Christian Engström, Pirat

18 januari 2010

The Pirate Party on copyright

Filed under: Copyright Reform,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 5:08

File Sharing = Love

The Pirate Party does not want to abolish copyright; we want to reform it. This is why and how.

Today’s copyright laws are out balance, and out of tune with the times. It has turned the entire young generation into criminals in the eyes of the law, in a futile attempt at stopping the technological development. Yet, file sharing has continued to grow exponentially. Neither propaganda, fear tactics, nor ever harsher laws have been able to stop development.

File sharing is when two private individuals send ones and zeros to eachother. The only way to even try to limit file sharing, is to introduce complete surveillance of everybody’s private communication. There is no way to separate private messages from copyrighted material without opening the message and checking the contents. Out goes the postal secret, the right to communicate in private with your lawyer or your web-cam flirt, or your whistle-blower protection if you want to give a sensitive story to a journalist.

We are not prepared to give up our fundamental rights to enforce today’s copyright. The right to privacy is more important than the right of big media companies to continue to make money in the same way as before, because the latter right does not even exist.

Today’s copyright also prevents or restricts many new and exciting cultural expressions. Sampled music on MySpace, remixes on YouTube, or why not a Wikipedia filled with lots of pictures and music in the articles? Copyright legislation says no.

The copyright laws must either be reformed or abolished outright. The Pirate Party advocates the reform alternative.

We want to set all non-commercial copying and use free, and we want to shorten the commercial protection time. But we want to keep the commercial exclusivity in a way that allows most business models that are viable today to continue to work.

The Pirate Party’s proposal can be summarized in five points:

  1. No changes to the moral rights
    We propose no changes at all to the moral rights of the author, i.e.: the right to be recognized as the author, and his right to say no if he feels offended.If somebody has taken a picture of his county’s flag over a beautiful (presumably national) landscape, and some neo-nazis use it on their web page, he should have the same right as today to have the picture removed by referring to his moral rights.

    Nobody should be allowed to claim that they are ABBA, or have written all of Bono’s songs. To the extent that this is a real world problem, it should still be illegal to do so. ”Give credit where it’s due” is a good maxim that everybody agrees with.

  2. Free non-commercial use
    Up until twenty years ago, copyright was hardly anything that concerned ordinary people. The rules about exclusivity on the production of copies where aimed at commercial actors, who had the means to, for exmple, print books or press records.

    Private citizens who wanted to copy poem and send to their loved one, or copy a record to cassette and give it to a friend, did not have to worry about being in breach of copyright. In practice, anything you had the technical means to do as a normal person, you could do without risk of any punishment.

    But today, copyright has evolved to a position where it imposes serious restrictions on what ordinary citizens can do in their every-day life. As technological progress has made it easier for ordinary people to enjoy and share culture, copyright legislation has moved in the opposite direction.

    The Pirate Party wants to restore copyright to its origins, and make absolutely clear that it only regulates copying and for commercial purposes. To share copies, or otherwise spread of use somebody else’s copyrighted work, should never be prohibited if it is done non-commercially and without a profit motive. Like, for example, file sharing.

  3. Five years of commercial exclusivity
    Much of today’s entertainment industry is built on the commercial exclusivity on copyrighted works. This, we want to preserve. But today’s protection times — life plus 70 years — are absurd. No investor would even look at a business case where the time to pay-back was that long.

    We want to shorten the protection time to something that is reasonable from both society’s and an investor’s point of view, and propose five years from publication.

  4. Free sampling — codified ”fair use”
    Today’s ever more restrictive copyright legislation and practice is a major obstacle to musicians, film makers, and other artists who want to create new works by reusing parts of existing works.

    We want to change this, so that the default rule becomes that it is legal to create new works out of existing ones. To the extent one wants to limit certain forms of commercial adaptions, like for example translations of new literature or the use of new music in films, these restrictions should be explicitly enumerated in the law.

  5. A ban on DRM
    DRM is an acronym for ”Digital Restrictions Management”. The term is used to denote a number of different technologies that all aim to restrict consumers’ and citizens’ ability use and copy works, even when they have a legal right to do so.

