Neelie on Copyright

“Look at the situation of those trying to digitise cultural works. Europeana, the online portal of libraries, museums and archives in Europe, is one key example. What a digital wonder this is: a single access point for cultural treasures that would otherwise be difficult to access, hidden or even forgotten.

Today our fragmented copyright system is ill-adapted to the real essence of art, which has no frontiers. Instead, that system has ended up giving a more prominent role to intermediaries than to artists. It irritates the public who often cannot access what artists want to offer and leaves a vacuum which is served by illegal content, depriving the artists of their well deserved remuneration. And copyright enforcement is often entangled in sensitive questions about privacy, data protection or even net neutrality.

It may suit some vested interests to avoid a debate, or to frame the debate on copyright in moralistic terms that merely demonise millions of citizens. But that is not a sustainable approach. We need this debate because we need action to promote a legal digital Single Market in Europe.

My position is that we must look beyond national and corporatist self-interest to establish a new approach to copyright. We want “une Europe des cultures” and for this we need a debate at European level. The Commission will soon make legislative proposals on orphan works and on the transparency and governance of the collective management societies. We will examine again the problem of divergent national private copy levies. We will also look into multi-territorial and pan-European licensing. And we will not stop exploring ideas for as long as the system is not working. Instead of a dysfunctional system based on a series of cultural Berlin walls, I want a return to sense. A system where there is scope to create new opportunities for artists and creators, and new business models that better fit the digital age. We want to help you seize the opportunities of this age.

see her speech at Avignon, 2010-11-5

Amen. My thinking lately is that the basic concept of copyright is flawed in the digital age. In the days of the first printing presses, the idea was that the creator of a work should have a head-start on the world for copying. That made sense. Allowing decades of head-start in the digital age does not. Perhaps copyright should have a quota on copies. After the first million or so copyright should expire. That could be a complication for FLOSS which uses copyright as a protection against software being made non-free but something has to be done. Copyright is not intended to be a barrier to copying but a reward to creators. When big business gets involved and creators assign big business the rights the creator has been rewarded but the copyright protection continues.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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