Crowdsourced Finnish copyright bill headed to parliament

More than 50,000 people have backed the proposal

By Loek Essers, IDG News Service |  IT Management

A crowdsourced Finnish draft law that aims to reduce penalties on small-scale private downloading from peer-to-peer networks reached enough backers to be discussed by the parliament.

The necessary threshold of 50,000 backers to send the bill to parliament was reached Monday, said Heini Huotarinen, senior officer of the Finnish Ministry of Justice. At midday Tuesday local time, the number stood at 52,895.

The initiative called the Common Sense in Copyright Act is a crowdsourced set of improvements to the current copyright legislation, said Joonas Pekkanen of Open Ministry, an organization that helps nonprofits and individuals make proposals for laws and designs campaigns around them.

Pekkanen is one of the initiators of the Common Sense in Copyright Act and is its representative.

The act comes in the form of a draft bill that proposes to change legislation introduced in Finland in 2006 that treats downloading from peer-to-peer networks as a felony, said Pekkanen. "Currently it carries the same penalties in the penal code as severe crimes on health and public safety, such as involuntary manslaughter or violent rioting," Pekkanen said, adding that the initiative aims to change the penalty to that of petty theft.

The bill also proposes to treat classrooms as nonpublic spaces when it comes to using copyright protected material for teaching purposes, Pekkanen said. "Teachers would be free to use any material, which is not originally meant for teaching purposes. So teachers would be allowed to show YouTube videos or have the pupils translate a news article, but, obviously, they would not be allowed to copy school books, so existing industry and business isn't affected," he said.

The bill was drafted by more than 1,100 people who voted, commented or contributed to the draft online, Pekkanen said, adding that Open Ministry used open Google documents, comments on its platform and email submissions to gather all the input.

Volunteer lawyers then went through all the suggestions to see if changes had to be made due to restrictions by E.U. copyright directives, he said. After that, the suggestions were written into a law proposal format, he added.

"It is fairly obvious that the needs of society, the citizen and, in many cases, the actual creators have been largely forgotten by policy-makers with regard to copyright," said Joe McNamee, executive director of European digital rights group EDRi, in an email. Increasingly absurd laws are "pushed by industry lobbyists that wouldn't recognize true creativity if it dropped onto their heads from a great height," he added.

However, there is still a long way to go to achieve real change in Finland.

Join us:
Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Tumblr

LinkedIn

Google+

Answers - Powered by ITworld

Ask a Question
randomness