4. Summary of the proceedings [part one]

After Paul Sturges' Keynote presentation, the Chairman gave the floor to Janine Lorente, Leena Krohn and Tony Bunyan.

4.1. SACD, Leena Krohn, Statewatch

Janine Lorente and Cécile Despringre, SACD, France
The Societé des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques (SACD) was founded 1777 by Beaumarchais, who went on strike because the French Comedy did not want to pay for his plays. Today, the SACD collects royalties for writers, directors and playwrights.

Lorente said she was happy to discuss with people whose only concern is to make culture public. She summarized the position of SACD [on Internet and copyright] as follows: Who can say what the digital information society becomes? The concern of the creative community is to keep the exclusive rights that were in the analog world in the digital world. The law is perfectly adapted to the digital communications. Why should there be new exceptions in the digital environment which were not there in the analog environment? We don't know how far we can control a work that is on a database or in the library, and ensure that it will not be copied to many other sites. SACD is able to manage the exclusive rights in the sense that the public has access to culture. This is achieved by existing arrangements or by agreements with the Ministry of Education. But we don't know what will become of the Internet, so let us rely on what is existing, and adapt when we now more.

The SACD has made an extensive study on the MAI. What is at stake, essentially, is the power of international companies over states and governments. MAI would be the end of our incentives system and of our cinema system, Lorente said.

 No new international treaty on intellectual property is needed in addition to the existing WIPO treaty and the TRIPS agreement. It is also to be said that the artistic intellectual property is not just another commodity or investment.

Cécile Despringre added comments on the different national traditions visavi copyright and author's rights. "What we are trying to do, at the European level, is a directive with very precise exceptions [from the copyright] for quotations, libraries and private copies", she said. The exclusive right of the author is the contrary to the 'work for hire'-doctrine. 'Work for hire' means that a company like MGM or Universal Studio is considered author while the writer or actor is considered a salaried employee.

Janine Lorente and Cécile Despringre brought the text of an Open Letter To The Members Of The European Parliament to the attention of the roundtable. The letter, which has been signed by a number of artists in differenet European countries, warns against including provisions about "fair use" [of copyrighted materials] in the EU Directive on copyright.

[The "Open Letter" is reproduced in Section 7 of this report.]

Leena Krohn, writer, Finland
As a reader, the writer, too, must gain access to information. Each tightening of copyright directly limits this basic right. Leena Krohn compared "the right to read without special licences" to the Finnish "everyman's right to wander in nature and harvest berries and mushrooms from the forests". Krohn also said that "it was a big mistake to extend copyright protection to seventy years".

Krohn mentioned that she has published many of her own essays and short stories on the World Wide Web. "The author has the choice", she said, "to publish free of charge on the web or not to publish there at all." She added that she does not yet know of a practical way for an individual author to charge those who visit his or her pages.

Krohn believes that the electronic book is coming: "Such a book is empty - but it is precisely its emptiness that enables it to contain a library, or libraries. Slightly altering the Finnish poet Mirkka Rekola's words: 'Each day an empty page in front of me. I read it and keep it open'".

[See section "7. Papers, notes and related materials" for Leena Krohn's essay "Hope and Technology", which discusses e.g. copyright from the author's point of view.]

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch, UK
Tony Bunyan shortly presented Statewatch, a charity which works in the field of civil liberties. Statewatch is building a database of public records [i.e. of information which is not copyrighted]. Bunyan related difficulties which Statewatch has encountered when trying to get certain documents out of the EU bodies in Brussels.

4.2. MAI and Libraries

Sinikka Sipilä, Finnish Library Association
The discussion about MAI is now very much in the air among library people. MAI is on the agenda of the EBLIDA meeting in Athens 10 October [i.e. the day after the roundtable]. In June 1998 the British Columbian Library Asociation (June 1998) took a resolution on the effects of the MAI on libraraies. This resolution has been a starting point for the discussion among librarians. According to this document, public libraries could disappear altogether if the MAI is adopted.

[See section "7. Papers, notes and related materials" for Sinikka Sipilä's article on "MAI and the Libraries".]

Andrew Puddephat, Charter 88, UK
While we are discussing access to information on the net, Clinton's political adviser Sid Blumenthal is sueing Matt Drudge (the author of the "Drudge Report" on the Lewinsky affair) AND his Internet service provider for about 30 million dollars. The potential "liability of the Internet provider" is another threat to access, Puddephat reminded.