    We want to introduce a ban on DRM technologies in the consumer legislation. There is no point in having our parliaments introduce a balanced and reasonable copyright legislation, if at the same time we allow the big multinational corporations to write their own laws, and enforce the through technical means.

This is what the Pirate Party proposes.

The proposal is completely in line with ideas that have been voiced in the international debate, such as Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture or Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks. This is bigger than just the question of how the current big rights holders should should continue to make money. This is about which kind of society we want.

”But how should the artists get paid, if file sharing is set free?” is the question that always comes up in the discussion.

Well, ”how” is not really for us to say as politicians. To find a business model that works for him is up to the individual entrepreneur, in the cultural sector just like in any other industry. But we are certain that the cultural sector as a whole will continue to do well, and this of course makes us happy.

In the economic statistics, we can see that household spending on culture and entertainment is slowly increasing year by year. If we spend less money on buying CD records, we spend more on something else, like for instance going to live concerts. This is great news for the artists. An artist will typically get 5-7% of the revenues from a CD record, but 50% of the revenues from a concert. The record companies lose out, but this is only because they are no longer adding any value.

It may well be that it will become more difficult to make money within some parts of the cultural sector, but if so, it will become easier in some other — including new ones, that we have not even imagined so far. But as long as the total household spending on culture continues to be on the same level or rising, nobody can claim that the artists as a group will have anything to lose from a reformed copyright.

Should this also have the side effect of loosening up some of the grip that the big distributors have over cultural life, then so much the better for both ”artists” and ”consumers”.

The world will become a little more fun.


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27 kommentarer

  1. Thank you. Very balanced and fair.

    Kommentar av Kalle — 18 januari 2010 @ 6:25

  2. Jag har skrivit ett litet bloginlägg där jag funderar över de moraliska rättigheterna med hänsyn till Fanfiction.

    Och Jag tror att piratpartiet faktiskt bör jobba för en viss skärpning av lagstiftningen då det gäller moraliska rättigheter.

    Specifikt ett tydligare krav på att man klargör att det är Fanfiction så att det inte kan förväxlas med orginalet (Vilket skulle kränka de moraliska rätigheterna för orginalets författare)

    Kommentar av christoffer — 18 januari 2010 @ 7:05

  3. Varför talar ingen om Cyber Security Act som tydligt visar att man planerar att stänga av hela internet!!!! KOM IGEN NU, UPPMÄRKSAMMA ERA POLITIKER OM DETTA!!!

    Bill would give president emergency control of Internet

    The Cybersecurity Act of 2009

    Klicka för att komma åt CYBERSEC4.pdf

    Should Obama Control the Internet?

    Klicka för att komma åt rockefeller.revised.cybersecurity.draft.082709.pdf

    Kommentar av Anonym — 18 januari 2010 @ 7:48

  4. I think it could be problematic with sugesting a ban on DRM solutions tbh.

    However it would make more sence to make sure that the companys HAVE to print it out on the product so that the consumer knows that the product have a DRM protection, this could be a solution for example for renting movies. The biggest problem with these soulutions is that normally they have restrictions on what hardware/software they can be used on. But this is also something that they would have to tell their customers in that case, similar to that a PS3 disc wont work in a PS2.

    I’m in no way for DRM protection, mostly because i don’t like restrictions when i try to do something, but I can see where it can have it’s uses.

    Kommentar av Isak — 18 januari 2010 @ 8:56

  5. @3: om usa vill klippa sig ifrån internet när det passar… by all means (the sooner the better!). dock tror jag det är omöjligt att kontrollera hela internet. TCP/IP är redan uppfunnet, vi kan bygga om det, med bättre protokoll om det behövs. nya tekniker som delay tolerant networks finns i värsta fall.

    Kommentar av eij^ — 18 januari 2010 @ 10:42

  6. “Free samling” should be “Free sampling”. Great article, by the way!

