Letter to MEPS on Copyright Reform en

By mbb on Monday 24 September 2018 01:49 - Comments (3)
Categories: Copyright, Politics, Views: 1.036

Needing to write a lettter for the https://saveyourinternet.eu/ anyway, I'm trowing it up on my blog. I doubt it will change their minds, but perhaps ideas of it can be of use to someone some day.


While I agree that journalists provide a useful service, and can concede that they may need some protection, I do not agree that it entitles them to a share of advertisement or tech sector revenue.
Above all, newspapers make money because they were an effective medium to distribute news memes to a wide audience. The public does not exist so publishers can make money.

The problem seems to have arisen from two useful features of the internet; easy worldwide access that exposes them to international competition of larger, cheaper or more expert publishers.
And the ability of everyone to cheaply start broadcasting worldwide, creating competition by local free bloggers and meta-journalists that derive their income through other venues. Or are simply happy to be able to add their opinion to the public discussion and willing to invest their own time to do so. But breaking the internet for all should not be the solution to the problems of publishers.

As far as the publishers negotiation position to advertisement companies, perhaps there is a problem there. But then the action should be taken there, as it would benefit a lot more parties depending on advertisement revenue. Not just protecting large publishers. The EU has already tried to take action there against Google, and its GDPR could help too. But perhaps rather then taking post-fact action against one corporation, it should have created preventive explicit laws against all actions, weather by large or small advertisement companies, to create a more level playing field.

I do understand that because of pressure from industry activists, you do not have the political climate to follow electorate desires or follow societies trend towards a shorter and more flexible copyright protection.

However, I would request that during the upcoming discussions you keep the intention of copyright law in mind; to encourage the creation of new works that eventually will enter the public domain to the benefit of us all.
Republishing is the basis of European civilization; from the translating of ancient works during the renaissance, the distributing of forbidden works during the enlightenment, and the secret publishing of papers during the Second World War. (To which a lot of newspaper publishers of today can be traced back to.)

So I would ask that the EU at least puts in some incentives to have our culture become easier available to the public while it still has value. So we will be free to archive, use and remix, rather then only passively consume.

1) Create incentives in time;

Far stronger then general culture, news memes are of most value when it is fresh, and looses value over time. (In the case of stock news literally; before it is public you can make millions, after a trading stops it becomes worthless. ) While it is understandable that a paper wants to hold an article exclusive the first hours or day(s) of publication, it looses such urgency later. Having the ability to summarize, quote, comment, share, compare and review the article article (in parts or whole) should be possible while the article still has value to society, Not 70 years after death of the author.
Especially in the time of ‘fake news’ and forged science studies, free peer review should be possible without risk of the author suing for copyright.
A good example is Mr Verhofstadt’s open letter on CNN. Under the new law, while any EU citizen may want to cite parts or whole of it when commenting on it on their blogs, both publisher and author would need to be asked permission and paid royalties before allowing such public debate. And even in the rare case where such license would be given or waived, convincing the hosting party (usually a large tech site) of bypassing the upload filter, and having the original derivative content be used for filtering would be troublesome at best.

In the far past, work needed to be re-registered for copyrighted every few decades. While such a system would be problematic with today's volume of culture, it did help to track down the rights owner when wanting to re-publish.
But more importantly, it provided an incentive for the author to not renew copyright, when it was old enough that the expectation of return became too low. Today, not only is the incentive to abandon copyright no longer there, but there is not even a possibility to do so under current law.
Perhaps such an incentive can be re-introduced by exponentially increasing the taxation on royalties depending on the age of the work?

2) Prevent double legal protection.
Rather then adding more laws to restrict the distribution of culture and news among it’s citizens, the EU should be simplifying the law so only one applies at the same time.
On top of the automatic copyright protection, a lot of distributes use additional Digital Restriction Management (DRM) to limit users rights in what they deem appropriate. Unfortunately, this DRM software rarely adheres to user rights as laid out under copyright law. Thereby creating user problems from simple citation up to blocking the blind from using their translation software from accessing our culture.
To add a third barrier, breaking this DRM is itself forbidden by another law, making EU citizens unable to exercise our rights under copyright law.
Therefor it would urge you to put a restriction in copyright law that it only applies to such works where user rights are respected. Thereby still allowing publishers the choice if they want copyright law or DRM protection, but no longer both. Different publishers may even choose to publish the same work under the different laws, allowing even users the choice if they accept copyright or DRM restrictions.

