New copyright law in Germany

By EDRi · September 10, 2004

Today, 9 September 2004, the German minister of Justice presented a cornerstone-paper on the so called ‘second basket’ of copyright regulations, implementing the European Copyright Directive (2001/29/EC).

The cornerstone-paper defines a clear right to make private copies, even when ordered by a third party, and does not require the original to be legal, though ‘downloading works that are apparently unlawfully distributed’, is not allowed. Also, in spite of rumours before the release, there are no plans to give rights-holders the power to demand name-address data from p2p-users from internet providers.

As generous as that might seem, the German digital rights organisation NMN has issued a brief statement complaining about the fact that the regulation will not allow people to make a private copy if the material is protected with technological measures.

“It is kind of absurd to talk about a right to make private copies in the cornerstone-paper, if there is no chance to exercise that right in reality. Since CDs come with anti-copying measures, a written down law doesn’t help the user, if the disabling of copyright protection of these CDs is outlawed at the same time”, says Markus Beckedahl, Chairman of the Network New Media. “Here, in our opinion, we need corrections to maintain and extend the right to private copies for consumers in the digital world .” Beckedahl continued.

Another hotly debated issue in Germany was the proposed expansion of copyright levies to include hard disks. The ministry of Justice has now decided that “each device will be charged with a levy, if it is actually used for a considerable extent to make copies.” CT quotes the Minister, Brigitte Zypries, that this means a CD-burner will be charged, but a digital photo camera probably not. The phrasing is very flexible, and leaves it to equipment manufacturers and copyright holders to determine exact pricing schemes in a self-regulatory setting. The Ministry of Justice has now given them 6 months time to work out an acceptable solution for hard disks, after that a court is appointed to mediate.

Brief statement NNM (in German, 09.09.2004)

Long explanation in CT (in German, 09.09.2004)

(Thanks to Markus Beckedahl, EDRI-member NMN)