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Comment Re:VIolation of the Berne Convention (Score 1) 282

The registration is required in order to prevent the collecting societies from collecting royalties on your behalf.

Thank you for the explanation; that's quite different from what the EDRI-gram and Slashdot articles make it look like, and actually similar to what we have in a few other countries (maybe someone can mod you informative). Then the points I made in my earlier comment below become irrelevant in this case.

I'm opposed to the system of collecting societies too, but I'm also living with it, and I don't see that it makes much of a difference with respect to the creation and distribution of publicly licensed works. The members of the collecting societies get an unfair advantage, but the corresponding disadvantage is spread out in such a thin layer over the rest of us that hardly anyone notices.

While the option of registering your work to avoid having some collecting society earn money on it seems appealing, I doubt I'd ever take advantage over it, as that would help legitimize their way of doing business (much like I never "opt out" of receiving advertising I haven't asked for). I prefer to deny them those royalties they don't deserve by avoiding the distribution channels they control instead.

Comment Re:VIolation of the Berne Convention (Score 1) 282

Indeed it seems so, and the draft creates confusion with respect to the rights of foreign authors. From the EDRI-gram article:

It imposes the obligation to notify collecting societies on authors each time they decide to publish their works outside the strict copyright framework.

Leaving the issue of what "the strict copyright framework" actually covers aside, the draft appearantly imposes this obligation on "authors" rather than "distributors", meaning that a foreign author can technically be subject to Czech law merely by allowing his work to be distributed in the Czech Republic. How many foreign authors will bother even trying to satisfy the bizarre requirements of a single country? I certainly won't; I'd rather use this opportunity to ridicule their legal system.

This suggests to me that if this draft ever becomes law, the obligation will instead be placed on distributors working in the Czech Republic, which in the case of domestic works may very well be identical to the authors. That also seems more in line with the purpose of the notification, to demonstrate that the distributor is (or has permission from) the author, not that the author is the author (which is sort of self-evident).

Still, that only deals with domestic distributors (of physical copies or electronic transmissions). How about transmissions originating outside the country and aimed directly at individual recipients, such as radio broadcasts or Internet downloads? Will Czech residents be prohibited from using foreign hosting services (such as SourceForge, Youtube or Wikipedia) to contribute to our global collection of information and culture without also notifying their collecting societies? How will the obligation be enforced, by threat of monetary penalties or denial of copyright claims?

While the law itself may fly under WIPO:s radar, it will be interesting to see when the first foreign "public license" work ends up in any court, Czech or otherwise, for being distributed in the Czech Republic without passing their national clearinghouse or other paperwork hurdles.

I own the copyright to everything I have written. I'd be happy to help my Czech friends throw this piece of legislation out the window, with or without their legislators clinging on to it.

Comment Re:Someone seeing sense at last i see (Score 1) 194

Software patents have never been allowed in Europe

But if New Zealand is joining us only now on that point, how is that a "first" in the face of ongoing ACTA negotiations? The European Union is involved in ACTA too, and I have seen no hint that software patentability (or even patents in general) would be an important factor in ACTA.

I mean, if customs officers can't tell the difference between a fake Rolex and a genuine one, how are they going to tell whether the software in a truckload of laptops is covered by a patent or not? Will they cross-check shipping manifests with the actual contents of individual executable binaries (possibly reverse-engineering them first)?

Comment No "fair use" defense under Swedish law (Score 2, Informative) 470

The American generic notion of "fair use" does not exist in Swedish copyright law. The current Copyright Act (which dates from 1960, but has been amended several times since) instead lists a number of exceptions to copyright which may or may not apply in certain situations; here are a few of them:

  • Making temporary copies for technical reasons
  • Making a limited number of copies for personal use
  • Recording your own performances of protected works
  • Making copies for preservation in libraries
  • Making copies in Braille for the blind
  • Quoting reasonable excerpts for context and critique
  • Depicting buildings and art in public areas

... the list goes on. Some of these situations may be listed in the U.S. Copyright Act as well (I haven't checked), but for those that aren't, I suppose a defense of fair use could be tried.

So, if two people sharing a work electronically falls under the umbrella of "fair use" in Sweden, then there can be no contribution to a crime by the TPB guys.

As long as we discuss "two people", the relevant exception here would be private use (Article 12 of the Swedish Copyright Act). As has been pointed out by AC above, this is a bit hard to claim when someone makes copies for thousands of recipients. However, as the Bittorrent protocol may just as well involve thousands of people making one copy each for another person, I'd say this defense would actually have some merit, depending on other circumstances. If everybody is allowed to make a single copy, you can't prosecute a thousand people for doing exactly that just because the net result is the same as if one of them had made all the copies. Neither can you prosecute someone else for contributing to a collective act which itself doesn't constitute infringement.

However, this particular defense happens to be moot in the TPB case, because the prosecutor dropped the "contributing to the making of copies" charge already on the second day of the trial. The charge that remains is "contributing to making works available to the public", which is a different kind of infringement, and that does not come with an exception for private use!

This still doesn't mean the TPB guys will be found guilty, because it's the "contributory" part that seems difficult to prove. Making works available to the public, that's traditionally what a radio station may do, and the kind of "contribution" to that which would correspond to the Pirate Bay is to publish lists of radio stations, their frequencies and broadcast schedules free of charge. And one of those radio stations may actually be operated by King Kong in Cambodia, who hasn't even been called to the witness stand. Illegal or not? The court should tell. Will the World Radio & TV Handbook be next?

Comment Telephone = broadcast radio (Score 2, Insightful) 504

Well, some of us grew up at a time when the phone was considered a private communications medium, using land lines only. Then came group teleconference calls and mobile phones, letting an arbitrary number of people listen in on the conversations. Add government surveillance to that, and you may just as well have your "private" phone conversation at the town hall, in front of the city magistrate. It's not a telephone anymore, it's a broadcast radio station, optionally tied to some wall outlet.

While I do have two phones, one land line and one mobile, I haven't used them for talking to anybody since January 1, when the new signals intelligence act took effect in Sweden. The government may now legally listen in on any communications transmitted via the airwaves, whether groundbased or satellite, and from October 1 they will be able to demand a live feed from any carrier transmitting signals in cable across the national border. Since I can't tell whether my particular phone calls are transmitted in the air or across a national boundary (we have lots of those in Europe, and carrier networks spanning multiple countries), I consider myself subjected to a permanent wiretap.

I'm already off the subscriber directory, and I plan to cancel my landline subscription before October 1. I used up the remaining money on my mobile phone card on New Year's Eve, and now the phone itself only serves as an alarm clock (I normally leave it at home, bringing it with me only when I go to the middle of nowhere if I think I may need to make an emergency call).

I still have Internet, but I have no expectation of privacy, and I plan to use encryption more regularly - not that it will bother the spooks, but it will send a message to family and friends trying to get in touch with me.

I don't mind stating my point of view in public - but sometimes I do want to discuss matters which are nobody else's business. When telecommunications services fail to deliver what I want, I'll resort to paper and sealed envelopes.

And I recall that I have a three-digit Slashdot id too. What a coincidence.

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