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Pirate Party MEP publishes copyright review in European Parliament

By | Published on Wednesday 21 January 2015

The Pirate Party

A Pirate Party MEP from Germany has published a draft report looking at some key copyright topics across the European Union with a view to influencing the next raft of EU copyright proposals, expected to come from the European Commissioner For Digital Economy And Society early next year.

Julia Reda MEP’s report specifically considers how a 2001 European copyright directive was implemented in different EU states, and concludes that there remains too much variation in copyright rules across the Union, which is counter-productive in the age of cross-border digital content consumption.

Launching her report earlier this week, Reda said: “The EU copyright directive was written in 2001, in a time before YouTube or Facebook. Although it was meant to adapt copyright to the digital age, in reality it is blocking the exchange of knowledge and culture across borders today. We need a common European copyright that safeguards fundamental rights and makes it easier to offer innovative online services in the entire European Union”.

Given the Pirate Party’s origins, many in the intellectual property industries will be suspicious of it members’ motives in attempting to lead the copyright debate in Brussels, though, the MEP revealed, that didn’t stop a long line of content companies, collecting societies and related organisations openly lobbying her once she began work on this paper.

And the report is careful to begin by acknowledging “the necessity for authors and performers to be provided legal protection for their creative and artistic work” and says that it “recognises the role of producers and publishers in bringing works to the market, and the need for appropriate remuneration for all categories of rights holders”.

There is general agreement on both sides of the debate that cross-border copyright licensing should be simpler, though plenty of Reda’s proposals will cause concern in the music rights sector, and one of the most controversial – the launch of copyright registration in the EU – isn’t even in this first draft.

However, while some associated with the Pirate Party movement are seen as being fundamentally anti-copyright, that’s not the remit of Reda’s report, which does propose some sensible measures that some in the music community might quietly commend. And especially in the artist and songwriter community, whose interests Reda reckons she is championing where they are not in line with the corporate rights owners or big collecting societies.

Welcoming the report and the fact a Pirate Party rep drafted it, one of the political group’s candidates in this year’s UK General Election, Mark Chapman, told reporters: “Julia’s report highlights the glaring need for the thorough overhaul of copyright law that Pirate Parties from across Europe have consistently been calling for. These need to take into account the underlying principles of a free exchange of knowledge and culture with the principle of a single common digital market.”

He went on: “It is really positive that it is a Pirate MEP that has been able to bring forward her specialist knowledge and experience in this area, as well as digitally crowd-sourcing views from across Europe. We look forward to working with other politicians – both Pirate Parties from across Europe and those from other backgrounds – to bring the recommendations in this report into reality”.

The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament will discuss Reda’s report in April, while a working group in the legislature will take input from stakeholders on copyright matters until the summer. The Digital Economy And Society Commissioner Günther Oettinger will then begin work on a new set of copyright proposals in the autumn.

You can read Reda’s report here.