Copyright Reform or ACTA?By: Chris Richardson - February 4, 2012
Which method is best for combating piracy and other forms of Internet related intellectual property infringement? If you were to listen the average European Union citizen, the reaction towards ACTA has been understandably negative. However, various governments of the European Union have been just as adamant in their support.
While the case of Kader Arif stands out — Arif resigned his position in order to offer his protestations against ACTA — but, by and large, most European Union members, or, at least the governments were on board with the controversial legislation. Now, however, there appears to be some push back. First, we have news of Poland suspending the bill until further discussions concerning ACTA takes place.
The anti-ACTA sentiment that spilled out of Poland deserves credit here, undoubtedly. Now we have word of a prominent European Parliament member speaking out not just against ACTA, but the copyright industry as a whole. Using TorrentFreak as a platform, Marietje Schaake, who is a member of the European Parliament, recently discussed the issue of copyright in relation to ACTA, and from Schaake’s point of view, the issue of piracy would be much better addressed with copyright reform, as opposed to sweeping laws/treaties like ACTA and SOPA.
In her own words. Any emphasis added is ours:
Regrettably, concerns by businesses, NGO’s and politicians have not led to a better result. This is partly due to the intransparant way in which ACTA has been established and negotiated. As a democratically elected representative, I believe it is not the role of government to protect outdated business models, and I do believe it is our job to ensure democratic oversight.
Yet there is a big push towards enforcing outdated legal structures of copyright by the entertainment industry. ACTA will lock any signatory country into a system of copyright enforcement, leaving the democratic process disadvantaged to enact necessary reform of our laws to suit the digital age… Copyright and E-Commerce need to suit the needs of the advanced information society we now live in. To enable a flourishing Digital Single Market in Europe, we need to analyse case-law of the last 12 years regarding the internet, hear from creators, innovators and consumers. If we want to serve consumers, artists and businesses well, we need to find a new balance in copyright. Every aspect of copyright needs to be discussed: the exclusive rights, limitations and exceptions, collective management, enforcement, etc. Only then should we discuss how to enforce the new found balance on the international arena, such as with ACTA.
As an aside, if Schaake ever decided to run for office in the United States, she’d be a fantastic alternative to the Lamar Smiths of the world. She addresses copyright with an intelligent approach, as opposed to the “we must protect our money for as long as time lasts” approach of the RIAA, MPAA, et al, an approach that, thanks to incessant lobbying, is prevalent in the houses of government in the United States.
Because it’s unlikely Schaake would “play ball” with these copyright-protecting entities, her electable in the United States is in doubt. Furthermore, considering the backlash from institutions like the MPAA concerning the anti-SOPA movement that swept the Internet a few weeks ago, the “reform copyright” fight is a long, long way from happening. At least in the United States.