On December 22nd, the Danish government passed a law that handed the definition of "fair use" with music and movies to industries that have vested interests in omitting the word "fair". It was a bad day for the citizens our government is elected to serve.
Up until that day, the day before the darkest of the year (how fitting!), Danes could pride themselves on having the right to make unlimited copies of original CD's and DVD's either bought or borrowed from friend or public library. It was a good law. It was fair. And it served the citizens of Denmark well.
With the law of late last year, it's now illegal to circumvent any copy-protecting mechanisms instituted by the companies supplying the content. Amusingly, the old law still stands. Only now it's up to the producers of music and movies get to decide when it applies.
This is wrong.
CEO Michael Ritto of the IFPI (the Danish counterpart to the infamous RIAA) tried to consolidate consumers with his "understanding":
"What the law, the minister, and IFPI wants to allow people the right to copy a CD to themselves, the car, the boat, and the summerhouse. We don't have a problem with that. But if we grant that option then it's also possible to make a million copies on the internet — and we can't live with that."
First of all, Ritto seems to imply that law, minister, and IFPI is one entity. Or at least a trinity of equal interests. Oy. If law and minister isn't on the side of the consumer — the citizen — we're in deep trouble as a society.
Secondly, Ritto argues that if a certain right can be used to break other laws then said right should be revoked. That's way out of synch with how the rest of the laws and rights in our society works.
We allow photocopying equipment for practical office and educational use even though it can be used to break copyright by making copies of protected books and periodicals.
We allow VCRs for time-shifting and sharing entertainment to suit our personal preference even though they can be used to distribute protected movies and series for illegal profit.
Devices that can break copyright law in various areas have existed for a long time. Usually to the benefit of the given industry. (MPAA argued that VCRs should be banned in the 80'ies or the death of the movie industry would be a given — today it's a major revenue stream for their members).
This is no different.
We have existing law that prohibits us to make copies of copies and giving or selling copies. That's a perfectly adequate legal framework.
Laws aren't made to protect business plans of yesterday.
If you're a Dane who cares about your rights as a consumer and citizen let that influence your vote at the next election. Punish politicians that aren't serving your interests. Handing the definition of fair use to corporations that have no interest in defining "fair" as anything related to its original meaning isn't about serving your interests.