Absurdities of copyright

Have you ever removed the tag with the maker’s logo from your clothing? Then you removed the item’s labelling and that will make you a criminal.

I, myself, do it all the time. If the tag sticks out from the sleeve or from the back- because I do not feel like a walking advert- I remove it. Yet, according to copyright law you are not allowed to.

Below, an interesting example of where the absurd copyright law leads to.

A leather-maker in a small Polish village buys designer bags for repairs. He repairs them, replaces the broken zips, the worn-out parts, the ripped handles…. with the designer logo on them.

He replaces the damaged parts with new ones, but those do not have any logos on them, they just fit according to their size and style. Our leather-maker then sells his items. He advertises himself in the local press, on the internet… He doesn’t earn millions. But he nonetheless leads an economic activity. He pays his taxes, supports his family and…. breaks the law (statute from the 30th June 2000).

Even if one feels sorry for our leather-maker- in the face of the current law he’s a criminal breaking the law on product labeling.

Haven’t we gone a little too far? Is it better to throw away the bag than illegally fix it?
Here’s the dilemma …

Web surfers best know of the embarrassing rules of the copyright law. But the scandal around ACTA showed that it’s possible to express one’s opinion after all. The European Commission has already started its work on the out-of-touch law, and within days is going to present the long-awaited document, which could really revolutionize the way in which we handle copyright laws.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner responsible for the ‘Digital Agenda”, like me, doesn’t like the “monopoly of copyright”.

Copyright law should protect artists, not corporations, and new technologies should not strict access to culture through increasing security, but they should serve all.

Current efforts are using sanctions to protect the copyright, instead of helping to recognize and reward the true value.

I had the opportunity to work with Commissioner Kroes personally in the negotiations on the directive on the harmonization of copyright law in the case of the so-called. Orphan Works, and I really appreciate her determination on this matter.

As most artists cannot make a living with earnings from their work, Kroes draws attention to the current system of remuneration for the authors. Torrent Freak website, citing her statement indicates that 97.5% of German musicians earn less than 1,000 Euros per month. The application of this figure is simple – big publishers make millions and push for fighting piracy in any way possible, not in a way that truly serves artists.

Kroes’ proposal provides a bold change. The proposal places artists at the center of the copyright law and culture development policy. The proposal calls for developing new, creative models enabling artists to reap financial benefits from their art.

Kroes emphasizes the need for a flexible model which will allow platforms, channels and business models to be different and just as innovative as their creators. This is how technology enables artists to reach out directly to their customers no matter their specific tastes or interests.

Therefore, a technology that allows easy access to such goods throughout the world is definitely helpful and should be used.

I am glad that Neelie Kroes recognizes and accurately summarizes the problems with today’s copyright laws and provides repressive [is the law repressive?] ways to protect it.

What strikes me with deep concern is, when the commissioner calls for major publishing houses to re-think their business model in a way which will reflect today’s reality, the latter might be more concerned about the cash flow, even if the measures  strengthen artists and consumers.

“So that’s my answer: it’s not all about copyright. It is certainly important, but we need to stop obsessing about that. The life of an artist is tough: the crisis has made it tougher. Let’s get back to basics, and deliver a system of recognition and reward that puts artists and creators at its heart” as rightly said by Commissioner Kroes.

Most importantly, the artists can be appreciated and adequately rewarded, not controlled by a monopoly of copyright.

With greetings from the European Parliament,

Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg

More about the Digital Agenda:



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