Cory Doctorow: Europe’s Copyright Wars – Do We Have to Repeat the American Mistake? (Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin)

My live notes of Cory’s talk. Might be a bit messy because I have trouble wrapping my head around some of these issues, and Cory does indeed talk rather fast. Plus, as you probably know by now, I’m in a frightening state of exhaustion.

Europe and America: harmonization escalation.

Web 2.0 Expo Berlin 26

It’s easy to laugh at US copyright policies from Europe.

Inducing infringing of media copyright: should be held liable. If your technology might be used to infringe copyright… arghl… you’ll be held liable.

So if you develop your technology with the idea of infringing copyright, you will be held liable (thought crime!) for any subsequent copyright infringement.

With this kind of stuff, the VCR would never have seen the light, because one of the main ideas behind it was “time-shifting” and “librarying” (watch something later, or collect your favorite shows). The court ruled that time-shifting was legal, but never ruled on librarying.

FCC.

Guy who gave a talk explaining how Adobe’s DRM was evil, arrested at the end of the talk by the FBI for talking about the wrong type of maths.

DMCA takedown notice. No need for proof. Routinely abused to silence critics, etc.

Viacom abuse, searching YouTube for keywords, thousands of DMCA takedown notices, for things as innocuous as people talking at a part who happened to have the names of their characters, etc.

Viacom says that by allowing private videos, Google and YouTube are inducing infringement.

Lawsuits against music fans in the USA. Suing fans does not convince them to go back to the record store! Hard to believe that the record companies’ best response to file-sharing is suing enough college students hoping the rest get the message.

Europe is by no means inculpable. DMCA started as a proposal shown to Al Gore who said it was bad, then presented to Europe where it got positive response and became the EUCD and back to the US as DMCA. steph-note: maybe the difference in perception, if the laws are similar, has to do with the suing culture?

IPRD 2 : probably the worst. Copyright infringement, historically, has to be dealt with in court. This criminalizes copyright infringement. And turns over dealing with it to the public police. steph-note: I’m afraid I don’t understand all this, a bit over my head.

e.g. Sweden, whole server farm taken down by the police (servers in police van), including legitimate sites of legitimate business, just disappeared into the van.

The sophisticated “cyber criminals”, this kind of thing doesn’t stop them. It just can be the end of it, however, for innocent people who aren’t very tech-savvy. Police cordoning off area for 6 months, 70% of businesses hosted there failed within those six months.

DVD CPCM: Europe-wide thing, all devices reading DVDs required to be compliant. CPCM can individually shut down certain classes of users, based on content producers’ decisions, even if you have the legal right e.g. to show something in school, you wouldn’t be allowed to break the CPCM.

Disturbing CPCM flags: DVD flagged so it can only be used by one household. (What is and what is not a household? huge problem. They have a very “conservative” concept of what a household is, which doesn’t include children and parents scattered through continents, old dads entering retiring homes, kids with divorced parents…)

Restricted playback systems. Goodbye interoperability. We didn’t need permission from Vauxhall to plug in your Nokia phone, or permission from Microsoft for Keynote to open ppts, or film company for playing their DVD on a Toshiba player…

All this is turning interoperability into a crime! You need keys to interoperate, and you’re not allowed to reverse-engineer keys.

steph-note: quite scary, all this.

Some of your sound systems won’t play certain types of audio, etc.

US smart enough to stay away from things like the Database Directive. In Europe, a collection of facts in a DB is protected for 50 years! Economist’s opinion on this: the DB directive is not good for Europe. They also asked the incumbents if the directive if it was good or bad, and of course they said yes. So the commission concluded: “opinions are divided! some people say it’s good, others say it’s bad! let’s leave things how they are!”

What can we do? Get involved in the EFF. steph-note: or ORG

Problem now: hearings for copyright stuff attract copyright holders, not technologists, geeks, economists.

Keith Richards isn’t going to go hungry if he doesn’t get another 40 years of copyright protection for his recordings.

First time in copyright history that the government turned its back on a proposal, and said “no, copyright extension is not a good thing”.

What Cory thinks the BBC should be doing. Streaming with DRM. Excuse: “we don’t have a choice, the right holders dictate the terms.” Why does a corporation funded by the public, for the public, come and tell the public that it has to adapt to the right holders demands, and not the opposite? Here, the BBC is not acting in public interest, but there is a history of the BBC doing so.

At one point, rights holders wanted use-by-use payment for the radio. e.g. each time the DJ want to play something, he has to call and ask permission. They turned that down. Found another solution, other music. Finally rights holders backed out and asked the radios to license their music (instead of the stupid conditions they were putting previously).

So Cory’s advice: look the rights holders in the eye, and go off to find other content, artists, etc which will agree to their terms, and give them a place they have been denied until now.

Problem: nobody is offering collective licensing schemes to the internet. Nobody is offering ISPs a blanket license for music or television shows.

It is not good for society that average people are criminalized for accessing culture.

The EFF is about copyright reform, not copyright abolitionism — not is Cory.

ThePirateBay weren’t abolitionists in Cory’s opinion, at the start.

Useful for copyright reformers that there are copyright abolitionists, because allows to say “if you don’t negotiate with us, you might end up having to deal with them”.

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12 Responses to Cory Doctorow: Europe’s Copyright Wars – Do We Have to Repeat the American Mistake? (Web 2.0 Expo, Berlin)

  1. I wrote a couple of notes about the talk here… Not extensive as yourse, so thanks for working on it :-)

  2. Joe Clark says:

    Copyright would be unrecognizable as such if capo di tutti usual suspects Cory Doctorow had his way.

  3. Though I disagree with some of the things Cory said, I am glad that he emphasized that the EFF is not an abolitionist group when it comes to copyright, but revisionist.

    I think most deeply involved with copyright, such as myself, see room for revision and improvement but few want to actually abolish it.

    However, reading the article and knowing what I know, it would seem to me that the U.S. should not be repeating the EU mistakes, not the other way around. The database directive, the ease of takedown under the EUCD and the crossover between design/patent and copyright.

    Sure, we have our screw ups when it comes to technology and anti-circumvention, but the EU is at least as messed up on some of the core issues.

    Perhaps the article should be targeted at learning from each other’s screw ups.

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  6. Marie-Aude says:

    One important thing is that the US and the European law regarding “copyrght” on one hand and “author right” on the other hand are no totally similar. Copyright inclides everything ie. the “moral right” (not to have one’s piece transformed or used in a way the author dislike), when in Europe this moral right and the financial part are two different things. In that sense, it can be important that Keith Richards copyrights are prolongated…

    and it can be important alos for another reason, for anybody : there are several cases of songs / pieces and so on that really made the boom after the death of the author. Would that be fair that the big companies could make money on that easily, without paying a dime ?

    It’s true that some actions are more targeted to “Mr Anyone” than to the techy professionals. That’s like drug fighting : scare the ones who use it, and fight the producers with other ways. But you need to scare the users also…

    At the end, it’s true the majors did not find the appropriate way to deal with this new technologies, and a re just starting to experiment new solutions. But the ones who suffered most were not the majors, they were the artists.

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