Finnish Direct Democracy Does Damage to Copyright Hawks
July 23, 2013 | 3:55 pm
I always knew that all that lobbyist-driven cranking up of copyright infringement penalties to ridiculous and indefensible heights would prove self-defeating and fuel its own backlash. Now, thanks to a recent direct democracy reform that allows citizens to kickstart legislation or law reform, Finnish citizens have voted to submit copyright revision proposals to parliament for debate and a vote.
This doesn’t mean that the Pirate Bay Party has set sail for Helsinki. Rather, the proposals, entitled “The Common Sense in Copyright Act,” bring together a slew of measures, including removal of unfair clauses in recording deals, a wider scope of fair use, and reduction of copyright infringements from criminal status to a misdemeanor.
The initiative, which has the backing of the Finnish Electronic Frontier Foundation, according to Torrent Freak, needed to gather 50,000 votes in six months to go through. The referendum managed to scrape through the deadline with 53,169 votes.
A key trigger for the initiative was apparently an incident where aggressive action by local copyright holder group CIAPC, including demands for cash payment, led ultimately to a police raid on a family home and confiscation of a nine-year-old’s Winnie the Pooh laptop. House searches are apparently common under current Finnish copyright law.
“Adoption of a more serious form of the copyright law allows for searches, seizures and major damages,” declares the proposal text. “The proposal aims to improve the artists’ and other content creators’ position as well.”
Scandalous, subversive stuff. As if defending nine-year-olds wasn’t already bad enough. Maybe now it’s time for the RIAA to go after all 50,000 signatories with a pre-emptive lawsuit. Or perhaps the entire Finnish nation. Go for it, guys.