Sunday, December 23, 2007

Piracy, copyrights, collecting societies

It looks like the Dutch are cleaning up the internet scene: handing out fines for spyware and catching front people in a bank fraud. For 2008 content piracy, copyrights and collecting societies have been placed on the agenda by no less than three government departments, i.e. the department of Justice, the department of Economic Affairs and the department of Education, Culture and Science. The three ministers have put together a letter to the Parliament promising more attention for maintaining the rights of authors, fighting infringement of copyrights and supervising the activities of collecting societies.

Fighting infringement of copyrights will be at source, aiming at large scale, illegal uploaders. The organised digital piracy and unauthorised distribution of digital content products such as movies, games and music via internet will be targeted. Measures will be announced in a letter to the Parliament in the first half of 2008. The fight against piracy on internet is part of a broader package of measures to attack problems in the sector of copyrights.

On the other hand the government wants to regulate the collecting societies better. Presently consumers are charged at source with blank levies, choirs are persecuted for paying for music scores and companies receive several invoices, based on various criteria. The whole system will have to be made transparent, while the inspection of almost the entire system of collecting societies will be overseen by an inspection team on authors’ and neighbouring rights. The inspection team will not only approve raising the tariffs, but also exercise preventive care.

Collecting societies will have to get organized in such a way that they can send out one invoice per company. This should be possible from January 1, 2009 onwards, so that administrative bureaucracy can be diminished. This will yield a lot of debate as people will see what kind of levies they will have to pay for; while they will have to object against every single levy, if they want to. On the other hand they can pay one invoice in one go.

The cabinet is also writing legislation to improve the position of the individual creator and executing performer. The possibility is researched for creatives to collectively negotiate about minimum tariffs and royalties on copyright protected work.

Also the position of the so called home copy – a copy made for use at home - will be researched on technical protection; an area seen by the cabinet as a meeting point between copyright and innovation.

Last but not least, a series of studies will be undertaken by the minister of Economic Affairs. Important is the study between copyrights and competition. This study should be ready by the fall of 2008. This might be come an interesting study as collecting societies have so far territorial protection, to which the EC has objected this year and asked the collecting societies to consider competition. A study updating the economic value of copyrights should be ready by the summer of 2008. And a study for the cultural and economic effects of digital piracy should be completed by the fall of 2008.

All in all the Dutch government is working on the protection of the traditional copyright in the digital setting. In the announcement of the program on piracy, copyrights and collecting societies, no mention is made op European Patents, creative commons and open access. This will be a challenge as the Dutch government has announced to take open source and its implementation seriously from April 1, 2008 onwards.

Blog Posting Number: 959

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