19 January 2018 — OpenMedia
Since the 1700s, a form of copyright law has ensured creators could profit from their original work before it passed into the public domain. In the 20th century that began to change, as ‘rights holders’ more aggressively expanded the scope of these laws, profiting handsomely – often at the expense of the creators – and turning aggressive litigation, with tenuous connection to original work, into just another revenue stream.
Copyright law has now been captured by major media interests all over the world. That’s why digital rights organisations in Brazil, Pakistan, Canada and Austria all fight to make it better for everyone: accessible and open, not just owned by a few huge corporations.
Every year we see the absurd lengths corporate giants will go to to maintain this power:
A video of 5 hours of white noise has 5 different copyright take-down claims under YouTube’s ContentID system.1 (that’s the system European decision makers want to expand to all user generated sites.)
Tractor owners have a black market in manuals because John Deere forbids farmers from fixing or tinkering with the expensive machinery that they have actually paid for.2
The European Commission buried research that proved links are actually good for the spread of news and information, because that was not what they wanted to hear when trying to sell their Link Tax.3
This week is Copyright Week, a global event bringing these groups together to plan what we will do to overhaul copyright laws, so they have a positive impact on our rights and on creativity once more rather than more of the stories we see above.
Just like us at OpenMedia, these organisations depend on their communities to make a difference.
You can share the ways you’ve made a difference on these issues using #copyrightweek.
I know our global community has had some great victories, like when Canadians spoke up to make sure that the dangerous Intellectual Property chapter from the Trans Pacific Partnership was dropped. The secretive trade agreement would have introduced strict punishments for infringement, even longer copyright terms and a global ‘notice and takedown’, leading to vast amounts of lost content online.
The most inspirational moment of last year for me was watching hundreds of people calling their MEPs about the Link Tax and against Censorship Machines, huge changes to how the web works that would limit free expression in the name of copyright enforcement for media giants. Key decision makers have heard those calls and put the upcoming vote on hold to come up with a better version, one that we hope won’t undermine our freedom of expression.
Copyright is currently used to deny people Internet access,4 to demand take-downs of original content,5 to deny people access to content based on where they live,6 and to silence the very fan communities that make or break pop culture.7 You can share your stories and read more about how these issues impact libraries, engineers, schools, universities, and artists by following #copyrightweek.
 White noise take down video. Source: BoingBoing
 Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware: MotherBoard
 Commission to scientists: Stop ruining our copyright plans with your facts and your research! Source: Julia Reda
 ‘Radical and overreaching’: Bell wants Canadians blocked from piracy websites: CBC News
 When I want to teach, but can’t thanks to Universal Music Group. Source: Adam Neely
 The reasons why geo-blocking must be stopped. Source: TechRadar
 Despite the certainty of takedowns, fan developers still pursue Nintendo’s works: Polygon
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