to find the holders of rights in orphan works, not least thanks to the databases they keep.

When a collecting society has the author of a work in their databases, it is not an orphan work. We are not discussing the works where the authors are known and have entrusted a collecting society with the task of managing the rights. Those works are not orphan.

An orphan work is a work where the author has not registered it with a collecting society, and where the collecting societies have no rights at all.

The point also has to be made that collective management largely precludes works becoming orphaned.

No, not at all. Collecting societies have been around for over a century. If the existence of collecting societies would ”largely preclude” works from becoming orphan, we wouldn’t have had the problem of orphan works in the first place.

But we do. This is why we are discussing it, why the European Commission wants to solve it, and why the legal affairs committee JURI organized the November 10 hearing in the first place. To deny that the problem exists is just silly.

The number of orphan musical works, for example, is very small because almost the entire repertoire is managed collectively by authors’ societies.

Collecting societies exist for all kinds of works, from books to music to photographs, and have existed for a long time. Yet the problem of orphan works is very real. If you look at photographs instead of music, probably the vast majority of all photographs taken during the 20th century fall in the category of orphan works.

The fact that the rights owners are known for most recorded music is not because there are collecting societies, but because 80% of the rights are owned by the four major record companies.

What possible justification can there be for allowing a work to be used free of charge on the pretext that its author has not yet been identified?

What possible justification can there be for not allowing a work to be used free of charge if the author has not even bothered to register his claim to the work?

It is not at all unreasonable to require that authors who want to control their works and get money for their use, at least register that claim so that people know where to send the money. Why shouldn’t they?

Not to mention that making such a distinction would be apt to undermine the market by encouraging users to use only orphan or purportedly orphan works in order to avoid paying remuneration.

Here the mask falls, at the very last sentence of the mail. The collecting societies don’t want our cultural heritage from the 20th century to become available. They think that this would ”undermine the market” for new works.

Whether this is a relevant fear is not the point. Personally, I feel absolutely confident that there will be a demand for new cultural works even if we manage to make our cultural heritage from the 20th century available to everybody.

But the important thing is how the collecting societies themselves see it. They have no interest in solving the problem of orphan works.

If they cannot get money for the works that they have no rights to, they prefer that the works remain unavailable in a legal limbo, so as not to ”undermine the market”.

I am very grateful to Ms Desbrosses for stating this so plainly on behalf of the collecting societies that she represents.

…………

Previous articles on orphan works:

Orphan works hearing in JURI
A librarian’s views on orphan works

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20 november 2009

A librarian’s views on orphan works

Postat i: Copyright Reform,English,informationspolitik,Orphan Works — Christian Engström @ 12:56

Elisabeth Niggemann, German National Library

Elisabeth Niggemann is Director General of the German National Library, as well as chairman of the foundation behind the Europeana project. She was one at the speakers on the hearing on orphan works that the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee JURI organized on November 10, 2009.

She had very interesting things to say on the subject of orphan works, and the problems that our current copyright legislation create for libraries that want to make their collections available in the digital age.

I think we should listen very closely to what librarians have to say on these matters. Public libraries have several hundred years of experience of doing exactly what we want to do now: to preserve our common cultural heritage, and to make it available to researchers, teachers, students, creators, and the general public. The perspective that librarians, archivists, and museum curators bring to the table is a valuable one.

In connection with the hearing in JURI, Ms. Niggemann also presented the views of Europana and the German National Library in a short paper titled How to deal with Orphan Works in the digital world. It is well worth reading in its entirety, but I will summarize it by giving some quotes from it here.

Ms. Niggemann of Europana and the German National Library writes:

Today’s users are already – and future users will be even more – used to finding everything on the internet. “If it’s not on the Web, it doesn’t exist at all” is their credo and especially librarians have already experienced the consequences of this attitude.

What is on the Web is the material that is published and distributed in electronic form as born digital works by commercial publishers and other publishing bodies or individuals. What is also slowly getting on the Web is the digitised cultural heritage. The digitisation progress is slow because there is little extra money in cultural institutions for digitisation. There is Google of course, digitising big libraries. But all in all progress is slow and only brings out-of-copyright material to the Web. If there are exceptions to this rule, they are either disputed – as is the Google example – or they are highly time consuming and therefore extremely expensive, because of the necessary rights clearance procedures that have to be worked through before digitisation.

More often than not, the rights clearance is more expensive than the actual digitisation. And very often clearing the rights is even not possible – or at least not possible within an economically justifiable approach. For a mass digitisation approach the original rights holders or their heirs or other transferees are practically speaking unlocatable. This is, as we all know, where we begin to talk about orphan works.