    Kommentar av Caspian Rehbinder — 18 januari 2010 @ 11:55

  7. @Isak: There’s no need to worry about a ban on DRM from the perspective you’re highlighting. A ban would be valid for artificial restrictions only. It may so happen that a specific medium will play in one hardware configuration but not another, such as your example with PS generations. That wouldn’t be part of a ban. The ban would be on artificially restricting cross-hardware compatibility or demanding that other vendors enforce restrictions on their hardware or buy out from such demands, as has been the case with DVD zones as an example.

    Excellent summary, Christian!

    Kommentar av Jakob — 18 januari 2010 @ 13:21

  8. I would propose a somewhat different scheme.
    I five year term with free registration in a central register. With a possibility to an extended term of up to fifteen years in five year increments with increasing fee for registration. The maximum commercial copyright term would then be twenty years. This should be time enough for publishing houses to milk the more popular works. It would also give some protection to the works that “catch on” late.

    Also the term should not start at the moment of registration. Rather at the first commercial release, and per media type, i.e. it should not be ok for Hollywood to make a film based on a book without paying the author after five years. Some compromise should be made between the protection granted under the registration and the protection under commercial release. For example a stated grace period of 10 years after registration before the first commercial protection term starts to run by default. This would accord writers and other artists a period of 15 years to try to get published, which is actually not uncommon, and still grant them the possibility to collect for a period of between 15 and 20 years.

    Another thing to consider is that it is actually not an altogether bad idea to tax commercially successful and established works for a longer period, in order to promote new players. A longer copyright term for the more successful works is going to shift the market towards works with shorter terms. If we want to promote diversity we should grant the possibility to extend the copyright terms with increasing fees.

    Kommentar av Mumfi — 18 januari 2010 @ 13:33

  9. Also, I’m against any restriction on DRM.
    If the distributors want to implement schemes to restrict access it should be up to them. Let the market sort things out. It should be enough to remove artificial market restrictions protecting DRM. It should be legal to break it. It should be legal to sell equipment that breaks it. It should be clearly specified that it is applied on a product, preferably in a generally understood codified form akin to the CC licence pictograms. If the product does not fulfil the codified promises, the product should be considered defective as defined in the consumer right laws.

    If the customer is willing to pay a surcharge for a commercial DRMed product, obviously the customer values that product more than the freely available alternatives.

    Kommentar av Mumfi — 18 januari 2010 @ 13:48

  10. DRM står nog egentligen för ”digital rights management” – digital rättighetshantering. Men din uttydelse var rätt kul.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 18 januari 2010 @ 14:23

  11. The ban of DRM point is somewhat questionable. Because if we reserve the right to encrypt our mail to ensure our privacy – which I assume is a part of pirate policy – then we cannot really expect content providers not to employ the same technology to make business. Basically it’s a freedom of expression argument.

    The target should be DMCA-like legislation which makes it forbidden to circumvent DRM-schemes or to propagate knowledge of circumvention methods, even though there may be a justified reason to breach such protection.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 18 januari 2010 @ 14:51

  12. @Johan Tjäder #11,

    We discussed this in our forum a long time ago, and it appears that that problem can be solved rather elegantly by defining ”DRM” as ”technical systems that prevent users from doing things they have a legal right to do”.

    It turns out that this would cover all the things we normally mean when we say DRM, since they all restrict at least some uses that are actually legal.

    You are, after all, allowed to make backup copies, copies to give to a small circle of friends etc. Since there is no way a technical system can take all the exceptions and limitations of copyright law into account, I think this definitions holds.

    Encrypted mail and similar things do not fall under this definition, however, since nobody but the sender and the reciever have any legal rights to read the mail.

    Kommentar av Christian Engström — 18 januari 2010 @ 18:53

  13. I think that the moral rights should be restricted and not give the creator the right to block dissemination of his work unless there are some very strong reasons for that (information wants to be free).

    You also forgot how to deal with orphan works.

    I know, with a five year period these problems will be much smaller but in a transition time when copyright still spans more than a century I think that the PP should have a policy about orphan works.

