Rick Falkvinge reports
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is no dismissible small player. It is the court that oversees the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which is part of the Constitution of the European Union and of most European states. When this court makes a decision, that decision gets constitutional status in all of Europe … it declared that the copyright monopoly stands in direct conflict with fundamental Human Rights, as defined in the European Union and elsewhere
Those pesky Europeans have been a thorn in the American record. movie and software industries’ sides for decades, once forcing Microsoft to unbundle Internet Explorer from Windows as it was deemed anti-competitive. So the decision that sharing is a Human Right will have far reaching consequences.
Be careful interpreting this verdict as a free-for-all. It’s not. What it says is that violating the copyright monopoly laws is not enough for a conviction, and that the copyright monopoly laws collide with Human Rights. Those are two huge wins in themselves. But it doesn’t mean nobody will ever get convicted for sharing culture again – just that courts have to justify why a conviction is also “necessary in a democratic society”, in addition to having met the normal and previous bar for a conviction.
When laws collide, the most basic fundamental Human Rights tend to trump all others. So this lays the groundwork for a process where Copyright is eroded over the next number of decades we we come to terms with a society where copying and sharing is as natural an act as breathing.
In closing, rick says (The phrase “sharing culture” means, music, books, movies, etc — Pete)
This means that people can no longer get convicted for violating the copyright monopoly alone. The court just declared it illegal for any court in [the] Europe[an Union] to convict somebody for breaking the copyright monopoly law when sharing culture, only on the merits of breaking the law.
A court that tries somebody for violating the copyright monopoly must now also show that a conviction is necessary to defend democracy itself in order to convict. This is a considerably higher bar to meet.
I am happy to see that people persecuted for sharing culture and knowledge all over Europe got this quite strong judicial decision in their back. I’d love to see the copyright industry lobby try to make a case why it is necessary to defend democracy to convict a single mother of three who shared pop songs.