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European Parliament Blocks Copyright Reform With 113% Voter Turnout 297

New submitter mcmadman writes "In a bizarre turn of events, the legal affairs committee of the European Parliament, voted to weaken a reform of the copyright monopoly for allowing re-publication and access to orphan works. What is surprising is that the voter turnout happened to be 113%. That there were three votes too many, and that these three votes determined the outcome, was pointed out to the committee. Unfortunately, when this was done, along with formally requesting a re-vote, the re-vote was denied."
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European Parliament Blocks Copyright Reform With 113% Voter Turnout

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  • by SecurityTheatre ( 2427858 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @03:21AM (#39374637)

    It's worth pointing out that it's only a preliminary committee. It being voted down in this committee won't necessarily prevent it from seeing the floor the full parliament, but it won't come along with the backing of the special committee.

    There was a member of the Swedish Pirate Party in the committee and he's been the one agitating for a re-vote. The frightening thing about this is that there are only 24 members on this committee and one was absent, so with 23 possible votes, the final vote was 12-14.

    BUT, if 12 people actually voted in favour of the bill, that would leave only 11 against.

    Keep in mind, this isn't highly corrosive stuff.

    The bill is talking about "orphaned works" which are those works that will never again see the light of day because no owner claims them. It is likely that when the copyright expires in 70 years, with nobody to preserve them, or assign their rights to a publisher who can, these works will be completely lost to humanity. This legislation would seek to prevent this and increase the overall value to humanity with NO money lost by putting them in public domain.

    Nobody is arguing that this is a bad idea, but the recording industry lobbies see it as the "sharp end of the sword" when it comes to copyright reform, so they will fight against it vehemently.

    If you live in Europe, write to your MEP. Vote fraud is no joke.

  • by Epimer ( 1337967 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @03:55AM (#39374773) []

    "The Committee adopted the amended Commission proposal and the draft legislative resolution by 22 votes in favour and 1 abstention"

  • by temcat ( 873475 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:06AM (#39374795)

    Recently, the Swiss successfully voted on not increasing the number of vacation days and not regulating book prices.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:16AM (#39374829)

    Yes they adopted the amended proposal. But the vote this article is about is a vote on an amendment, not the adoption of the proposal.

  • by repvik ( 96666 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:19AM (#39374851)

    Falkvinge refers to that meeting i JURI on march 1st. Nowhere in the minutes is the voting results he refers to mentioned. Where are those?

  • Text of proposal (Score:5, Informative)

    by Carthag ( 643047 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:26AM (#39374883) Homepage

    Can be found here: []

    Interesting stuff, hopefully it'll eventually pass. In short, if you do a "diligent search" and are unable to locate a rightsholder, the work will be considered orphan. This is basically an area "between" copyright and public domain; you're allowed to reproduce the work "for the purposes of digitization, making available, indexing, cataloguing, preservation or restoration."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:36AM (#39374925)

    It would be funny if the story was actually true. However, the official press release of the EU parliament states:

    "MEPs (Members of the european parliament) unanimously approved a mandate for Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D, PL), to start talks with the Council to agree reach an agreement on the legislation.

    Ms Geringer de Oedenberg said "This regulation would finally make it possible to get some hidden treasures out of the closet and make them available to the general public. Now it is time to start negotiating with national governments and stand up for our points"."

    So to sum it up, one wannabe journalist/blogger picks up something from an unreliable source, quotes an MEP who didn't even post anything about this "scandal" on his own blog, and suddenly this is big news?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @05:04AM (#39375037) []

    "The Committee adopted the amended Commission proposal and the draft legislative resolution by 22 votes in favour and 1 abstention"

    This is apparently about a vote on one of the amendments to the proposal. The minutes linked in the parent list accepted amendments, but don't give votes on the individual amendments. Similarly, the committee voting records ( see here []) don't seem to include the outcomes. It should be possible to check however, as the meetings are recorded:
    The vote occurred during this session []
    Unfortunately, the wmv sound doesn't seem to work with flip4mac and I get all interpretations at the same time, so I can't check it now.

  • Video of the voting (Score:5, Informative)

    by JPMH ( 100614 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @06:14AM (#39375277)
    Video of the voting [] is available on the EP website. The agenda item starts at 10:27, and the voting runs from 10:31 to 10:51. The amendment in question appears to be "Compromise 20", voted on at 10:39, which is indeed rejected by 12 votes to 14. This was an all-party amendment that the centre-right EPP party then withdrew support from, because they were not entirely happy with the wording, according to one of their MEPs at the start of the meeting. (10:29). As the video shows, the EP tends to machine-gun through amendment votes, which are held in one swoop after months of discussion. You really need the papers for the meeting and your preferred faction's voting guide to turn them into an acceptable spectator sport. One of the extra votes could perhaps have been the chairman's casting vote; but it's not clear how there could have been two.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @06:22AM (#39375299)

    The sad thing is, hundreds and perhaps thousands of films and sound recordings created before the mid 1960's are deteriorating at such a rapid rate that by the time any of this copyright mess ever gets sorted, they'll be gone forever.

    Huge numbers of them are rotting away in vaults, with even well-known films such as Gone With The Wind apparently having to be made from later copies now because the original film masters are basically rotted to nothing.

    Some Hollywood studios have however, invested the proper resources into caring for these historical cultural artifacts. Disney for one, keeps their film stock in better climate-controlled condition than the US Government keeps the Constitution.

    There's a reason movies like Peter Pan and Lady and the Tramp are in the vault for the next 50 years. It was determined that they would create new digital masters of the films and keep the originals stored safely while we wait for better and more permanent storage options to be invented for film transfer - in which case they will make new masters on that storage medium with the current digital masters used to work as a clean copy in case of further film deterioration of the original stock. Then the originals will more than likely finally be destroyed just due to rot and the process of transfer.

