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New Report Finds Users Want Copyright to Respect Creators, Free Expression, and Democratic Rulemaking

Canadian digital rights organization, OpenMedia, released a copyright report today that crowdsourced input from users from around the world. Their survey asked users to express their thoughts about copyright and to determine what issues they would like policymakers to prioritize in constructing innovation policy domestically and internationally. The process took over two years and attracted participation from over 300,000 people in 155 countries.

The result was published today at Our Digital Future, which features the highlights of this extensive study. Hundreds of thousands of users have spoken and they have made three main recommendations to policymakers.

First, users called for creators interests’ to be upheld and respected. 67% of respondents wanted to see at least three-quarters of revenue from the sale of creative works to go directly to artists and creators. They also called for the promotion of new ways for creators to share their work, flexible exemptions to copyright, and rules that encourage a rich public domain.

Secondly, they called for copyright policies to prioritize free expression. Nearly three-quarters of respondents selected “Prioritize Free Expression” as their first priority for developing more balanced copyright. Respondents proposed a four-pronged agenda, including: preventing censorship, protecting fair use and fair dealing, promoting access and affordability, and creating clear rules to govern the sharing of knowledge and culture online.

And third, users called for policymakers to embrace democratic processes. Over 72 percent of respondents indicated that they wanted rules created through “a participatory multi-stakeholder process…that includes Internet users, creators, and copyright law experts.” Respondents denounced closed-door processes that plague negotiations over trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). These users overwhelmingly called for participatory, democratic, and transparent policymaking fora to shape copyright rules.

In short, people want copyright laws to make sense and balance the interests of everyone. At a time when the line between creator and cultural consumer has become blurred, users want copyright policy to uphold our collective rights and concerns, not just those of a separate illusory class of “creators.” Despite how copyright laws both internationally and in most domestic regimes fiercely protect the special interests of Hollywood and Big Content industries, they are not the only ones producing creative works. Their exclusive access to international policymaking negotiations does not reflect the current reality of cultural creativity and consumption online.

This user-driven study is just one way of reflecting our interests, and showing policymakers that the secretive processes of agreements like TPP completely fail at respecting those interests when it comes to crafting copyright policy for the digital age.

Related Issues: 
Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the Balance
International
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – eff.org

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