Technology, copyright, and censorship. Since the invention of the printing press, the three have been linked. Many of the earliest copyright laws in Europe have their origins in “early modern print and copyright licensing”, used in the 16th century by church and state to try and control what was being said with the revolutionary new movable-type technology.
And technology has always moved faster than copyright. The world’s first real copyright law was only enacted in England in 1710, hundreds of years after Johannes Gutenberg and his printing press. It wasn’t until the Berne Convention was adopted in 1887 that the first international agreement on copyright was reached. Over 130 years later, the Berne Convention is still one of the principle international agreements on copyright (the other being the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention). In the meantime, technology has been on an upwards march; the printing press has been joined by innovations such as radio, cinema, television, and (most recently) the internet.
Is it time to update Europe’s copyright laws? Parts of the EU’s current copyright regime dealing with digital media date back to the early 2000s, predating YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms we take for granted today. In order to bring European copyright in line with new digital realities, the European Commission has proposed a new Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. However, there has been much criticism of the European Parliament’s version of the proposed new law, including charges that it could lead to either a chilling effect on freedom of speech or even censorship (intentional or not) of critical voices.Curious to know more about copyright in the European Union? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Michalis, who argues that copyright is an “essential element of motivating innovation… which is an essential element of improving human lives and progressing humanity!”
How important is copyright for motivating creators? And what would a fair copyright regime look like in practice? On Tuesday 20th November, Debating Europe hosted an event on copyright reform in Brussels with MEPs, YouTube creators, and representatives from the European Commission and industry. During the event, we sat down with YouTube creator Enrique A. Fonseca Porras, co-founder of the VisualPolitik channel, and asked him what he would say to Michalis.
To get another perspective, we put the same comment to Manuel Mateo Goyet, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner Mariya Gabriel (Commissioner for the Digital Economy). His portfolio includes a focus on copyright, and he has been working extensively on the proposed Directive. What would he say?
Next up, we asked another creator to respond: Guglielmo Scilla, founder of the Willwoosh YouTube channel. How important was copyright in motivating him?
Next up, we had a comment sent in from Ole, who said that opposition to the EU Copyright Directive is “promoted by Europe’s pirates and the large internet platforms that are categorically against regulation of the Internet.” Is that a fair criticism?
To get a response, we put Ole’s comment to Axel Voss, MEP and Rapporteur on the EU Copyright Directive for the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs. What would he say?
Ole is right because these copyright infringements are increasing massively, and the platforms are getting a kind of remuneration via advertising and clicks, and so that’s what we would like to change. So, that also rights-holders and authors and performers are able to [benefit] as well as platforms.
For a different perspective, we also put Ole’s comment to Julia Reda, a Pirate Party MEP from Germany, who has been leading on digital copyright for the Greens-European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament. How would she respond?
Can we protect copyright and creativity at the same time? What would a fair copyright regime look like? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStock – vverve
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