Depending on the definition of “orphan works” and depending on the practical meaning of “diligent search”, the percentage of expected orphan works among in-copyright works and the costs to prove that they really are orphan works will vary greatly. Variations in costs and in percentage are also significant depending on the country of origin of the work on the one side and depending on the cultural sector on the other side: rights clearance for books is different from rights clearance for music recordings, films or photographs, for instance, and some countries have a better infrastructure for rights clearance than others.

Taking all together, what we see is a “black hole of the 20th century” in digital libraries. There are the recent, born digital works, that are offered by publishers and domain specific distributors or that can be found in repositories of research facilities and cultural institutions and there are the historical cultural heritage works, digitised from out-of copyright physical copies from the shelves and holdings of cultural institutions. Between these two worlds of content, there is a vast empty space that will lead to a digital amnesia of most works from the 20th century – if no action is taken to fill the “black hole”.

Ms. Niggemann then describes in some detail how complicated and expensive it is to clear the rights for digitizing a work under current copyright regime, giving the situation in Germany as an example. She continues:

There is absolutely a need for a European-wide solution. A European-wide solution is actually only a first step. Digital libraries within national or even EU-borders are not realistic because there will always be ways to get access across borders within the Web.

Legal certainty across Europe is required to provide a strong basis for libraries to digitise orphan works. It is necessary to introduce clarity around the digital nature of library exceptions. In order to achieve legal certainty for all stakeholders, these exceptions must be legally binding in all Member States.

The pending settlement between Google and the AAP clearly shows what kind of situation can arise: Large quantities of out-of-print works of European origin that are in-copyright in the EU, but out-of-copyright in the US, are being digitised and made available in the US only. Such an imbalance in access to historical and cultural information needs to be urgently addressed by the EU, in part, through exceptions to copyright law.

At this point I would like to quote from the CENL (Conference of European National Libraries) statement on the Green Paper – Copyright in the Knowledge Economy (2008):

“Clarification in law is the role of the legislator and should not be left to interested parties to negotiate as it is the prime role of government to arbitrate where the balance in copyright should lie. Only legislation can guarantee that the interests of the creator are balanced with the public interest, for the good of wider society. It is not acceptable that vital issues such as the flow of knowledge in the information society are simply left to the vagaries of soft law or private negotiation.”

“These questions relate to the role of libraries in the digital world. … as repositories of human knowledge, in a society where information is becoming synonymous with economic growth, the role of libraries in the digital world must be strongly supported. Given the large public financial investment in libraries, it is not acceptable that the role of a library as the prime source of aggregated scholarly information is undermined by incomplete and piecemeal legislation.”

With respect to orphan works, CENL’s recommendation was: “Legal certainty across Europe is required to provide a strong basis for libraries to digitise Orphan Works.”

And, to end on a personal note, I think that a modern copyright framework which applies to the new digital world is urgently needed. It is crucial that this modern framework considers the different demands of each stakeholder. To start with orphan works and the need of bringing them out of the “dark” into the open, of making them available to a wide public via the Web, would be an excellent beginning.

Well said, says I.

…………

Andra som skriver om Orphan Works och digitalisering: SvD, Bokens framtid, Oscar Swartz, DN, Svensson, En annan sida, Anders S Lindbäck, Niklas noterar, Niklas noterar

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16 november 2009

Orphan works hearing in JURI

Postat i: Copyright Reform,English,informationspolitik,Orphan Works — Christian Engström @ 18:10
think_culture_logo_top_2

Europeana

Last Tuesday, there was a very interesting workshop on orphan works in the EU legal affairs committee JURI.

An orphan work is a work that is still in copyright, but where the rights owner is not known or cannot be found. It can be a book, a song, a film, or a photo, or any other kind of work that falls under the copyright legislation.

Orphan works present a big problem for anybody who would want to use them. If you just go ahead without getting a permission, you run the risk that the rights holder suddenly turns up and sues you for a large amount. As we all know, courts can be quite prepared to set the damages for even minor copyright infringements to pretty astronomical figures. In many cases, this is simply not an acceptable risk.

But since there is no known rights holder that you can ask for a license, there is nothing you can do about it. No matter how valuable you think it would be to share that work with the world, there is no way to do it without breaking the law and exposing yourself to a great financial risk. The orphan works are effectively locked away by the copyright system.

This is not a small or marginal problem. A large part of our common cultural heritage from the 20th century falls into this category. About 75% of the books that Google want to digitize as part of their Google Books initiative are out of print, but still under copyright.

