Open Ministry has facilitated the crowdsourcing process to change the Copyright Law in Finland
Open Ministry is a civil society organization aiming to crowdsource the way laws are drafted. It was founded in spring 2012 on order to help citizen movements and CSO’s to influence what kinds of laws are passed in Finland. Since the Citizens Initiative Law and the Constitutional amendment came into force on March 1st 2012, all law proposals that gather 50,000 supporters are passed to parliament.
Open Ministry has been involved in a number of citizen initiatives by helping draft laws and design campaigns, for example, to ban the farming of animals for their furs, to legalize same-sex marriages, and to change donation laws to allow crowdfunding projects.
The initiative to change the copyright law was suggested to the Open Ministry by a street artist called Sampsa in October 2012. We helped bring in volunteers to work on the project and to gather expert advice and opinions. During the drafting of the law proposal more than 30 influential people from the cultural, corporate and academic sectors joined to endorse the campaign publicly.
All stages of the drafting of the proposal have been open to the public for comments and additional ideas on the Open Ministry platform and active comments have been asked for from countless experts and copyright organizations. There is widespread agreement, that the Finnish copyright law is too strict and allows for excessive infringements of privacy and penalties.
The case of the confiscation of the 9-year old girls Winnie the Pooh laptop in November 2012 made headlines internationally, but was only a tip of the iceberg. Since 2006 when the current copyright law came into force, countless youngsters have been found guilty of copyright crimes and sentenced to pay thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands, of euros in punitive damages to the copyright organizations.
This crowdsourced law proposal suggests several changes to the current copyright law including allowing the fair use of copyright-protected material for parody and satire and in teaching situations and impriving the situation of freelance artists. It is not a pro-piracy law proposal. However, it does suggests that the individual downloading of copyright-protected material from the internet should be a misdemeanor - and no longer a crime. This is actually what the law in Finland was until 2006. It is also in line with the international tendency, for example, in countries like Holland and United Kingdom, to alleviate the overly strict copyright regulations.
Open Ministry hopes that, in the spirit of deliberative democracy, this grassroots initiative will spur public discussion and continue to gather support and media attention. We can no longer afford to stand by and allow the corporate copyright lobbyists to dictate what is considered fair and legal. Now is the time for the people to unite, be heard and demand a change through the democratic means we have been awarded.
Chairman, Open Ministry
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