In an unexpected turn of events, one of the key committees in the European Parliament voted recently to weaken a reform of the copyright monopoly for allowing re-publication and access to orphan works, pieces of our cultural heritage where no copyright monopoly holder can be located. (via European Parliament Blocks Copyright Reform With 113% Voter Turnout - Falkvinge on Infopolicy)
- When a work has gone orphan, it means that it is effectively lost until the copyright monopoly expires, 70 years after the creator’s death. You can only hope that somebody has kept a copy illegally and copied it across new forms of storage media as they go in and out of fashion as the decades come and go, or it will be lost forever.
- The vote in committee on March 1 was supposed to end that (or, more technically, recommend a course of ending that to the European Parliament as a whole). However, the copyright industry lobby won key points in the voting procedure with 14 votes against reform and 12 in favor of it, according to the just-published protocol.
- There are 24 seats in the committee, and one group (non-inscrits) was absent, lacking deputies to fill that person’s vote. So, there should have been 23 votes at the most. But we just counted 12 votes for reform and 14 against. That’s 26 – that means that voter turnout on this copyright reform issue was 113%.
- This rather embarrassing issue was pointed out to the committee, the fact that there were three votes too many, and that these three votes determined the outcome. When this was done, along with formally requesting a re-vote, that re-vote on the points in question was denied.
- “What can I say? There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to democracy in the European Union”, says Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament for the Swedish Pirate Party and member of the committee in question.
- The final kicker here is that the 113-per-cent voter turnout happened in the Legal Affairs committee (JURI), which has the responsibility of safeguarding the integrity and trustworthiness of the legal framework as a whole in Europe. MEP Engström’s assistant, Henrik Alexandersson, called the phenomenon “a temporary form of democratic surplus” in a scathing blog post.
- Many have been asking for proof or documentation beyond eyewitnesses, and the swarm delivers, here in the shape of user JPMH on Slashdot. JPMH writes, “The agenda item starts at 10:27 [in the linked video], 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.”
- Glyn Moody points at the complaint from the Orphan Works rapporteur, Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg, about this. There was not only the 12-to-14 vote on Compromise 20 as mentioned, but also a 13-to-12 vote on amendment 71 and a 13-to-11 vote (still with 23 maximum possible votes) on amendment 32. At least three cases of “temporary democratic surplus”, for which the rapporteur requests clarification. Also, the rapporteur refers to these amendments as crucial.