Pirate Party Politician Leads Official European Copyright Review


A Pirate Party politician is writing an official review of copyright law for the European Parliament. However, reports that Julia Reda will be writing new rules aren’t quite the case.

Reda was elected to the European Parliament last May under Germany’s proportional representation voting system. New rules that removed a minimum threshold meant that although it only achieved 1.45 percent of the national vote (which is done by party rather than candidate), the Pirates were allocated one seat.

Europe is currently undergoing a lengthy review of how copyright law works across the member states, including whether and how to resolve the differences between laws in different countries. The first step is for the Parliament to prepare a report on how the last set of changes, introduced in 2001 to reflect the effects of the Internet and other technologies, have worked in practice. Reda notes the 2001 rules are now extremely dated, dealing with online copyright “from a time before Facebook and YouTube.”

Reda has been appointed “rapporteur” for the report, which means that she will formally write it. She doesn’t have a completely free hand however: she’ll have to negotiate the content with representatives of other political groupings. The final report will need to be approved by a vote of a committee (legal affairs) and then the full parliament before it can be classed as the official view of the Parliament.

If and when it’s approved, the report will have to be taken into account by European commissioners as they develop new proposals. These proposals will then go back to the politicians for a final vote before becoming a directive, which individual countries must then incorporate into domestic law.

Technically speaking, Reda won’t be able to make specific proposals for new laws. However, she will be able to list failings and shortcomings in the current system and detail problems that need fixing and possible solutions.

Whether she’ll be able to get fellow politicians to agree to a report that calls for drastic changes remains to be seen, but a policy document on her website makes clear she favors a complete overhaul:

We want you to be able to watch movies, TV shows and videos online, no matter what country you live in. Nobody gets why you can watch new shows only months after they’ve been released, why the funniest online videos are “not available in your country” or why services like Netflix can’t run in Europe. We want to update copyright to the realities of the Internet. We need more freedom in dealing with digital works and a right to remix.

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