The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has earlier urged the G20 to “move faster to reach an agreement on reforming the global financial system”. He has also been positive towards a change for copyright earlier. At the last G20 conference he mentioned that the Internet shouldn’t be regulated or censored and that the system of copyright laws needed to be changed. Medvedev took help from the Association of Internet Publishers, Wikimedia Russia and a group of experts in forming a possible replacement for the Berne Convention. The creators of this ‘Moscow Convention for the Copyright’ believe it will be presented at the G20 summit in Cannes, France on November 3-4.
I found this text through Lola Voronina who is the International Coordinator for Pirate Party of Russia.
The concept of the Moscow Convention for the CopyrightThe need to reform the copyright lawThe need to reform the copyright law, under national and international levels is the conclusion, to which the professionals (lawyers, artists, economists and representatives of the content industry) come worldwide. Established in the industrial age, the system of author rights was fully consistent with the way of functioning of the industry in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century but it is no longer corresponding to the digital age. The principles of the protection of authors’ rights that are set out in the main international agreements – the Berne and Geneva Conventions and WIPO Copyright Treaty, – may not be fully realized in an environment where the methods of production, distribution, access and use of the culture have changed under the influence of digital technology and the Internet.In the last few years it’s appeared to be a number of fundamental new ways of communication and collaboration. The basis for economic development is the speed the creation and sharing of works, as well as ease of their revision. Often the product is no longer even and complete, but represents a complex of individual results of intellectual activity, which can constantly change. Basically the whole Internet society has become authors. Anyone who was actively using the network, was creating the protected works, often without knowing it. This led to the fact that on the one hand, the amount of available information became enormous – for one day people create more protectable works, than in all of the XIX century. On the other hand, the commercial value of most of the results of intellectual activity is very low and often non-existent. So the value of the potential actions in protecting them are many times bigger than their value. Usually the authors of such works and do not mean that their creations will be protected, but not making efforts to make the public aware of it or allow to use their works for free.Besides that, the Internet has aggravated the problem of so-called “orphan” works, the search for authors and copyright-holders of which is impossible or requires a lot of effort, so many of these works fall out of the public turnover.To tighten security is the way to a dead endThe conclusions that seem to be logical – the tightening of the protection requirements and increasing of the control over the content distribution – do not stand a technical audit and do not meet the capabilities of the control services, as well as they contrary to the way of life of the digital age people. Copyright law definitely needs be changed, and not by bringing the new restrictions, but by a new understanding of it’s principles.The basic principles of the reformThe basis of a new international convention on copyright should form a realistic and realizable principles, corresponding to the interests of society, protecting the creator law in using the works, and the public’s right of access the culture. Only by following these requirements, the copyright will be respected, and will give the new opportunities for the creativity and social development.To protect the protectedThe state must protect the personal rights of the author (moral and nonproprietary), his proprietary rights of commercial use of his creations, the right of free distribution of works and also the cultural heritage that is in the public domain.The protection of the creators rights has to distinguish the difference between two kinds of rights – proprietary (commercial disposal) and non-proprietary (personal or moral). Personal rights – in particular the right of name, must be protected independently throughout the duration of protection of copyright. Protection of the right of commercial use is provided to the author by the state as a benefit for a limited period of time. The way of protection should depend on the context of the publication and the way of its use. In particular, the use of the product for personal, nonprofit matters should not be a subject to state regulation or any restriction.Registration of commercial exploitation of the worksImplementation of these principles is possible through a reference to historical legal experience, which some countries do have – for example a registration of works designed by the authors for the commercial turnover with the financial rewards to them. The use of the product for personal nonprofit use is impossible to control, because you can only monitor the information which is available. To obtain the material rewards the work should be registered. The registration shall be maintained under the control of the state, which thus learns what works should be protected. Perhaps the paid registration may be implemented, similar to any property registration. The implementing of the registration would solve the problem of “orphan” works, would limit the amount of state control, would make the authors make serious decisions regarding their rights, and will lead to the increase of the information in the public domain.The freedom of usingThe authors, who wish to establish the conditions for distribution of the works, can express their wishes in the form of a free public license. Free licenses for the works, do not imply any material reward for the author and do not require a formal registration, they are recognized and protected by the state. The works in relation to which the authors have not expressed their will in a free public license, or have not registered for commercial use will be deemed to have passed into the public domain.The registration periodRegistration of works to be undertaken for a certain period. This period may be 5 years, as proposed by a joint team of the Green Party and the European Free Alliance, or 14 years as offers the well-known expert on copyright Lawrence Lessig. A specific period of registration may be discussed at a new convention on copyright, but it should be fairly short and manageable. The registration itself may be renewed various times, if the author thinks that the commercial exploitation of the work is still relevant.The deadline for protectionThe registration can not be extended indefinitely and should be limited by the deadline for protection. That may be, for example, 20 years from the date of publication or even 50 years after his death (a period specified by the Berne Convention).The duration of the deadline is the subject of future discussion of specific proposals of the new convention on copyright. However, it is absolutely clear that for the vast majority of the works of art and science embodied in most countries, the period of protection should be reduced – “70 years after his death” in reality means “life inprisonment” for such works.The limit should depend on the format of the work – the same protection for films, scientific articles, computer programs and comments on blogs, is obviously irrational. In particular, this applies to the scientific texts, whose term of protection is advisible to limit to the bare minimum due to the rapidity of changes taking place in science. This will lead to a more rapid turnover and multiplication of scientific knowledge.Support of the public domainThe state is obliged to care not only about the interests of authors, but also about the interests of the society, the state has to protect and support the public cultural heritage. According to the principles of a new convention on copyright, public domain sector will be increased by the works which protection period has expired, with works, non-registered for commercial use and for which the authors haven’t expressed their will in the form of free public licenses, as well as works created at the expences of the government.The state should not allow the reverse transition of the works from the public domain, and should take care of the public domain sector and provide the access to it in a digital form.The transitional periodAfter the adoption of the Convention the transitional period is required, it should last not more than the registration period. During this period the authors and their heirs get the opportunity to register their works for the commercial use, or to dispose them through the public distribution under a free license (if the protection period for the work has not yet exceeded the time limit for protection, approved by the Convention). Otherwise, these works go into the public domain.“Soviet” warrantyRegardless of the prospects and timing of the Moscow Convention on copyright, as an act of good will and caring for the protection and enhancement of the world public cultural heritage, the Russian Federation may recognize that all the works created in the Soviet Union and which economic rights that are currently disposed to Russian Federation, federal services and municipal authorities, as well as other government agencies, or been disposed at the time of changing the form of government, should go into the public domain. In addition, in case that the protection period has expired the work can also be transfered into the public domain.Association of Internet Publishers, Wikimedia Russia and the group of experts