If you criticize current copyright law, you are easily labeled as an ‘enemy of the state’, noticed Jaroslaw Lipszyc (president Modern Poland Foundation) when a fierce Acta-debate broke loose in Poland.
Acta is a controversial multinational anti-counterfeiting treaty that the European Parliament voted down in July 2012. The treaty is supposed to target counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the internet. Opponents say that the potential threats to civil liberties and innovations are much greater than the intended benefits.
A hearing was organized in the European Parliament on November 12 by MEPs Amelia Andersdotter (Greens), Marietje Schaake (ALDE), en Pavel Zalewski (EPP). According to one of the speakers it is hopeful that three political groups now rally around the issue. The broad agreement: the current copyright does not match the new reality.
False claims of Patent Office
One of the speakers, Paul Keller, pointed at the inability of Brussels to come up with a clear direction for copyright modernization. He criticized the recent report of the European Patent Office on the value of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), stating that it is simply untrue to claim that IPR-intensive industries account for 26% of all employment and 39% of GDP.
Keller: “What mainly irritates me is that the Patent Office simplifies matters, it advances the idea of IPR without looking at the domains of education, research and cultural heritage. We need to move away from framing it as a discussion on IPR. All policy objectives need to be rebalanced. We need to stop issuing reports that underline the importance of IPR.”
One lawyer’s Satisfaction
Wilfried Rütten (Director, European Journalism Centre) continued by saying that lawyers have occupied too much space in the copyright debate and that this makes the discussion very difficult. “The rights of Rolling Stones’ ‘Satisfaction’ belongs to a lawyer in Chicago, who pays the schooling of his daughters from it. It is venture capitalists that invest in the area, it’s not at all what’s best for the artists. Blind people cannot access what they want because there’s a copyright regime on braille. If you look at cultural heritage it is obvious, how can we not allow teachers to use this stuff?”
Organizer Marietje Schaake concluded that the gap between legal reality of legal framework and reality is widening every day. “We are waiting to implement this reform.”
On November 13 the Commission will present a proposal on the future direction of European copyright.
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