I've had a section here c... (21 Jan 2008)

I've had a section here called Letters I've written to my MP for ages. I've not really had an MP for a while now so it's dried up a little. But fear not, stupidity hasn't left politics! Danny from the EFF alerts us to more stupidity (stupidity in bold) from the EU. However, I don't have time to get a physical letter there before the vote, so an email will have to do.

Dear Sir,

I find myself dismayed to read the proposed amendments, numbered 80 and 82 (paragraph 9a) in the Guy Bono report which I believe comes to the vote on Tuesday. This text is replete with misunderstandings which are sadly all too common.

Amendment 80 proposes legislative action to put the burden of copyright infringement on Internet Service Providers by compelling them to use filtering technologies. Thankfully I don't need to hypothesise about the consequences of this since this experiment has already been attempted in the United States in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Despite protections which are probably in excess of what the proposers of this amendment would consider reasonable, the DMCA has lead to a culture of censorship where risk-adverse ISPs are quick to remove any claimed potential liability and then have no incentive to consider to revise this decision. As a short example, the Church of Scientology has repeatedly[1] used the DMCA to hamper the work of those claiming that it's a dangerous cult - a view shared by the German government for one.

Amendment 82 shows a gross misunderstanding of copyright law as demonstrated by language like "artists who risk seeing their work fall within the public domain in their lifetime" and "consider the competitive disadvantage posed by less generous protection terms in Europe than in the United States". Both of these notions should have been put to rest by the generally excellent Gowers report[2]. The public domain is not a risk. Copyright is very much a temporary monopoly and the public domain is the expected, and correct, fate of copyrighted works. Gowers also notes that artists hardly benefit from the current excessive copyright term let alone a even longer one. Also, the competitive advantage is that foreign rightsholders earn more by charging EU citizens for longer. The advantage exists, but it's not to the EU citizen.

Please do your utmost to remove these paragraphs from the final report and thus save the CULT committee from ridicule.

Thank you.


Adam Langley