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Print 55 comment(s) - last by Miqunator.. on Apr 8 at 8:38 AM


As and IFPI lobbyist, Maria Martin-Prat looked to outlaw DRM cracking and making backup copies. Now she's Europe's "copyright queen" (or more precisely the "Head of Unit Services I, Directorate General Internal Market, European Commission").   (Source: European Commission)

EU legislators Christian Engström (Sweden, top) and Marietje Schaake (Netherlands, bottom) are fighting the appointment.  (Source: Wired (top)/LGEO Online (bottom))
EU hires a head lobbyist from RIAA parent org. IFPI to steer its copyright policy

While most agree that piracy is illegal and wrong to some extent, many feel the media industry is behind the times when it comes to digital distribution.  They argue that media companies fail to provide consumers with appealing options hence consumers take matters into their own hands and resort to piracy.  They also complain that the piracy punishment resembles mob tactics more than a fair legal process, with million dollar verdicts against everyday citizensthreats, and off-the-record settlements.

Unfortunately for those unhappy with the situation, it may be about to get worse.  

I.  The EC's New Copyright Chief -- A History of Working to Cut Owner Rights

The European Union has been appointed Maria Martin-Prat to head their copyright commission.  The copyright commission is part of the EU's business regulatory body, the European Commission (EC).  Ms. Martin-Prat will be replacing former chief Tilman Lueder, who is heading to a new position in China.

Ms. Martin-Prat had formerly left the EC and enjoyed employment working at International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the parent organization of the U.S.'s RIAA, Canada's CRIA, and Britain's BPI.

During her stint at the IFPI, Ms. Martin-Prat worked to try to outlaw backup copies of media.  The EC provides a private copying exemption, dubbed the European Fair Dealing.  The U.S. enjoys similar exemptions, which the RIAA/IFPI have contended in the past are illegal.  They argue that making backups is "stealing" and you should just repurchase damaged/lost content.  Ms. Martin-Prat argued [PDF] that backups have "no reason to exist".

She contends that backup exemptions violate the three-step test first written into the Berne copyright convention 50 years ago.  Those steps state that exemptions are only fair if they:

  1. Apply to a "special" case. 
  2. Don’t interfere with the "normal exploitation of the work."
  3. Don't "unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the rights holder." 
She reiterated her stance in a conference paper [PDF].

Similarly, Ms. Martin-Prat looked to rob consumers of the ability to crack DRM.  DRM cracking in the U.S. and Europe is prohibited, but not typically prosecuted unless you distribute the cracked files.  Ms. Martin-Prat sought to make the very act of DRM cracking a prosecutable felony.

In her IFPI work said that she and the industry were "pleading for strong copyright protection".  Well apparently those pleas for stronger "protection" have been answered.

II. Growing Opposition to Appointment

Two EU legislators -- Liberal Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake and Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström -- have openly blasted the appointment.  They write [PDF] the EC asking:

 

Does the Commission not see any problems in recruiting top civil servants from special interest organisations, especially when being put in charge of dossiers directly related to their former employers? If not, why not?

Does the Commission feel that such an appointment would help to build confidence with the European Parliament and the general public that the Commission can be trusted to handle copyright-related issues in a fair and balanced manner?

Mr. Engström was even more emphatic in his own blog, slamming the EU for supporting what he sees as corrupt cronyism.  He writes:

Welcome to the European Union, where the big business lobby organizations are calling most of the shots at the Commission, and where citizens are just seen as a nuisance to be ignored. I guess the only real news is that they don’t even bother to try to hide it any more.

Given existing EC rules and policies, the organization now has to respond to the criticism pertaining to the appointment, justifying its controversial decision.

This is not the first time that the issues of corruption, favoritism, and bias have been raised in Europe.  During the iconic trial of the Pirate Bay, the judge in the trial was found to have formerly worked for a copyright protection organization.  

He provided jurors with information that the Pirate Bay admins' legal team felt was inaccurate and misleading.  The trial resulted in a conviction, a sentence of prison time, and a massive fine for the admins.

The legal team tried to appeal the verdict and sentence, but ended up losing before an unsympathetic higher court.



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By PrinceGaz on 4/6/2011 1:58:52 PM , Rating: 3
The DRM is only there to help ensure you do not accidentally break the law by making unauthorised copies of it, and also ensures you get the best possible experience with all the media you have purchased.

