Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Business Models Proposed In Debate On EU Culture And Copyright; Intellectual Property Watch, 6/9/10

David Cronin, Intellectual Property Watch; New Business Models Proposed In Debate On EU Culture And Copyright:

"Small fees for internet users could be used to pay musicians and other artists for the dissemination of copyright-protected work online, a Brussels conference has been told.

Following complaints that intellectual property rules are generally ill-suited to a world where digital downloading is becoming increasingly common, Green Party Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) hosted a discussion on 8 June about how easy public access to culture can be guaranteed in a way that ensures artists can make a decent living.

Philippe Aigrain, a founder of the French civil liberties group La Quadrature du Net, argued that the fundamental premise of any approach to charging for listening to music or watching films online should be that sharing files is a basic right. He took issue with major companies in the entertainment industry who have waged a long campaign against many forms of downloading. “Some big interest groups think the right to share is the root of all evil,” he said.

Aigrain recommended a new system whereby each internet subscriber would be charged a monthly fee of 5 to 7 euros and that this would generate a fund for paying artists whose work is shared on the internet. According to his calculations, such fees should yield between 1.2 billion and 1.7 billion euros each year in France alone – about one twentieth of the country’s “cultural economy”.

The income would then be distributed among artists based on surveys of a “huge panel” of individuals, who would anonymously give details of which files they had downloaded. For audiovisual work, one-third of the revenue generated would be used for remuneration and the remainder to support new productions. Yet the ratio should be reversed for music, considering that it is usually less expensive to record tunes than to make films, he added...

Maja Bogataj Jancic from the Institute of Intellectual Property in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana spoke of how “copyright is at war with technology.”

Digital technology is the greatest threat to the copyright system but it is fair to say it is also the greatest opportunity for creation,” she said. The “Creative Commons” system – through which authors and artists can grant others permission to circulate their work on a non-commercial basis – has made the sharing of published material easier, she added. Some 350 million creative commons licenses had been issued worldwide by the end of last year.

Creative Commons licenses are built on top of copyright law,” she explained. “They do not exist without copyright law.”

Austrian MEP Eva Lichtenberger contended that “culture and creative activity need to be supported in such a way that artists can have a dignified livelihood.”

She used colourful language to describe how the entertainment industry has kept a close watch on the European Union’s debates on intellectual property. “When we look at copyright and the reform of copyright so that it can be adapted to the twenty-first century, there is a veritable lobbying war going on. Lobbyists even follow you to the ladies’ room in order to continue discussions you have been having.”

Her French colleague Karima Delli noted that 1.6 billion people worldwide have the means to copy files. “This is the very basis for a shared culture; the internet should be the means by which we democratise culture,” she said. “There is no magic solution. We are going to have to try out new economic models to fight against the concentration of powers in many commercial systems applying to cinema and books, etcetera.”

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