Reforma copyrightului în UE

Săptămâna asta mi-am alocat cele două ore de implicare civică pentru a citi un pic despre reforma copyrightului în Uniunea Europeană. Comisia Europeană ține, până pe 5 februarie, o consultație publică pentru a revizui legea copyrightului.

În cele din urmă, le-am trimis și eu răspunsuri la două întrebări (20 și 77). Puteți face și voi asta și puteți răspunde în oricare dintre limbile oficiale ale UE, inclusiv în limba română. Procedeul pentru a răspunde este comunist complicat: trebuie completat un fișier OpenOffice sau Word, care apoi trebuie trimis prin e-mail. Din fericire,  există site-uri care oferă o interfață prietenoasă pentru a genera respectivul fișier: copywrongs.euyoucan.fixcopyright.eu.

Iată cele două răspunsuri ale mele.

77. Does the current civil enforcement framework ensure that the right balance is achieved between the right to have one’s copyright respected and other rights such as the protection of private life and protection of personal data?

No, the balance is shifted enormously in favor of the copyright holders and against individual freedoms. When speaking of „copyright holders”, please remember that most authors cede their rights to publishers, big trusts with huge lobbying powers. Authors only get a small portion of the benefit that copyright laws provide.

20. Are the current terms of copyright protection still appropriate in the digital environment?

First of all, please refrain from using the propaganda expression „copyright protection”. Copyright does not „protect” a work of art; it burdens it. The verb „to protect” means „to keep safe from harm”. The best way to keep safe a work of art is to make as many copies of it as possible. Copying a work of art does not harm it; on the contrary, it increases its popularity and reduces the chances of it being lost or destroyed. Restricting copying is what truly harms a work of art. If you want to be accurate, you could refer to „author protection”, which in today’s world mostly means „publisher protection”.

To derive a proper duration of copyright, we must remember what laws are for in the first place. They take some freedoms away from individuals so that society as a whole can benefit. That is why we levy taxes, forbid theft and give huge salaries to a few professions of critical importance. But we must always require the best possible bargain in exchange for the freedoms we trade away.

Copyright was initially a great bargain. In the 18th century, almost nobody owned a printing press. Copyright laws took away a freedom that most people couldn’t exercise anyway: the freedom to copy a book. So society traded away an unimportant freedom for a huge benefit: the dissemination of culture and knowledge. But in the 21st century, we all own a printing press, and it’s called a computer. Copying has become an activity that we all can perform easily. Copyright is no longer a good bargain. It takes an important freedom away and gives little back. Copyright has become a hindrance to the dissemination of culture and knowledge.

The authors’ interests with respect to the duration of copyrights are important, but they are always secondary to society’s interests. Copyright laws are just an incentive to convince more people to publish works of art. The ultimate goal is not the authors’ welfare in itself. In addition, authors today are seldom the copyright holders. Most of them cede their rights to publishing trusts, so they stand to gain little from excessive copyright terms.

I am not proposing we abolish copyright altogether. I am proposing we reevaluate its duration for various kinds of works of art. 20 years should be plenty for most cases. In the mean time, any conventions, laws or treaties that increase or extend copyright powers are steps in the wrong direction.