Confused Politicians on Copyright

Without being too cynical it is easy to see that politicians are struggling with online copyright violation. Even the terminology is confused – copyright violation is too difficult and most people will talk about file sharing and thereby confusing technology with law.

In Sweden, where computer literacy is high and fixed price broadband is the norm, intentional copyright violation through filesharing is rife. In addition to this the moral concepts surrounding these acts have been fundamentally re-interpreted. Due to its relative ease, low cost and widespread acceptance – illegal file sharing is not considered by many to be morally wrong. Some not insignificant numbers also argue that it should not even be illegal.

Naturally politicians are concerned. Not all are cynically using the debate to forward their own popularity – some are sincerely concerned about the rift between law and morality in this question. Swedes, believe it or not, are a rather moral bunch. Sure we have reputations for free sex, expensive alcohol and high suicide rates but this is no longer a true picture if you compare Sweden to the rest of Europe. What I mean by being moral is that Swedes are relatively honest and prefer not to cheat – so when the rift between morality and law is apparent it is a greater reflection of a problem in Sweden than in some other countries.

So the Pirate Party wants to abolish copyright, The Swedish Left Party recently decided to strive to legalize online file sharing. Now the Centre Party are calling for change in a recent report by their spokesman on Copright Annie Johansson (report in Swedish Pdf) on the future of copyright.

Their report is interesting in that they want to attempt a re-evaluation of copyright in order to make it into a fair balance of rights. The report is also heavily influenced by the concept of Fair Use and the Creative Commons system which is good on the one hand but unfortunately the concepts are misunderstood in the
report. The fair use system is not easily applied in the Swedish concept due to different legal cultures and histories. And the Creative Commons licensing system cannot go beyond the legislation in hand.

Are politicians weary about talking to experts?

Despite these minor misunderstandings there seems to be growing political will to discuss the purpose of copyright. This could become very interesting.

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