Friday, January 25, 2008

Dutch parliamentary hearings into copyright (3)

The open letter contains six points of interest and for discussion:

1. The duration of copyright is too long
After many changes in the law copyright now till seventy years after the death of the author. This has many consequences.
a. Requests for re-use are not honoured, while re-use stimulates a strong and pluriform cultural development;
b. Most of the copyrighted works are not available, as it is not of interest economically;
c. No permission will be given for copying unique, vulnerable works;
d. Works are no longer available as the rights holders are no longer traceable;
e. Works are no longer available, even in the public domain, as the data about the death of the authors are not traceable.
The last round of prolongations from fifty to seventy years after the death of an author, has not yielded any extra culture; only extra costs for the readers.
Proposal: shorten copyright to twenty years after publication and create a transition period by twenty years. This will provide breathing space to change international treaties or cancel them.

2. The reach of copyright is too wide
For every minimal re-use permission is required. This puts a brake on creative re-use and causes an enormous administrative overhead. Dutch law knows a closed system of limitations. The US system on the other hand is one of fair use, which allows re-use within boundaries. It is remarkable that the European market with a database directive is seven times smaller than the US market.
Proposal: introduce fair use.

3. Copyright is extremely complex
The Copyright Act has become complex over the years. And when it is only the right of a small Group of specialists, this can be accepted. But with the introduction of internet citizens have become potential publishers. So copyright should be clear for large groups of people. So exceptions and exceptions upon exceptions should be excluded. No special treatment for specific categories; no distinction between copyright and neighbouring rights. The Act should fit on one A-4 and understandable for the average citizen. In order to establish whether there is copyright on a specific work, a public register should be set up.
A reformed copyright act should exclusively be aimed at the audience. The traditional, exclusive right of copying should be abolished and replaced with the already existing exclusive right of communication with the audience. Copyright should limit itself to publication; reproduction dates back to the time when technology was limited.
Proposal: make only communication to the audience an exclusive right.

Blog Posting Number: 988

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Tags: copyright, neighbouring rights, fair use

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