Christian Engström, Pirat

12 april 2011

A game plan against copyright extension

Filed under: Copyright Term Extension,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 13:06

We need to get a renewed referral of the copyright extension directive, so that the European Parliament can discuss it properly

We now have a game plan for how to try to stop the extension of the copyright term for neighbouring rights from 50 to 70 years. You can read about the background in yesterday’s blog post. What we want to achieve is to overturn a decision to extend the protection time that was taken by the European Parliament in April 2009, after heavy lobbying by the record companies.

This morning we lost the vote on the small technical correction in the 2009 directive in the legal affairs committee JURI in the European Parliament. This was expected, and does not matter.

The encouraging thing about this morning’s session in JURI was that there was quite a lively debate on the subject, which would otherwise have been expected to just get rubber stamped by the committee without anybody taking any particular interest. This was no doubt due to the fact that Slashdot readers and others have been sending mails to their Members of the European Parliament yesterday. Thank you, everybody who did!

But now to the game plan.

According to Rule 59 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament, the parliament can reopen a dossier that is still in first reading if a new parliament has been elected since the first reading position was adopted. Since a new European Parliament was elected in June 2009, this is the case.

If 40 or more MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) ask for it, the proposal for a renewed referral will be put to the vote in plenary.

If we get a majority there, the President (speaker) of the Parliament shall ask the Commission to refer its proposal again to the parliament. This means that the dossier is open again, and we can have a full discussion about the subject matter.

This would be the sensible thing to do. The previous Parliament’s decision to extend the time for the neighbouring rights was ill considered, and has been heavily criticised by legal and economic scholars. There is no reason for the present Parliament to be bound by it.

We will now start the process of collecting at least 40 MEP signatures on the following text:

Request for
RENEWED REFERRAL
to Parliament

pursuant to Rule 59 of the Rules of Procedure

of  the proposal for a EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND COUNCIL DIRECTIVE amending Directive 2006/116/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the term of protection of copyright and related rights (COM(2008)0464 – C6-0281/2008 – 2008/0157(COD)).

If we can collect 40+ signatures, we should be able to get the item on the agenda for the parliamentary session in May. Then we will need citizens to email their MEPs to explain the issue and urge them to vote in the right way. But more about that when the time comes.

Now I’m off collecting signatures. :)

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Andra som skriver (på svenska): Henrik Alexandersson, Opassande, Anders S Lindbäck,

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10 april 2011

Copyright term extension will be voted this week

Filed under: Copyright Term Extension,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 13:17

This video from the Open Rights Group explains the background to the copyright term extension issue

Monday or Tuesday this upcoming week there will be another round in the fight against prolonging the copyright protection term for recorded music in the EU. Now is an opportunity to contact MEPs, Members of the European Parliament, and persuade them to vote against the term extension.

Background: In 2009, the EU discussed the issue of a term extension for the ”neighbouring rights” that record companies have to recorded music. These neighbouring rights are now 50 years from the recording of a song. The proposal was to extend them to 95 years. After a lively debate in the European Parliament, it was decided to extend them to 70 years. Then the issue got stuck in the Council of Ministers, where several countries (including Sweden and Denmark) felt that no extension was necessary. Now it appears that the Danish government has folded, which means that there is no longer a blocking minority in the Council.

Right now:
On the agenda for the meeting of the European Parliament’s legal affairs committee JURI this Monday and Tuesday, there has appeared a point about making certain formal corrections to the text that the European Parliament adopted (such as the date when the new rules should enter into force). It appears that they have been trying to give the issue a low profile. The documents were not sent out to members of the JURI committee until last Friday, after we had explicitly asked for them.

Now we need to raise some attention about this. It would also be useful if Members of the European Parliament (and in particular the ones in the JURI committee) start getting emails from citizens asking them to oppose the term extension.

We are now trying to find out whether it is enough if the changes to the parliament’s position are passed in the JURI committee, or if it will be voted in plenary as well. We will not know for certain until Monday morning.

