[A2k] Finland Writes History With Crowdsourced Copyright Law by Ernesto

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Mon Jul 22 11:54:48 PDT 2013


Finland Writes History With Crowdsourced Copyright Law by Ernesto    July
22, 2013
Finland is the first country in the world in which Parliament will vote on
a “fairer” copyright law that has been crowdsourced by the public. The
proposal, which obtained the required 50,000 Finnish votes just a day
before the deadline, seeks to decriminalize file-sharing and legalize the
copying of items that people already own.

Since last year the Finnish public has had the option of suggesting the
kind of laws they want to be governed under.

A recent modification of the national Constitution allows citizens to make
legislative proposals for Parliament to vote on, providing they get 50,000
supporters within six months.

One of the submitted proposals, which calls for a fairer copyright law,
just reached its goal one day before the voting deadline. This makes
Finland the first country in the world in which legislators will vote on a
copyright law that was drafted by citizens.

Termed “The Common Sense in Copyright Act,” the proposal wants to reduce
penalties for copyright infringement, increase fair use, ban unfair clauses
in recording contracts, and ease the ability for people to make copies of
items they already own for backup and time-shifting purposes.

The decriminalization of file-sharing will also put a stop to house
searches and online surveillance of suspected copyright infringers, not
uncommon events in Finland.

Last year a house search resulted in international outrage when it was
revealed that a police unit raided a 9-year-old girl and confiscated her
Winnie the Pooh laptop after an allegation of sharing.

Now that the goal of 50,000 votes has been reached the copyright law
proposal will be put to the vote in the Finnish Parliament. This is likely
to take place early next year.

In the meantime, street artist Sampsa, who pushed the proposal forward
together with the Finnish Electronic Frontier Foundation (Effi), continues
to gather political support for the law, not just in Finland, but also in
Europe and throughout the rest of the world.

“We’ve begun working closely with European Digital Rights members globally
to ensure that when the vote hits the floor in 2014, the pressure is still
on so copyright law will be changed forever,” Sampsa told TorrentFreak.

Open Ministry, the organization that coordinates the public proposals,
notes that today’s success breaks with an old tradition where lobbyists
draft copyright law. This counter-proposal is needed to restore the
balance, they argue.

“Members of Parliament are quite open about the fact, that Copyright Laws
are handed down to them from the international lobbyists. If we do not push
back, they will keep on rubber-stamping harsh legislation and infringing on
consumer rights,” Joonas Pekkanen, Chairman of Open Ministry, informs

Of course, even if the proposal reaches the goal, there’s no guarantee that
the Parliament will sign it into law in its current form. However, for a
country that has a voting population of just over four million, a proposal
with direct support from 50,000 citizens can’t be easily ignored.

Manon Ress, Knowledge Ecology International, KEI
manon.ress at keionline.org, tel.: +1 202 332 2670
KEI is a not for profit non governmental organization that searches for
better outcomes, including new solutions, to the management of knowledge
resources. KEI is focused on social justice, particularly for the most
vulnerable populations, including low-income persons and marginalized

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