By Heini Järvinen

On 13 May, the Education and Culture Committee of the Finnish Parliament discussed the citizens’ initiative on an update to the copyright legislation.

The main goal of the initiative “Common Sense in Copyright” is to correct the exaggerated interpretations of the current copyright laws, especially regarding network monitoring and compensation. This includes reforming the judicial consequences of small-scale copyright infringement by private individuals. It also seeks to improve the position of artists and other content providers and the development of new services based on online technologies.

The parties opposing the initiative criticised it for facilitating online piracy and violating intellectual property rights of producers of cultural goods, as well as for the inconsistencies in the introduction and the actual text of the initiative.

The parties defending the initiative emphasised that the suggested updates to the legislation would not make Finland a “safe haven to pirate services”, as profiting financially from unauthorised file sharing would remain criminalised.

“If, for example, a person receives advertising income from these services, it would be considered commercial activity, and thus legally punishable,”

explained Ville Oksanen from EDRi member Electronic Frontier Finland (Effi) in the public hearing. “Or if the activity is widespread enough to cause financial losses to the market,” he continued.

A member of the Education and Culture Committee Silvia Modig highlighted the importance of ending the conflict between the two parties, and engaging into a constructive discussion on future of copyright legislation.

The processing of the initiative is complicated by the fact that the Ministry of Education and Culture is currently preparing a legislation package concerning copyright. The consultations for the package are already over, and it is supposed to be handled by the Parliament before the summer break that begins in late June. According to the chairman of the Committee Raija Vahasalo, the citizens’ initiative will be processed properly, however independently from the legislation package in preparation.

In Finland a petition signed by 50 000 citizens entitled to vote forces the Parliament to launch a process to prepare a legislative instrument. The citizens’ initiative law was adopted in March 2012, and the initiative on copyright was the second citizens’ initiative submitted to the Finnish Parliament.

Finland to become a “safe haven to pirate services”? Downloading argued over in the Parliament (only in Finnish, 13.05.2014)
http://www.verkkouutiset.fi/politiikka/julkinen%20kuuleminen%20j%C3%A4rke%C3%A4%20tekij%C3%A4noikeuslakiin2-20397

Full video of the consultation (only in Finnish, 13.05.2014)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CW4SnNHAY4

Citizens’ initiative “Common Sense in Copyright” (only in Finnish and Swedish, 26.11.2013)
https://www.kansalaisaloite.fi/fi/aloite/70

Written statement on the citizens’ initiative (only in Finnish, 12.05.2014)
http://www.slideshare.net/joonastp/kirjallinen-lausunto?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.slideshare.net%2FVilleOksanen%2Fnewsfeed%3Fredirect%3D1

Crowdsourced Finnish copyright initiative meets signature requirement (23.07.2014)
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/13/07/23/0013230/crowdsourced-finnish-copyright-initiative-meets-signature-requirement