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Thursday, 5 July 2018

EU Copyright Law: Vote today

It's me again, banging on about copyright for the umpteenth time! Sorry to be back on this hobbyhorse, but it is a topic that is dear to my heart.

Today the European Parliament voted to reject the introduction of articles 11 and 13 of the European Copyright Law that would have put the onus for enforcing online copyright onto the platforms and hosts that people are currently uploading copyrighted material to.

The new law was – according to the media – 'controversial'. Those who did not want to see it introduced argued that it would stifle creativity and was the first step on the road to censorship of the Internet. This view was supported by people such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee – the inventor of the World Wide Web – and the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.

Their opponents – many of whom were from the music industry – argued that those people who are creating material (and are copyright holders of that material) are having their intellectual property 'stolen' and exploited by others who do not pay any royalties or who have not paid for a licence to copy that material.

Some of the arguments against the introduction of this law that I have read and heard have been ludicrous. Examples have included 'it will mean the end of Internet memes', 'it will make music sampling expensive for up-and-coming artists', and 'big business will charge people for downloading material they are used to getting for free'! No mention was made of the loss of income for the very numerous small producers of material – such as myself – that is the consequence of the current level of unrestricted downloading.

I don't want to see the Internet ruthlessly censored, but I don't want the current situation to continue. I want the platforms and hosts to enforce the copyright law, and not to use the current loopholes that allow them to blame the users who have broken the law by making stolen/illegally copied files available as downloads.

This vote does not mean that the legislation will not eventually become law; it has merely given the European parliament more time to consider the two controversial Articles, which will be discussed again in September.

The vote was as follows:
  • Against: 318
  • For: 278
  • Abstained: 31

12 comments:

  1. Bob, was there any discussion in the legislation about how platforms/hosts would actually police and enforce copyright compliance? Seems policing/enforcement would be a big mountain to scale.

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    1. Jonathan Freitag,

      I doubt if the level of discussion include such detail as the debate was not very long. The EU will leave it to the relevant bureaucrats to sort out the detail ... probably with the 'assistance' of the major players (including the main platforms/hosts). I gather that it will be 'enforced' by algorithms. Who will oversee them has yet to be defined, but it may well be an EU Infornstion Commissioner.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. The fact is that people think that they should have to right to use other people's work for free. It has nothing to do with censorship - it's about ownership.

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    1. Rob Young,

      I agree. I think that some people work on the assumption that '(Interlectual) property is theft' and that it follows that by getting somebody else's work for free, they are re-distributing 'intellectual wealth'. At least that is how they seem to justify what is nothing other than theft.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Bob,
    35 years ago I had my Designs & Ideas stolen from me- I wasn't fully alert to the theft until some 10 years later...now, to take the USA Corporation to Court in a Litigation Case....I've been informed that I'd need to come up with 3 Million Dollars and even that would not be enough along with the services of two Barristers...etc, etc, etc....I've also been advised that my Health and well being would not survive such a lengthy and complicated Case....My Artwork which I did the bulk of 41 years ago in 1977 wasn't Copyrighted by me - alas. I've got nothing out of it at all- except worry and heartache. So, my advice to anyone considering risking their ideas to an open forum such as the Internet or similar is to 'Copyright' your work first- before Publishing. Regards. KEV.

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    1. Kev, another sad tale but one I would be interested in knowing more about regarding your situation so many decades ago.

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    2. Jonathan- I will not detail exactly what is in contention...I'm trying to think of something with similar weight- enough to say I do have days where the whole affair grips me and I am staggered by the fact of just how dishonest people can be- denying what you know to be absolutely real and true. Anyway- thanks for your concerns. Regards. KEV.

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    3. Kev Robertson,

      I had no idea that you had suffered far more than I had from breach of copyright. It has happened to me before - twice - and in the first case it was an American who 'stole' a set of wargames that I had written, converted all the metric measurements into imperial, and then published them under his own name. I did not find out for quite some time, and when I sought advice, I was also told that it would be expensive and very, very time-consuming to get any form of restitution. In the end I took no action.

      In the second case I developed a whole two-year-long self-supported study course in IT. I was under contract at the time, but I had insisted that my contract included a clause to the effect that I retained all intellectual property rights on any course materials I produced. A senior member of staff tried to copy and give the whole course to another school where he hoped to get a better job, but I found out. In the following confrontation I walked out of the job and he eventually got the sack for improper conduct.

      Good luck, but don't let the worry and stress dominate your life. I came close to that, but when I walked out of the contract and away from that particular job, it turned out to be one of the best decisions I had ever made.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. Jonathan Freitag,

      Thanks for your words of support for Kev Robertson.

      It is difficult to explain to someone how devastating the theft of your work can be. It is not just the loss of income that gets to you; it is the sum of the time, effort, and that part of yourself that you have invested in the work that has been stolen, and it can make one feel intellectually violated.

      I hope that explains what it feels like.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    5. Kev Robertson,

      Having had long experience of trying to get young people to accept that they have done wrong, and that denying it is just not going to make the problem go away, I have leaned that for some people denial is a first reaction when they are confronted with the truth ... and that once they are in denial, their 'memory' of events changes to suit their version of what has happened. They will persist in this even in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

      I sympathise with your plight, knowing that the sense of gross injustice is not an easy one to set aside.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. I saw that news article on the BBC this morning and my first thought was "well that was a missed opportunity". Hopefully though it can be redrafted to keep more people happy (i.e. include safeguards for things like 'fair use' for instance which would keep Meme makers and Wikipedia happy) and eventually get passed. And all hopefully before Brexit is completed so the legislation applies to us as well!

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    1. Lee Hadley,

      You've pretty well summed up my opinion as well. Luckily there will be a further debate in Sepember, and I'm certain that changes will be made that will make the legislation more 'acceptable'.

      All the best,

      Bob

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