WHILE GRADING ACADEMIC WORK concerning copyright in Ireland, it's interesting to watch the debate around copyright in Germany restart in earnest, fueled in part by the the weekly newspaper Die Zeit's letter entitled “We are the Creators”.
The letter and the response it generated should be read by Irish Junior Minister Sean Sherlock because the letter marks the battleground of the claims citizens will make about their digital rights. The letter condemns the "profane theft" of intellectual property, characterised as a " great achievement of bourgeois freedom against the dependency of feudalism" and defends the role of the publishers and other intermediaries commercially exploiting copyrights, and decries those who would use the internet as an excuse for "stinginess and malice".
More than 3000 "creators" signed up to the cause.
I sense that even though international copyright law seeks to protect authors and publishers, the greater mass of people believe they have an equal claim to creative work. Moreover, as events with the Pirate Party in German are showing, the time is ripe to alter property and power relations. Specifically, the Pirate Party stands behind the "We are the Citizens" movement. The Pirate Party's copyright policy is distinctly moderate: the party would shorten the term of protection from the (current) life of the author plus seventy years to life plus ten. Any rights transferred to an intermediary for exploitation would return to the author after 25 years. All assignments would only be valid for those media known at the time.
And the Pirate Party opposes prosecuting users of filesharing systems, arguing that as a practice it is merely a symptom of the current industry’s incapacity to satisfy demand.
I wish there were strong political undercurrents about the rights of Irish citizens in the digital era. All political parties deserve greater scrutiny as to how they view the internet and communications. At the moment, I believe there is too cosy a relationship between Irish Ministers the vested interests of communications moguls and industry lobbyists who seek regulate copyright for their own profit. They spin the message as a matter of "jobs" while actually articulating the politics of "profit".
Bernie Goldbach curates links about copyright.