25 March 2009

Copyright: An Open Letter for Closed Minds

Another impressive line-up of mega-academics denouncing the lack of logic for the proposed copyright extension currently being considered in the EU (I'll be writing about this again soon). Here's Rufus Pollock's intro, setting this open letter in a historical context:

The letter, of which I was a signatory, is focused on the change in the UK government’s position (from one of opposition to a term extension to, it appears, one of allowing an extension “perhaps to 70 years”). However, it is noteworthy that this is only one in a long line long line of well-nigh universal opposition among scholars to this proposal to extend copyright term.

For example, last April a joint letter was sent to the Commission signed by more than 30 of the most eminent European (and a few US) economists who have worked on intellectual property issues (including several Nobel prize winners, the Presidents of the EEA and RES, etc). The letter made very clear that term extension was considered to be a serious mistake (you can find a cached copy of this letter online here). More recently — only two weeks ago — the main European centres of IP law issued a statement (addendum) reiterating their concerns and calling for a rejection of the current proposal.

Despite this well-nigh universal opposition from IP experts the Commission put forward a proposal last July to extend term from 50 to 95 years (retrospectively as well as prospectively). That proposal is now in the final stages of its consideration by the European Parliament and Council. We can only hope that they will understand the basic point that an extension of the form proposed must inevitably to more harm than good to the welfare of the EU and should therefore be opposed.

Do read the letter too: the intellectual anger at this stupidity is palpable.

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