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Punters hate copyright, says Steelie Neelie

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Since current attitudes to copyright enforcement are failing artists and alienating the public, “we need to stop obsessing” about it, according to European Commission VP for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes.

In a speech given to the Forum D’Avignon on Saturday November 19, Kroes looked underneath the high-profile rich artists trotted out by industry strong-arms, noting that “97.5 percent of one of the biggest collecting society’s members in Europe receive less than … 1,000 euros a month for their copyright works.”

In that context, Kroes said, copyright as it now stands is failing to deliver the economic rewards that are supposed to be its aim. At the same time, “citizens increasingly hear the word copyright and hate what is behind it. Many see the current system as a tool to punish and withhold, not a tool to recognize and reward.”

Even where models new legislative models are proposed, Kroes said, there’s no way to test them: “Too often, we can’t try them because of some old set of rules made for a different age”, which means that in the EU, proposals such as the extended collective licensing practiced in Scandinavia are “killed before they can show their merit”.

Kroes nods towards the computer business, saying that IT doesn’t just offer a cheap and direct connection between artists and audiences, but also offers the only hope for a global repertoire database, and transparent processes to identify how revenue should be distributed. Similarly, cloud computing “will certainly raise new questions about how licensing should function”.

In the context of the public’s increasing resistance to punitive measures such as America’s SOPA, New Zealand’s three-strikes disconnection notice regime, the acrimonious “iiTrial” in Australia (backed by the MPAA via its local sockpuppet AFACT), it’s also interesting to note that Kroes mentions the intermediary business just once in her speech – since, at least to The Register, it seems that most of the public’s hatred of copyright appears to stem from how the intermediaries approach it.

Perhaps a focus back on the artist wouldn’t be such a bad thing. ®

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