3) Punishment for over-blocking.
To prevent excessive over-blocking in the filters, the punishment for falsely requesting take-downs should at least be equal to the uploading of in frighting content, including legal and administrative fees. Following the publishers logic; even if culture is shared for free, it does not mean it is without value. Providing this link may also encourage them to occasional keep in frighting fees down.
Perhaps wrongful infringement allegations should be punished even more, as the producers of works have created far less themselves that then were created by others. And there are far fewer exceptions for claiming take-down of content that is not yours, then there are exceptions for posting such works. Not to mention that unlike the sharing, it is often done by experts in their field.

Response to Guy Verhofstadt on Europe en

By mbb on Wednesday 12 September 2018 01:34 - Comments (14)
Category: Politics, Views: 2.178

On Geenstijl, I came across a vicious cut-down of mr Verhofstadt's CNN opinion piece "Trumpesque alt-right nationalism must be defeated in Europe".

While I consider myself far more centered and far more pro-Europe than GeenStijl (and possibly the average European), I still found his opinion piece deeply disturbing.

I appreciate how the open borders cut down hours of trans-Europe trips. I understand how not having to exchange coins benefits the economy. And I know a lot of environmental issues do not stop at borders, so it makes sense to have a place to discuss that regularly.
However, the EU is not perfect, and I feel that there is plenty to improve before we take a next step, if we want to take some at all.
I recently saw an opinion on Europe that stated it in a way which I can agree with:
"Not every problem with the EU should automatically be solved with 'More EU control".

Mr Verhofstadt's opinion reads to me like "Europe is the solution for everything, and the problem is voters who do not understand that.

Perhaps it is not surprising to see Europe to be lead by a proponent of a strong Europe - a nationalist candidate may be unlikely to propose European solutions. And it fits in the trend or our Prime Minister Rutte's discussion about the future of Europe
However, in his position and policy he is to represent all of us; those yet to be convinced, the pragmatists, the (different) idealists and the nationalists. Not just a pro-European splinter group of the population.
With the backing of alt-right leader Steve Bannon and the blessing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the far right's plan is to spread the populism that delivered Brexit and Trump to provoke an implosion of the European project and an erosion of the democratic institutions the US has helped to develop since the Second World War.
In the absence of traditional support from the US administration, it rests with pro-Europeans and defenders of liberal democracy in Europe to challenge head-on the myths and disinformation perpetuated by populists.
For too long, in both the US and Europe, populists have gotten away with selling a retreat to isolationism and protectionism, wrapped up in a rose-tinted notion of absolute national sovereignty, as a solution to voter's problems. Progressive voices must now challenge these assumptions and once again make the case for internationalism.
Nationalists worship at the altar of the nation state, but in 2018 it's obvious that no European country can tackle climate change, people trafficking or drug smuggling on its own.
Pooling some sovereignty to better shape the world around us does not mean giving away control -- it is a means to leverage power and take back control in a world increasingly dominated by social media companies and tech giants.
If the US or Europe does not shape the rules of international trade, China will. If we do not act to define limits on artificial intelligence, we leave that power to companies like Amazon or Google.
First, 'Internationalism' in the context of 'free trade' and 'free labor exchange' have always been part of the (liberal) right. Not of the left, for which it was mostly social development and international aid.

Second; The 'Populist Right" have mostly become vulnerable to international pressure because their concerns have been ignored by an ever more liberal and internationalist politics.
Proving that the EU can and will adres and solve their concerns is the only way to win back their trust and support.
Perhaps a 'populist right' Pro-European party may pose an alternative. Yet for some reason our diverse system has failed to produce one so far.
Reducing their voting power, funding and pushing ever more internationalism will only drive them away from the democratic process.
On the other hand; reducing cost, a better democratic process and more transparency should help ALL parties.

