EU copyright law – Pirates enable citizen participation

EU copyright law – Pirates enable citizen participation

The European Commission is currently planning the next revision of IPRED, the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive. At the very least the directive is expected to carve the current copyright regime deeper into stone, thereby further preventing much needed reform. But very likely it will also include a tightening of “enforcement”, for example restrictions on due process for file sharers through “fast track” litigation, more enforcement responsibilities for private service providers and harder penalties.

Before submitting the directive to the European legislative process, the Commission opened a “consultation”, an online survey about the proposal, in November 2012. These consultations usually are relatively complex and time intensive and thus usually only filled out by NGOs and lobbyists.

However, PPSE MEP Amelia Andersdotter has published a handy guide that enables citizens to have their say. With the help of other Pirates from different European countries it is now available in several languages, to allow as many people as possible to fill out the survey. And they were quick: In fact, the translations of the guide were there even before the Commission had translated the survey itself into its three working languages.

Some Pirate Parties have started additional campaigns to spread the word, such as the project group (PG) Intellectual Property Rights of PPDE, who also helped with the translation work. Digital rights NGOs such as EDRi have also taken up the call for broad citizen participation in the consultation and have written a guide of their own.

There’s also another consultation that touches on copyright law, even though its main focus is trade secrets. It is nonetheless an opportunity to make your voice heard. And since Amelia wrote a guide for it as well, it only takes minutes. Again, PPDE’s PG Intellectual Property Rights helped with translations, so that the guide is now available in three languages.

By providing these survey manuals, Pirates and net activists serve as mediators between the Commission’s lobby targeted questions and citizen’s concerns over civil liberties and outdated copyright rules on the internet.

Now it is up to the people to make their mark by outweighing lobby input in these consultations. This way they can make clear that a more open approach to information freedom in general and copyright law in particular is necessary, instead of further entrenchment of restrictive rules.

The IPRED consultation ends on 30 March 2013. People who would like to participate should plan in a few additional days, because they will have to apply for a survey link from the European Commission first. The consultation on trade secrets already ends on 8 March 2013, but there is no registration required.

Featured image: CC-BY flickr user entrapir