The EU Asks You: Can the Internet and Copyright Get Along?

by Dan

Imagine the simplicity of copyright laws of the 1950s as compared to those of today.  Decades ago, artists and associated labels dealt with minimum media platforms and communication resources.  Given today’s worldwide reach of digital content, many believe copyright laws are well overdue for a revamp.

Should users be allowed to share content?  If so, to what extent?  Napster, a shared-file service was denied ability to flourish; execs felt people should be allowed to share music and other varieties of content as long as economic gain was not involved, but courts did not agree.

copyright

The EU

In addition to the legalization of file sharing, the EU openly asks the public to discuss rights, leveraged rhetoric, etc, proposing amendments to existing laws in addition to ideas on how to shape a fast-changing subdivision of law.

Those offering insight may do so via an online form, open to people of all nations until the beginning of February.  The EU hopes to facilitate effective communication, host tangible resources and sources of argument for lobbyists, in addition to separating assumptions from the voice of the people by providing the online consultation.

Rights

‘Rights’ is an intangible term, but practically, regarding content, rights usually reflect the ability to produce revenue from content.  What ‘rights’ do artists, publishers, buyers, and listeners have regarding a piece of content?

As we’ve experienced, ethical lines can get obscured, and streams of revenue blocked.  For example, since the dawn of the digital age, the record industry has seen a direct influence on sales, declining since the mid 90s.  The decline is due to another avenue of access rather than waning interest in art.

People love art but are willing to sacrifice nuance for it in some cases.  For example, people love football, willing to pay hundreds to watch a game, but those who cannot attend physically are still very interested to watch at home.  And, what network has the ‘rights’ to broadcast is a very legal and strict enterprise; just one angle to consider as more sports are streamed digitally.

EU internet

Pick and Choose

While all consumers, due to copyright infringement or VPN compromise, should use safe download sites and platforms, a flourish of vendors does allow consumers of music, videos, etc to pick and choose at their leisure, given limitations. Consumers can also turn to software vendors such as www.Vuze.com who advocate legal forms of downloading.

Another example is Pandora, a free streaming service, enabled through one’s smart phone, mobile device and computer.  Free and paid versions exist, the latter offering a more personalized service.  In theory, given the breadth of songs and availability of devices, one does not need to purchase music ever again.  However, can Pandora’s digital streaming accommodate for the sound of the needle scratching on an aged record?  With artists and those representing them wanting to capitalize on the monetary value of content as much as possible, while consumers becoming increasingly accustomed to free sources of content, the EU’s current endeavor is timely and warranted.

There are many parties involved and millions to billions of dollars at stake regarding the law’s stance on copyrighted material.

Richard Miller is fascinated by intellectual property laws and the internet. His years of studying law help him blog about the changes and implications of such legal concerns for the average web user.

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