  • not a hoax. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @06:36AM (#39375333)

    mods, please see this:
    then mod this down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @06:42AM (#39375351)

    At least transparency is given in the EU. Pretty much every committee session is recorded, streamed live and can be viewed at, and parliamentary debates are open for the public anyway. The problem is just that no one really bothers looking at it, but at least the EU parliament is taking efforts to make their work publicly transparent.

  • Seems unverifiably (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pf0tzenpfritz ( 1402005 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @06:52AM (#39375383) Journal
    While actually everone jumps on the train and covers this story it still seems to be almost completely unverified. The linked article links to a single blog post that does not contain a single link to anything. No protocol. Not even any source that would mention that said vote has happened at all.
  • by JPMH ( 100614 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @07:16AM (#39375457)
    The agenda papers for the committee meeting can be found here [].

    It includes the following documents for this dossier:

    * Text proposed by the EU Commission []
    * Committee rapporteur's draft report, with her proposed amendments [] (1 to 48)
    * Amendments proposed by other members of the committee [] (49 to 170)
    * Opinion of the Culture committee (CULT), and their proposed amendments [] (CULT 1 to CULT 55)
    * Opinion of the committee on the Internal Market (IMCO), and their proposed amendments [] (IMCO 1 to 41).

    Unfortunately there does not appear to be a copy of the "Compromise Amendments", including the disputed amendment in question, "Compromise 20". One of the MEPs complains in the video at the end of the agenda item (10:51) that the text of these were only circulated on the night before the meeting.

    It's not unusual for new texts to appear as heads get bashed together in the days immediately before the actual voting (in fact, it is an essential part of the system); but in this case they don't appear to have been placed on the website, or at any rate I didn't know where to find them.

    The amended report from JURI, consolidating the results of these votes, appears now to have been formally prepared with the document reference A7-0055/2012, though I couldn't find the text of it yet on the Parliament website. This will now go forward for a short debate before the whole parliament, before voting on the amendments proposed by JURI, the amendments proposed by the other two committees, and any other amendments to the Commission text proposed by a sufficient number of MEPs.

  • Re:not a hoax. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @08:15AM (#39375701)

    Apparently it can be seen on the video recording of the meeting (can't watch since I am at work now), but the story is grossly exaggerated. The vote in question was not about the proposal itself, but some obscure amendment where one party still wanted some more discussions on the exact wording. If you see how these comittees usually go through votes on amendments at machine gun speed where every member just looks at his party-approved voting sheet, it's easy to understand that these things happen from time to time. And since the vote was for an obscure amendment to a non-binding recommendation to let someone negotiate on the topic with the commission, then I completely understand that it was just brushed over (even though it shouldn't happen)

  • Re:Math (Score:5, Informative)

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @09:05AM (#39376051)

    Celsius is directly related to Kelvin, just offset so that 0C is the freezing point of water instead of Absolute zero. It's easy to convert between the two, just +/- 273.15 depending on where you're going. 0C - 273.15 is 0K.

    It's the other way around, but yes. Celsius was calibrated to the freezing and boiling points of distilled water, and for Kelvins, they said "hey, that's an easy to calibrate scale, but let's set 0 at absolute zero".

    I believe Fahrenheit has an equivalent called Rankine, whereby 0Ra is absolute zero and the difference between the two is a fixed value, however that does bring the question - what's the point of 0F? What does it represent? Aside from the benefit of having "more" values between boiling and freezing water, is there a benefit to Fahrenheit that Celsius doesn't have?

    0'F is the freezing point of salt water. Which salt water... unknown. It has different freezing points for different salt densities... I think it was supposed to be sea water, but again, sea water has different saline densities depending on where in the world you're taking it from, and also how deep you're taking it from.

    100'F was supposed to be the human body temperature, but it was calibrated against somebody who was running a fever that day. Normal human body temperature is supposedly 98.6'F, but it does actually vary from person to person, depending on their health and metabolism at the time.

    Ultimately, Fahrenheit is a completely arbitrary scale, calibrated to completely unrelated points in nature, some of which aren't reproducible outside of the human species. The reason it still exists is because it was proposed earlier than the Celcius scale, and it caught ground. Also because the only country that still uses it absolutely refuses to consider anything metric, because the French are using it, and that would be wrong.

  • by next_ghost ( 1868792 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @11:17AM (#39377917)
    Text of Compromise 20 (AMC 20) can be found on page 28 of this document [] which I found on publications page of JURI [] under "Votes".
  • Re:not a hoax. (Score:5, Informative)

    by moggie_xev ( 695282 ) on Friday March 16, 2012 @01:07PM (#39379651)
    I emailed 3 of my MEP's and I have received this reply form one

    Thank you for this. No, Andrew was not aware of this matter; but we have since looked into it and indeed discovered that although a great deal of confusion reigned over the vote in question the extra voters appear not to have affected the material outcome. At any rate, as you know, the final legislative votes will take place in plenary and not in committee, and my Liberal colleagues will ensure that we will table appropriate amendments.

    You may be interested, therefore, in my recent proposal to change the rules of procedure of the House to insist on roll call votes at every legislative vote at committee stage (see website).

    Thank you again for writing.

    Yours sincerely,

    Kilian Bourke
    Caseworker to
    Andrew Duff
    Liberal Democrat MEP for the East of England
  • I took part in the vote as a Member of the JURI Committee in the European Parliament, and I can correct you on a few points. The amendments to a report can change its meaning completely, and the amendment that we lost was a rather important one. Therefore it is wrong to say that it was and "obscure" amendment, and imply that it was not important. The report is a legislative report that will turn into a binding directive and then national law once it is adopted, so it is not the question of a non-binding (or "own initiative") report this time.

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!