Finnish copyright law might be changed following crowdsourcing support

By EDRi · January 30, 2013

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Deutsch: [Finnland: Volksbegehren könnte bald neues Urheberrecht erwirken |]

People may be able to influence the fate of the copyright legislation in Finland due to a recent modification of the national Constitution allowing citizens to make legislative proposals for the Parliament.

The Finnish Constitution says that a private legislative proposal can be sent to the Parliament for vote if it gets 50 000 supporters within 6 months. Differently from other countries, where a certain number of signatures makes a private proposal be considered and eventually discussed by the government, the Finnish constitutional amendment forces the Finnish government to examine the law, make clarifications if appropriate, and put it to a vote.

A private non-profit initiative called Open Ministry was formed to ensure the good quality of the proposals, facilitate the discussion and collect the signatures for private legislative proposals.

On 23 January 2013, a new proposal called “To Make Sense of the Copyright Act” was promoted in Open Ministry aiming at bringing changes to the copyright law especially regarding Lex Karpela, a 2006 amendment to the Finnish copyright law that firmly criminalizes digital piracy.

According to Open Ministry chair Joonas Pekkanen, on the basis of Lex Karpela, “countless youngsters have been found guilty of copyright crimes and sentenced to pay thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands of Euros in punitive damages to the copyright organizations.”

The proposal, which is now one of the most commented and signed proposals in the Open Ministry, having already reached more than 12 500 signatures, includes the reduction of criminal penalties, defining personal cloud-services and class education as private use and removal of enforcement rights like “one strike” from the law. In addition, the individual uploading of copyright-protected material to the Internet should be reduced to “a misdemeanor”. Also, the proposal would allow the parody and satire of the works and very extensive use of works for research purposes.

According to the 49 999 group that organises a campaign for the bill, “To Make Sense of the Copyright Act” has the simple aim of having “a fair and just copyright law in Finland and “is not a pro-piracy law proposal.” The proposal thus includes also a section, which would require fair compensation for artists and authors in the publishing agreements similarly as the German copyright law already does.

It is possible that the initiative reaches its goal of getting 50 000 signatures by the 23 July 2013 and although there is no guarantee that the Government will actually approve it as such, at least it needs to give proper attention to it.

Finnish campaigners seek crowdsourced change to copyright legislation (24.01.2013)

Finland’s Crowdsourced Copyright Law Proposal (23.01.2013)

Finland is crowdsourcing its new copyright law (23.01.2013)

Finland is crowdsourcing its new copyright law

Lex Karpela

The 49 999 Campaign page

Signature count (only in Finnish)

Open Ministry – Crowdsourcing Legislation (English blog page for Open Ministry)