Saturday, 18 April 2009


The Open Rights Group (ORG) alerted me to the news that recent intensive lobbying pressure has resulted in the hastily arranged tabling of the copyright extension proposal, which seems likely to go ahead next Thursday. I have posted on this issue elsewhere on this blog but I believe the video below explains the problems of the proposed changes better than I could do the issue justice:

Becky Hogge: Speech at Sound Copyright conference in the EU Parliament 27.01.09 from Open Rights Group on Vimeo.

The proposed extension seems better suited to supporting corporate cartels than protecting artists. It also acts as a blanket cover preventing material no longer profitable from entering the public domain, from which other creative works can be derived. The industry is looking to score another result fresh on the back of the Pirate Bay verdict, but this represents a very different issues with wide-ranging consequences for the public domain and the future of digital creativity.

say no to copyright extension

The basis of reanimating this extension is highly dubious. ORG are advocating that concerned citizens should act now to reject the proposed act. Visit the Sound Copyright site to find out what you can do to fight the industry lobbyists. Write to your MEP now - this page will give you some useful advice on how to lobby your MEP with a briefing pack full of relevant info. It is easy to do - people in the UK can use the WriteToThem service to get involved. It finds the name of you MEP for you and even gives you a page to contact them from.

This is what I wrote in my letter to the MEPs in question:
Dear Fiona Hall, Stephen Hughes and Martin Callanan,

The European Commission has recently proposed to extend the term of copyright in sound recordings in a move "aimed at performers". I believe this does not address the problem it claims to, while imposing serious costs on consumers, follow-on innovators and re-users of information. I also believe it endangers the basis of public respect and acceptance of intellectual property. There has been a constant cycle of copyright extension terms in recent decades, all of which protects businesses at the expense of creative re-use of material which should have entered the public domain long ago.

If Europe wishes to keep its ability to innovate, it must not lock in the current industry structure at a moment of great technological change, it must not inhibit digital creators and archives in the exploration of music - music which has been paid for once already, during the existing term. There must be a public domain from which innovation can be propagated. Excessive copyright restrictions benefit a minority of key industry players and harm the majority of the public by denying the public access to material no longer commercially viable.

If copyright law, cynically, departs from its purpose, piracy becomes an easy and attractive option.

I urge the European Parliament, and the governments of member states of the European Union, to consider carefully the independent evidence on copyright term extension, and reject the Directive in its proposed form.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Jewitt
Feel free to repurpose/remix the content in any way you see fit. A wholesale cut/paste job will be rejected by the WriteToThem site though. Get behind the academics who have already pointed out the problems with this bill.

Your voice counts.

Watch how Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig shows the impact that inappropriate laws can have on creativity below:


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