There are several possibilities here. If the issue is still formally in ”first reading” in the Parliament (after the delay in the Council), there is a chance that we can get either the Green Group of 40 MEPs to demand that the issue is brought up for a renewed proper discussion. Since the European Parliament adopted its position, a new Parliament has been elected. It would be reasonable if we get a chance to have a say on the issue.

There are many questions, loose ends, rules, and possibilities. We who represent the Pirate Party in the European Parliament will be doing what we can. But the issue needs general attention. It would be very good if MEPs start getting mail about the issue. We also need blogs and media to take an interest.

This post is a translation of a blog post in Swedish by Henrik Alexandersson, who is my political assistant in the European Parliament.

This site will help you if you want to send mail to your MEPs, or you can use the official EU page to find the mail addresses.

Professor Bernt Hugenholtz at the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam (IViR) writes more about the background, and provides links to the many arguments against copyright extension that are well rehearsed and almost universally endorsed by copyright scholars and economists across Europe.

Links from 2009:
The Commission’s proposal [PDF]
The European Parliament’s Legistative Observatory, with track changes.
Sound Copyright

Update: For subsequent developments, see the category Copyright Term Extension

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15 februari 2008

EU-kommissionen vill förlänga upphovsrätten

Filed under: Copyright Reform,Copyright Term Extension,delad kultur,demokrati i eu — Christian Engström @ 16:04

Charlie McCreevyEU-kommissionären Charlie McCreevy vill att EU ökar skyddstiden för musikinspelningar från dagens 50 år till 95 år, rapporterar Free the Mind. Ännu en skärpning av upphovsrätten alltså. Mer pengar till skivbolag och döda artister.

Det som vi pratar om är inte den vanliga upphovsrätten för kompositörer och textförfattare. Den gäller ju redan idag under upphovsmannens livstid plus 70 år. Oscar Swartz gör en bra genomgång av de olika rättigheterna. Det som vi diskuterar nu är det som kallas de ”närstående rättigheterna”, alltså rätten till själva inspelningen. De gäller idag 50 år från när inspelningen gjordes, och kommissionen vill höja det till 95 år.

Som motiv serverar kommissionär McCreevy en gråtmild historia om ”tusentals studiomusiker från 50 och 60-talet” som enligt honom har förlitat sig på framtida royalties (som de visste att de inte skulle ha rätt till) som ”sin enda pension”. Men nu sitter de tydligen där med skägget i brevlådan och bör särbehandlas jämfört med alla andra som har låg pension. Snyft. Det är ju så att Lassie själv blir tårögd.

Fast man ska förstås observera att det handlar om rätten till royalties i den mån grejerna fortfarande säljer. Det finns ett antal evergreens som fortfarande drar in pengar (till exempel Beatles, det är därför lagförslaget har kommit just nu). Men det allra mesta från 50 och 60-talet genererar mycket lite eller ingenting alls i intäkter. Att påstå att det här är för alla anonyma studiomusikers skull är bara nonsens.

Men som sagt, råkar man vara det stora skivbolag som äger rättigheterna till Beatles’ inspelningar vill man förstås gärna fortsätta tjäna pengar utan att behöva lyfta ett finger. Då är det värt att betala för ett antal lobbyister i Bryssel som kan bearbeta tjänstemännen vid kommissionen över luncher och på seminarier med champagne efteråt. Det är det här som är EU:s demokratiska underskott i praktiken.

Därför är det inte det minsta förvånande att det kommer ytterligare ett vettlöst förslag från kommissionen om att utvidga upphovsrätten ännu mer, till de stora rättighetshavarnas fördel. Det kommer fortsätta komma den här typen av krav från Bryssel ända tills vi kan etablera en tillräckligt stark motkraft därnere. En chans att påbörja det arbetet kommer i juni 2009.

Men tills dess får vi räkna med fler missiler från EU-kommissionen.

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