Monday, February 20, 2012

Going Dutch in Copyright

While the US and the EU continue to push for ever-more restrictive copyright and Intellectual Property rights law and policy, the Dutch are borrowing an idea from the US Fair Use provisions and Japan's Doujinshi movement to liberalize their own copyright laws to explicitly allow the creative re-use of copyrighted materials in remixes and mashups.  The current IP focus aims to protect existing content, in large part by restricting new derivative works.
  The proposed Dutch laws would explicitly protect fair use of copyrighted material in the creation of new artistic works. "We all love YouTube," says Bernt Hugenholtz of the Dutch state committee on copyright law. "Many of the videos we find there are creative remixes of material protected under copyright. They're mostly for laughs or political commentary, or they're simply absurd... We all agree that it's good for creativity, good for laughs, and no one gets hurt. Copyright holders are not harmed, so it makes a lot of sense to allow this. But in Europe, where we do not have open norms like the fair use doctrine in the United States, we can't do these things without infringing the law."
The Dutch proposal faces stiff challenges from copyright industries who feel they benefit significantly from restricting how the existing content they own can be used, and maximizing the revenues that existing content can create.  One could also argue that they have a vested interest in reducing the competition for old content from new creative remixes and mashups.  Marietje Schaake, of the European Parliament, was quoted by Radio Netherlands as stating the underlying conundrum for regulators:
"We must ensure that there is competition and a free market but we have to protect creativity as well. Right now the entertainment industry, for one, benefits from these outdated laws. These big parties will do all they can to prevent reform or redesign at all."
It'll be interesting to see how this proceeds.

Sources -  Dutch Pave the Way for Looser Copyright Laws, Technology Review
Loosen up Copyright law, says Dutch government,  Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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