Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom and founder Rick Falkvinge have released The Case for Copyright Reform a 107-page eBook outlining the party’s vision for reconciling copyright protection with the reality of widespread digital sharing.
The International Pirate Party, first started in Sweden in 2006, won its first seat in the European parliament in 2009, and more recently won 15 seats in Germany’s Berlin state elections. This new proposal represents the burgeoning group’s clearest, most detailed statement yet on how the party plans to act on its signature issue.
While the proposal argues that the explosive growth of file sharing can’t be stopped without monitoring private communication and “infringing on fundamental human rights,” the authors clarify that they don’t want to simply abolish copyright altogether. Though digital rights management systems would be banned under the under the Pirate Party plan, copyright would continue to prevent people from legally profiting from the works of others. Non-commercial copying and use would be made completely legal, though, returning to what Ekstrom and Falvinge argue is the original meaning of copyright, where people could copy a poem or dub a cassette and send it to a friend without fear of punishment.
To help make the bounds for sharing clearer, the authors suggest setting explicit guidelines for legal audio and visual sampling, akin to the kinds of established legal quotation rights for text. The length of copyright protection would be severely curtailed as well, from an “absurd” period of life plus 70 years to a mere 20 years from the time of publication. These copyrights would need to be renewed five years after publication, too, to allow orphaned works quick entry back into the public domain.
The book goes into great detail on how current copyright laws are stifling technological and creative progress, as well as the freedom of private communication and due process. It also lays out evidence from Norway and Sweden to show that artists can still make money in a world where their works can be copied freely, by shifting to other revenue sources. Perhaps the detailed argument will help change the minds of some of those German intellectuals that have been reportedly turning against the party recently.
The Case for Copyright Reform
Legalized file sharing, shorter protection times for the commercial copyright monopoly, free sampling and a ban on DRM.
These are the main points of the proposal for copyright reform that the Pirate Party is advocating and which the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament adopted as its group position in September 2011.
This is a constructive alternative to the controversial ACTA agreement and to the criminalization of the entire generation of youths. This booklet explains why such a reform is both necessary and sustainable and will benefit both citizens and artists.
Download the book