Even if it is theoretically possible to find the rights holders for many of these books by making a thorough investigation in each individual case, it simply becomes unfeasible when you want to do mass digitization.

And Google Books is not the only project to digitize works and make them available, even if it is the one that has attracted the most attention lately. There is an EU project called Europeana with a similar goal, as well as the open initiative Project Gutenberg. All of these are being held back by the problem of orphan (or semi-orphan) works.

Unless we do something, most of our common cultural heritage from the 20th century risks getting lost in a black hole before it becomes legal to save it for posterity. The Commission wants to address this problem, and solve it as quickly as possible. This a very good thing, and an initiative that we should support.

The workshop in JURI started with some introductory remarks by JURI chairman Klaus-Heiner Lehne (Christian Democrats, DE) and Swedish state secretary Magnus Graner, who was in Brussels for the event.

The next speaker was Tilman Lüder, who is head of the unit for Copyright and Knowledge-based Economy at the Commission. He gave a very thorough briefing on the subject.

There are essentially three possible solutions to the problem:

  1. Do nothing, and accept that most works that are younger than about 150 years cannot be digitized,
  2. Introduce a statutory exception on the European level, to permit the use of orphan works, or
  3. Introduce a system based on collective licensing.

If we rule out option 1 as being unacceptable, the choice stands between a statutory exception and collective licensing.

Collective licensing means that you legislate to the effect that for works where the rights holder cannot be found, management of the copyright is taken over by a collecting society, who will then be able to negotiate on behalf of the (real) rights holder, and collect money that will be given to the rights holder if he should turn up at a later date.

In a completely unsurprising manner, this is the solution favored by the collecting societies. Since, after all, most of the rights holders will never appear, the collection society can look forward to quite a lot of money that will never be claimed by anybody.

Even though the collecting societies explicitly do not have any rights to the works (which are, after all, orphan), they still want to be able to collect money from anybody who is interested in making these works available as part of our common cultural heritage.

At the workshop, this position was represented by Tarja Koskinen-Olsson, from the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFFRO). This is an umbrella organization for collecting societies in various countries.

A statutory exception means that you legislate to make the orphan works available directly, according to rules that are specified in the exception. This is the solution that the public libraries and their organizations prefer. At the workshop, this view was represented by (among others) Elisabeth Niggemann, representative of Europeana and director general of the German National Library.

In order to be effective, the exception would have to be introduced at the European level, so that works that have been digitized in one member state may be made available in other countries as well. If the exceptions were to be on the national level, this would not be enough to create a single European digital market and make European culture available to us all. But a European level statutory exception could untie the knot.

Regardless of whether the solution that is ultimately chosen is based on collective licensing or statutory exceptions, there is a need to create a searchable register of copyrighted material, so that it becomes possible to determine the status of a work, and find the rights holders if they are known.

There is an initiative called ARROW, which stands for Accessible Registries of Rights Information and Orphan Works. The idea behind this register is to document works that have been established to have orphan status, after a diligent search for the rights holders has been made without success.

The problem with this approach is that it normally is quite a burdensome task to carry out this diligent search for each work. Many older works (perhaps the majority) simply do not have enough commercial value to justify such a search, even if they still have cultural value to at least some people, who would be interested if they were made available.

A much better solution would be to have a register where rights holders can register the works that they have an interest in upholding their copyright on.

The statutory exception would then specify that for works that were published more than, say, 10 years ago, the rights holder must register the work if he wants to continue collecting royalties on it. Otherwise, the work will be considered to be free to use for anybody.

If the rights holder for a work that is older than 10 years later turns up he would be allowed to register his rights, but he would not have the right to demand compensation for use of the work during the time when it was not registered. This rule is necessary to provide legal certainty.

Since I am a member of the JURI committee, I was allowed to give my comments during the workshop, and I expressed my support for a statutory exception along these lines. Except for the representative from the collecting societies, I got the impression that most of the other parties involved would be happy with a solution like this.

For companies and individuals that hold the rights to commercially valuable older works, it is a very small burden to register the work and provide a public record of whom to contact to negotiate for licenses. And for the millions of works from the 20th century where the rights owners no longer have an interest, at least not commercially, they will automatically become available for digitization and other use as part of our common cultural heritage.

In my mind, this would represent a true win-win solution that can be implemented very easily and fairly quickly by an EU initiative. This is an issue that needs to be resolved to bring Europe into the information age in a sensible way.

Let’s go for it.

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