November 11, 2003

Commentary on the EU IP Directive [6:24 pm]

From the BBC: A continent full of criminals. The larger question is whether the EU process will be more responsive to this sort of complaint than the US Congress was when the DMCA was up for consideration. Note also that Bill Thompson is possibly a little conflicted about this topic.

As a writer I rely on copyright law to ensure that I get paid for the things I publish, and I do not want to see copyright disappear because of the ease of online file copying.

But any new law should attempt to balance the interests of rights holders, whether they are large multinational corporations or individuals, and those of the wider community.

We should never forget that copyright and patents are a bargain, a deal between the people and the creators of anything from a story to a song to a great film, and the bargain needs to work for both sides.

It is probably not a coincidence that Janelly Fourtou, the MEP who is pushing the current draft directive forward, is married to Jean-Rene Fourtou, the Chairman of Vivendi, one of the world’s largest media corporations.

All of the proposals she has made, especially the suggestion that even non-commercial file sharing over P2P networks should be a criminal act, favour large corporations like the one her husband works for.

[...] I don’t want to go to jail just because I share a few songs online in the way that I’ve shared cassette tapes and videos for years, and I don’t see why copyrights in music, movies or software should be enforced with criminal sanctions when my rights to make reasonable and fair use of the same material are taken away from me.

If I was sitting in a warehouse in Bristol making thousands of copies of the new Sophie Ellis-Bextor album, then I’d hold my hands up when the police came knocking at the door, but making a copy so my daughter can listen to it on her own CD player doesn’t seem like breaking the law to me.

Or, I suspect, to many other people outside the record industry.

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