Puddephat was sceptical about the opinion that the the provisions of the MAI could lead to public service libraries being shut down in Britain. The courts are bound by the European convention of human rights, and maybe soon also by a Freedom of Information Act.

 We are in a series of "global opportunity treaties", such as the GATT, the WTO and the MAI. These treaties are very highly deregulatory, highly anti-state, very pro unrestricted flow of the free capital. But, the context where the MAI negotiations started two years ago, and the context now, where even Jeffrey Sachs [the director of the Harvard Institute for International Development] is calling for a global regulatory mechanism, are very different, Puddephat said. The follies of unregulated capital movements and the threats these impose to the world have been recognized. It is already obvious that this recognition will affect the MAI, too.

 Which are the global structures that we want to safeguard? Which are the concrete policy options to pursue? Blair says he wants to host the summit on this very subject (but we know that his government has no idea on it). The destructive effects of the deregulatory measures to the world economy have created a policy option for new ideas.

The Chairman
"Mikael [Böök] or someone will be making a note on the very concrete specifics", the Chairman added.

4.3. On Fair Use and Library Exceptions

Maurice Frankel, Campaign for Freedom of Information, UK
Copyright legislation, if it is imposed in a very rigorous way, can in fact be incompatible with the freedom of expression and the right to information. Without Fair Use provisions [in copyright legislation] you are not even allowed to describe what it is that you are critizising, Frankel objected to the "Open letter" by artists and writers to the members of the European Parliament".
Janine Lorente
A comment on fair use is that we don't know this in many countries of Europe. The doctrine is totally new to us. It is not fair to compare the copyright in political speeches or official documents with copyright in a book or a movie. And, what is an extract: is it one second, two lines or ten minutes? How about extracts from videos? Barely 10 percent of the authors in Europe get even a minimum salary for their artistic work. Only five among the authors belonging to SACD make their living out of what they write. For authors, it is vital to count on what they can get through any use of their works. One has to be careful with general exceptions.
Paul Sturges
Fair use and library exceptions work pretty effectively in Britain and the US, where they are constantly a source of negotation between the rightholders and the users.

A great deal of public access available at present will be lost in relation to electronic formats according to the draft EU directive. Things that are even more basic than fair use - browsing, for example - will have to go. If you are not allowed to browse you must copy and pay for it. The browsability which is available for books would be lost for electronic resources.

Susanna Broms, The Royal Library, Sweden
The draft proposal is a catastrophy. The draft directive mentions only one exception to the right of the author or the right of owner of the author's right, (who may actually be somebody else than the author himself). The only exception which all member states are supposed to put in their national legislation is the "technical copy". An individual state could still choose to add other exceptions, but this is not a way to harmonize the national legislation.

 In Sweden , we don't have "fair deal" provisions, but we do have copyright exceptions for private use and for libraries, archives, education and museums. Libraries are not allowed to make copies of whole documents.

The draft mentions a new 'right of communication to the public'. This right could have strange affects. If the material is on a database, the libraries would be allowed to copy it, but not to show it. So the librarian would have to cover the PC with a blanket, because to show the material would be 'communication to the public'.

A work may still be copied in order to give access to the blind or deaf. But, an additional clause says that the library must not copy or give access if this can

 infringe the economic rights of the authors or rightholders. It is almost impossible to get through that needle's eye.

Gary Herman, freelance journalist, UK
The issue of libraries is really an issue by itself. We are not talking about the collapse of libraries, we are discussing threats to public service and how to defend the public service values.

For freelance journalists, there is a question of publishing rights, Gary Herman noted.

Irina Krohn, member of the Cultural Committee of the Finnish Parliament
The Finnish parliament gives orders to the government on how it should negotiate with EU. In the case of the directive on the harmonization of copyright, we have said that we want that Finland fights for the same copyright exceptions for libraries which apply to printed books and reviews. I would like to know more about the positions taken by other national parliaments.

I was against the EU Directive which changed the copyright term from fifty to seventy years. I thought that it is against the constitution to take material back from the public domain. The word 'public domain' was not even mentioned by that directive.

The public domain is represented by libraries. In the Helsinki area every inhabitant borrows 18 books per year from the library. To fight for the public domain means to give the library special privileges.

The Chairman
Brian Groombridge (the chairman) noted that, in spite of many differences, "everybody has spoken with various degrees of anxiety".