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Songs on the Security of Networks
a blog by Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Copyreform at CopyCamp 2013

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

When a copyright reformist NGO organizes a conference together with (among others) one of the biggest collection societies in Poland, Google, and the Warsaw Hackerspace, you know stuff is going to happen. Especially when Eben Moglen is the keynote speaker, with Jérémie Zimmermann and many of the Polish “opennists” of anti-ACTA fame following closely.

And had you been there you would not have been disappointed!

You’d see a Google rep talking about open innovation and complaining about how Amazon complicates life for Kindle users, and how it’s all fault of the European Union – just minutes after Eben posed a question about how the 20th century could have worked out if “books reported who reads them to the central authority”.

You’d see a copyright maximalisation lobbyist from a collection society trying to teach Eben about the free software movement and libre licensing of culture (the highlights: free software is an anti-copyright movement; Creative Commons licenses have been created by the users to force authors to give up their rights and their works).

You’d see talks about the history of copyright, the Internet master switch, the complicated relationship between copyright and privacy and many, many more (including mine, on how the Internet is not a problem).

One thing you would not have expected, however, is that the most important talk would be given by a politician. And that it would be…

…The Talk EU waited for 1.5 years

After the anti-ACTA protests and 4th of July, 2012 vote to reject the treaty, it was obvious that the time for copyright reform has come. People have spoken, and politicians have heard them – or so it seemed, at least.

It also seemed obvious that just as anti-ACTA protests have started in Poland, and just as the political will to reject it by the EU have started to form first in Poland, such copyright reform initiative should come from Poland. And so, everybody waited for any Polish politician to pick that topic up and run with it.

The wait was long, but apparently it is finally over: Paweł Zalewski, a Polish MEP, announced at CopyCamp that he shall propose a pan-European copyright reform initiative (yes, the quality is ghastly), with four major points:

  • shortening the copyright term to 50 years after the death of the original author (the minimum that is allowed by the TRIPS treaty);
  • introducing so-called open norm for fair use in EU;
  • legalizing non-commercial remix;
  • removing criminal sanctions for infringement, legalizing non-commercial sharing of culture.

I had the opportunity to provide an opinion on Mr Zalewski’s ideas on behalf of the FOSSF (along with a few other pro-copyright-reform NGOs in Poland), and am quite happy with it: it’s actually close to my copyright reform wishlist for what can be achieved within the terms of binding international treaties (like TRIPS or the Berne Convention).

Mr. Zalewski is now working out the exact shape and form of his proposal; it is to be presented in Brussels in November (and will almost certainly include proposed changes to InfoSoc directive). So we may now hope that there finally is a politician that intends on pursuing this topic.