So if in the past you have bought a DVD of a movie, you are free to watch that DVD in any DVD player you own, but if you want to watch it on something like an iPhone, the correct way to do so is to buy a copy from iTunes which has been optimised to provide the best experience on that device, and if you want to watch it in high-definition, you can buy a Blu-Ray copy for use in a Blu-Ray player. You haven't actually bought the same thing three times, rather you are paying to get three times the value out of the movie.

As for games, there is no reason to make a backup copy of a disc as most publishers will be willing to mail you a new disc in exchange for your original one, at a cost which covers their expense for providing this service (which will normally be less than the original cost of the game).

Piracy is a serious problem as every time a music track, movie, game, or anything else is pirated; it is the same as stealing the money for it from the talented people who created it. Rather than robbing the musicians and other artists you enjoy, you should pay for their work. Downloading one music track illegally might seem like nothing to you, but that is one dollar or so lost to those who helped create it. Upload the same track to a hundred other people and that could be a hundred dollars lost. That is why piracy must be clamped down on as those responsible for it are often responsible for stealing and distributing many tracks and movies, adding up to hundreds of thousands, sometimes many millions of dollars. If they cannot pay for everything they have stolen, a lengthy jail term must be considered.

DRM exists only to help you avoid breaking the law and doing the wrong thing. Why would anyone not be in favour of it?

;)


By icemansims on 4/6/2011 2:07:55 PM , Rating: 5
For the record, I think (at least I hope) Gaz just forgot the /sarcasm.


By Denigrate on 4/6/2011 2:22:21 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you missed the ;).


By Ristogod on 4/6/2011 2:13:01 PM , Rating: 2
Except that DRM rarely works in a way beneficial to the consumer. How does DRM that routinely malfunctions causing the paid for product to be useless help anyone? Your interpretation is a twisted delusion of unrealistic improbabilities that does not represent actual concerns. DRM helps no one, including those selling the product. I doubt anyone looks to insure DRM is present before purchasing, yet I would imagine a great deal avoid purchasing something with DRM embedded. So how does that help anyone?


By bigboxes on 4/6/2011 2:40:50 PM , Rating: 3
+6

At first I was like wtf then I started laughing at it's absurdity then I saw the ;). Well played, sir!


By Johnmcl7 on 4/6/2011 4:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
How could you miss that the entire reply is written tongue in cheek? They even added a winking smiley at the end...

John


By spamreader1 on 4/7/2011 9:48:56 AM , Rating: 2
Probably lack of caffeine, it's early here, I almost missed the irony.


By mathew7 on 4/8/2011 5:25:33 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Downloading one music track illegally might seem like nothing to you, but that is one dollar or so lost to those who helped create it. Upload the same track to a hundred other people and that could be a hundred dollars lost.


You said it yourself: "could".... You are using the industries arguments, but forget that a person does NOT have infinite money. One download does not mean lost money. There is so much content that as a non-multi-million individual, you cannot decide which content you should buy.
There are 3 ways to take it:
1. buy the content legaly
2. download, watch and buy it afterwards
3. download, watch and forget it

My point is that option 2 exists, and I personally use it. This can also be viewed as free advertising.

Also, option 3 can be for different reasons:
- a student may have lots of free time, but not enough money, so he engages in a lot of entertainment, but he would NEVER HAVE MONEY to buy it.
- he CANNOT BUY the content even if he wants it, because it's not sold in his area (disc regions, lack of distribution in highly-pirated countries)

Nobody can prove what is the distribution of these parts, most agree on part 3 being the biggest.

Most indie developers look pretty good at piracy as advertising and a sign that they did a "wanted" work. Only the big houses want the last cent of the distribution, but forget that customers want also quality, not only quantity. Their dollars ARE HELPED by piracy. Without piracy they would not have a part of their money. Piracy also could give them an indication of how the content is seen by NON-PAID reviewers.

But do remember that copyright appeared as a civil law. When it first appeared (in U.S.??) it was to stop mass book-copiers from profiting. Not from a neighbor copying the book for his own use (because that could never be checked anyway).


By Miqunator on 4/8/2011 8:38:57 AM , Rating: 2
The sarcasm is strong with this one


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