For the past two years, OpenMedia have been working on a multi-platform, crowdsourced initiative to prepare an agenda to reform copyright legislation across the world.
OpenMedia have just released their final report. The report aims to inspire greater transparency in legislative reform and to give voice to the millions of Internet users usually silenced in political debates.
The report grows out of a response to the anti-democratic, secretive negotiation processes of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. OpenMedia sought to fight Internet censorship through community engagement and advocacy. In preparing this report, input was sought from hundreds of thousands of Internet users worldwide.
This project has seen OpenMedia present three key recommendations for copyright reform. These recommendations are a result of petitions, campaigns, interaction events, coalitions, a debate, a listening tour, a drag-and-drop crowdsourcing survey, an Internet town hall and various social media engagement undertaken across the past two years. The result is striking in its call for transparency in legislative development, greater creative freedom and its emphasis on the rights of creators.
Recommendation #1: Respect Creators
OpenMedia’s vision for copyright law is to ‘balance fair compensation with ensuring that artists have access to the content they need to remix and build new works.’ The report highlights the concern of the community about the disproportionate revenue split between creators and publishers as well as an inhibited ability for creators to share and develop new works.
Participants in our crowdsourcing process indicated strong support for those in the creative industries – a significant majority (67 percent) wanted to see creators receive at least 75 percent of the revenue from their work, and an amazing 89.2 percent of respondents noted that we should always give credit to the creator of a work when sharing. Given the strong beliefs of our community, our first recommendation focuses on the need to respect creators. We outline ways to respect creators by ensuring they have access to: new ways to share their work; to fair use/fair dealing; to any compensation resulting from copyright infringement; and finally, to a rich public domain. By first ensuring creators have access to the tools they need to create and share in the digital age, we can design a copyright regime that serves the needs of 21st century knowledge and culture creators.
Recommendation #2: Prioritise Free Expression
When asked to rank a list of six priorities for copyright laws in the digital age, the majority of participants in our crowdsourcing process (i.e. 26,894 out of 40,079) selected “Protecting Free Expression” as their first priority.
As a result of this, OpenMedia have outlined, ‘…four components to preserving free expression: preventing censorship; protecting fair use and/or fair dealing; promoting access and affordability; and creating clear and simple rules to govern the sharing of knowledge and culture online.’
The report also highlights the frustration users feel with digital locks across regions and the uncertainty around the legality of browsing various online content.
Recommendation #3: Embrace Democratic Processes
The report discusses the disillusionment felt by the community in the secretive style of negotiation undertaken in the development of the TPP and highlights the need for more transparent legislative and policy development. The resounding view is that outcomes of lobby group advocacy like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the TPP are both inadequate and inappropriate in our democratic societies.
The results of our crowdsourcing process were clear: over 72 percent of respondents wanted to see copyright laws created through “a participatory multi-stakeholder process…that includes Internet users, creators, and copyright law experts.” We therefore strongly recommend that political leaders abandon closed-door processes like the TPP, and instead focus on designing participatory, democratic and transparent forums for the creation of copyright laws that can keep pace with our rapidly changing technology and culture.
From these recommendations, OpenMedia has formed a twelve point policy agenda that makes such requests as no forced Internet disconnections or criminal penalties to the development of user-friendly copyright rules and an emphasis on rewarding creators in their lifetime and enriching the public domain posthumously.
To find out more, read the report!