    Kommentar av Putte — 18 januari 2010 @ 19:41

  14. Över längre tid sett – så kan det måhända vara så att det ENORMT växande internet visar sig vara HELT OMÖJLIGT att överhuvudtaget reglera si eller så. Den dagen kommer internet att vara lika OSTYRBART som wåra tankar är.

    ”Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That’s our commitment.” = statement av Jimmy Donal ”Jimbo” Wales.

    Med andra ord sagt – så kommer över lite tid sett internetreglerings”flaggorna” att HELT AUTOMATISKT behöva sänkas mer och mer. Så PP är åt hållet ”helt rätt på det” – menar Josef B. 😉

    Kommentar av Josef Boberg — 18 januari 2010 @ 20:31

  15. In addition to the five points outlined above I think the Pirate Party should needs to address the following:

    6) Copyright should be opt-in, not opt-out. Currently an individual’s work is automatically copyright as soon as it is manifest in some physical form (including electronic form). The author does not have to specify it is copyright – it is copyright by default. If the author wishes to place the work in the public domain, then they must explicitly do so (for example by using a creative commons license).

    The situation should be reversed. Namely a work should by default be in the public domain and should only be copyright if the author explicitly makes it copyright.

    7) Orphan works. Although the problem of orphan works is reduced by a shorter copyright term, it is not eliminated. I’ve written about orphan works on my blog, see:

    In summary: provided a user makes a documented, good faith, diligent but unsuccessful search for the copyright holder of an orphan work, the user is free to use the work. (Of course the terms ‘diligent’ etc need to be defined, but that is a matter of legal detail.) The user is indemnified against prosecution. If the copyright holder resurfaces then they are entitled to a reasonable compensation for use of their work (again the precise legal meaning of ’reasonable compensation’ needs to be defined).

    And, although strictly speaking it is not a copyright issue, I think the Pirate Party needs to address the issue of Database Rights.

    7) Database rights. In European law there is a ”database right” – that is there are specific laws on the copying and distribution of information in computer databases over and above the copyright restrictions of the information in a database. For example there are restrictions on copying a database even if the database contains no information that is in itself copyright. Two important examples in the UK are the phone book and the postcode database.

    Database rights restrict both the commercial and non-commercial use of non-copyright material. There are no database rights in the US. Database rights should be abolished.

    Kommentar av Martin Budden — 18 januari 2010 @ 20:32

  16. …Internet-idealisten som lockar tusentals att jobba gratis = artikel i DI 2006-06-14 – som finns i länksamlingen längst ned HÄR – var ”ENORMT växande internet”-länkningen avsedd att leda till. Men internet är ju som det är = fullt av överraskningar… 🙄

    Kommentar av Josef Boberg — 18 januari 2010 @ 20:44

  17. Excellent!

    A positive vision!

    ”Should this also have the side effect of loosening up some of the grip that the big distributors have over cultural life, then so much the better for both ”artists” and ”consumers”.”

    I belive its very important to remember that one of the key changes that the Internet has brought us is that ”producers” and ”consumers” of information tends to merge; we are today all both producers and consumers of information and this vision turned into policy would support that change and enable more artistic freedom and creativity while also tending to remove certain ”middle men” acting as oligopolists and no longer really needed.

    Kommentar av Peter — 19 januari 2010 @ 8:11

  18. @Peter,

    Quite right, that’s exactly why I put ”artists” and ”consumers” within sneer quotes.

    The fact that the old dividing line between these two groups is rapidly getting more an more blurred, is one of the most exciting aspects of the new cultural world that is emerging thanks to the new technology.

    Kommentar av Christian Engström — 19 januari 2010 @ 10:04

  19. Excellent article, thank you!

    On shortening the copyright term, from presently life + 70 years to something reasonable, I would agree with Mumfi’s comment that introduces a 5-year, but three-times extendable (max 20 year) term for copyright. This is not too much, in my view, for commercial works.

    Our right to share with neighbors and friends across the world (without commercial motives) must also be guaranteed to balance the commercial protection.