Proposals for more internationalism will NOT win their vote

And finally, if we want to be a strong Europe; stop being so dependent on the USA! Their influence on our politics is as undesirable as those of China, Russia or large companies. Perhaps more, as being our main allies and trade partner, 'soft' pressure can have an even bigger influence on us.
So stop our bending to their courts by letting them pressure their companies to get our data, stop letting them pressure us with their financial system (like the International Court of Justice. Stop bending our copyrights to fit their media companies. Etc.
...Likewise, with migration, no single European country can deliver a fair and humane system that would work in practice. Far-right European populists like Salvini and Orbán have successfully exploited people's fears about migration by turning Europe's refugee crisis of 2015 into a political crisis.
Yet in many instances, in both the US and Europe, fears over migration are based on perceptions of the number of immigrants in our societies, rather than the actual numbers: a feeling, as opposed to reality.
Migration is central to the human story, but progressive politicians must also offer real solutions to people's concerns. In Europe, liberals and democrats must show it is possible to build a collective, humane asylum and migration system founded on a respect for our international obligations. This must come hand in hand with a more responsible and coherent foreign policy.
Migration may be a human story, but strong borders is an explicit agreement of the open market experiment, and goes beyond just refugees. It applies to security of people (We even send flight information of our own European citizens to the USA, so we should also be sure who enters the EU). And to the quality control of goods that we import. Secret trade agreements with countries that do not have our high standards of food quality or do not respect employee safety are a form of unfair competition.

As for the refugees crisis, Europe was NOT prepared to protect it's borders, nor able to live up to it's internal agreements to house them. Nor were solutions and agreements between countries - or even within countries easily reached. So pretending that it was NOT a political crisis, or blaming it only on those that did not agree with your 'solution' is discouraging and unhelpful.

And if no single country (with it's many different experiments for aid) can find the solution, it is unclear why Europe as a whole should be capable of this, as the total sum of resources is equal. Not to mention the differences between countries in capabilities, living standards and views of acceptable aid can widely differ between countries.

Trying to temporally house a 100.000 neighboring Syrians fleeing from a war we helped finance can be considered a noble endeavor, difficult as it may be.
But it is hard to believe how a cumulative yearly influx of up to 1 million africans can be sustainable to any place. Let alone a decreasing European population with an ever more automated workforce that wants to lead a sustainable lifestyle.
Just as Europeans failed to adequately respond to the global financial crisis, the West's failure to stop Putin and Assad's bloodshed in Syria and the collapse of Libya are all drivers of Europe's migration challenges, now used by the far right to undermine liberal democratic parties.
A credible and serious European foreign policy, backed up with a joint European defense capability, could change this dynamic.
Again, examples of where the EU failed. And thus, the EU does not deserve more power until it proves itself to be more capable to handle such power.
Especially the financial crisis deserves punishment rather then reward. They denied, they lied and they cried.
Greece cost enough money that we could easily have saved Ireland, Malta, Spain and Italy without going into full crisis.
They brought Greece into the Euro Zone without fulfilling the requirements. Which may have been 'the right thing' for social, political and most of all military reasons. But they should have been honest about it. Then they failed to keep control on Greeces finances, letting it balloon till it became an unsustainable risk.
And then they lied that they would not send money, they lied why they send money (to save western pension investments) and they lied that the money would come back. (except interest).
Again, I find it hard to believe that we had not tried to save Greece had it not been part of the EU, but the political process surrounding it was an outright failure, and should have had several (former) politicians send to prison for failing oversight.
American friends of Europe should be bold in pressing for EU reform.
Again with the treasonous dependency on the USA. Their president is practically a puppet of Putin, why should we take our orders from them?
Their democracy is a farce, their judicial system a joke, they spy on their closest allies and their own population.
I believe Europe can, should and deserves better then that.

[quoteTo prevent a victory for Steve Bannon and his ragbag of right-wing populists in next year's elections, it falls to pro-Europeans to offer a vision of hope and renewal: a promise to deliver enhanced rights and freedoms for all the citizens of Europe.
Such a program would stand in stark contrast to the dystopian offer of "unfreedom" promised by the far right.[/quote]
This is as much, if not more, fearmongering as the populist right is known to do. Steve Bannon is not avaible for election in the EU. The UK is unlikely to abandon democracy after leaving the EU. They will they become completely isolationist, but remain our ally and trading partner. And it is an outright insult to the human and civil rights of each and every member country that forms the EU, whose rights and believes are the basis of EU law to begin with.

Disclaimer; I politically align myself to the small Piracy Party, active in multiple European countries.

PS: This is my first blog, and partly a way to get familiar with the blog features of Tweakers. Hopefully I'll follow it up with a more relevant blog.
It is also a writing exercise; public writing never came naturally to me, so pointers are welcome.

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