Finnish crowdsource opposition to 'excessive' copyright law that hit nine year old 'pirate'

With 50,000 signatures on a proposal to overhaul Finland's excessive copyright laws, the nation's politicians will have to vote on the matter.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

A Finnish civil rights group that specialises in crowdsourcing its support is seeking 50,000 signatures in a bid to spike a copyright law that is says is alien to Finnish ways.

In just two days the Common Sense in Copyright campaign has gathered over 9,000 signatures, or about 18 percent of the 50,000 it needs to have its proposal voted upon in Finland's parliament.

The proposal seeks to "correct the excesses" of "Lex Karpela", a set of copyright amendments that were introduced in 2005 that the campaigners say is more akin to the US legal system than Finland's.

The campaign is being run by Open Ministry, a "civil society organisation" that uses crowdsourcing to take advantage of an amendment to Finland's constitution last year which introduced the obligation for parliament to vote on any proposal with over 50,000 supporters.

"Lex Karpela has created a policy foreign to the Finnish law system, a one that bears a lot of resemblance to the compensation procedures in the US. The amounts demanded by the plaintiffs are in no relation to the crime committed, the benefit acquired with this criminal activity or the harm caused," Open Ministry said in its campaign statement.

To highlight its claim of the law's excess, Open Ministry points to the recent police shakedown of a nine year-old Finnish girl accused of piracy. Police seized her Winnie the Pooh laptop after her father refused to pay a €600 infringement settlement demanded by Finland's Copyright Information And Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC).

Chisu, a Finnish pop artist whose music the girl was accused of downloading, apologised to the girl and said she did not want to sue anyone.

Open Ministry says it has carefully crafted a set of proposals with input from "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."

Broadly, the group wants Finland to revert to its pre-2006 copyright laws when downloading copyrighted material was a "misdemeanour" and not a crime.

"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," says Open Ministry.

It is also pushing for fair use of coyright-protected material for parody and satire and in teach situations.

Editorial standards