    Kommentar av Sepp — 19 januari 2010 @ 10:07

  20. […] Der schwedische Europaparlamentarier der Piratenpartei, Christian Engström, der im Europaparlament zur Grünen Fraktion gehört, hat die Plattform der schwedischen Piratenpartei auf vielfachen Wunsch ins Englische übersetzt. […]

    Pingback av Plattform der Piraten in englischer Sprache | Gemeingüter — 19 januari 2010 @ 10:20

  21. @Christian Engström (#12):

    I’m not convinced. While some of the technical measures we’ve seen has been aimed at making it impossible to copy, the core of DRM is to make copying useless instead.

    I still thinks that’s hard to block the legislative way. You would be perfectly free to copy an encrypted CD, but what would be the point?

    However, I do think if legislation remains neutral, i.e. that it would not be forbidden to circumvent such measures, that goes a long way to put the consumer in the driver’s seat.

    I think that DRM is flawed thinking. You’ll never get return on the investment of developing ever so clever DRM-schemes. It’s going to be out-competed be the sheer force of freely accessible open formats. So all the legislators need to do is to stay neutral. Don’t forbid DRM but don’t enforce it either. Let the market handle this.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 19 januari 2010 @ 10:25

  22. @J.Tjäder who wrote: ”However, I do think if legislation remains neutral, i.e. that it would not be forbidden to circumvent such measures, that goes a long way to put the consumer in the driver’s seat.”

    Yes, that would be enough in most cases since DRM is flawed in cryptograpy. DRM give the attacker (the customer) not only the protected matter but also the cipher and the key or else the consumer would not be able to view or listen to what he just bought, everything needed to crack it is there for any one with knowledge. It becomes just security by obscurity, it is just a matter of time and most often just hours or days, rarely weeks or months. And once cracked the solution is not further away for ordinary people than a general search on the net. The recent legislation about circumvention is all that needs to be abolished to solve most problems with DRM, or if we turn it around, it was put in place for a reason..

    But there can still be some benefits to look at consumer rights, especially when DRM is incorporated in solid state hardware by producers with almost monopoly. Taken to its extreme, hardware implemented DRM is threatening the universal turing machine that is the definition of a computer. When a machine no longer is able to compute anything computable, it is not a turingmachine and thus no longer a computer. But it can also be a question of laws regarding competition on the market, it is only producers in oligopoly, monopoly or cartels that can survive producing flawed products.

    Kommentar av Magnus S — 19 januari 2010 @ 13:49

  23. @Johan Tjäder:
    When a DRM company goes out of business, they take all the media which uses their DRM crap with them. They take with them media *you* have *paid for*. Is this reason clear enough?

    Kommentar av next_ghost — 19 januari 2010 @ 15:40

  24. @next_ghost (#23)

    Much like those who bought SAAB cars then.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 19 januari 2010 @ 15:42

  25. These reforms are excellent ideas. As a working artist, who indeed has undergone starvation at times, it is my duty to point out that current copyright laws do not usually help us. In previous times the creation of art was limited by technologies which were usable only by large companies. Now anyone can create in a vast array of media types. In response the large companies have set up DRM and related technologies. This again enforces an artificial digital divide between artists and their communities.
    Too often artists who have signed on with large companies don’t actually get to own their copyrights. Therefore, the argument that DRM is protecting artists is spurious. The people being protected by this technology are experts at drawing the proceeds from creative works to themselves. They are not artists.

    Kommentar av Michael Riversong — 19 januari 2010 @ 16:18

  26. @Johan Tjäder (#24):
    Yes and no. While Saab cars would turn into junk sooner or later anyway, this is not true for digital media. Books, movies and music can be stored in digital format forever if you recode them into new formats every few decades (when the old formats become obsolete). But you can’t recode something that’s lock down by DRM.

    Kommentar av next_ghost — 20 januari 2010 @ 13:10

  27. Regarding copyright: Creators conference in Stockholm.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 22 januari 2010 @ 7:31

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