Digital Civil Rights in Europe

On 11 March 2008 Ville Oksanen, representing EDRi at the WIPO SCCR, made the following statement on the agenda item related to limitations & exceptions:

“European Digital Rights, EDRI, represents 28 privacy and civil rights organisations from 17 different countries in Europe. As this is the first time EDRI takes the floor, we’d like to congratulate you and your vice chairs on your election.

Not surprisingly, we are strongly in favour of starting the work that would hopefully lead to new international instrument on limitations and exceptions of copyright. EDRI therefore warmly supports the proposal presented by the honourable delegate of Chile.

However, EDRI firmly believes that any new instrument should have also a strong focus – for example as a part of best practices – on the rights of totally ordinary citizens — in addition to the professional or institutional users that traditionally occupy the center stage during these discussions of limitations and exceptions.

One of the key reasons for this is that value of all kinds of consumer goods is based nowadays increasingly on the software and content and not so much on hardware. As a consequence, copyright has to learn to live with consumer protection regulation. From our perspective, it would make most sense to address this challenge inside the copyright system at the international level. In practice this means that the proposed research should also seek to answer questions like “is it OK to hack your iPhone even if that requires making a derivative copy of the software ” and “is it legal to create tools that help consumer to transfer maps from his old navigator to a new one even if the license agreements forbid it”. As far as we know, answers to this kind of questions are not yet firmly established at any jurisdictions and therefore task at hand would be forward-looking global harmonization.

Finally, EDRI would like to see very much such limitations and exceptions whose aim is to protect free speech – for example parody and satire, quotations for criticism, usage of works in news – included extensively to the process. Copyright has a dark history for being a tool for censorship and oppression of controversial opinions – hopefully the possible new instrument could be a tool for redeeming this black past.”

WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights: Sixteenth Session

(Contribution by Ville Oksanen – EDRi member Electronic Frontier Finland)

See the other EDRi-gram news from issue 6.5 – 12 March 2008

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