We're taking part in Copyright Week, a series of actions and discussions supporting key principles that should guide copyright policy. Every day this week, various groups are taking on different elements of copyright law and policy, addressing what's at stake and what we need to do to make sure that copyright promotes creativity and innovation.
Ten years ago, a diverse coalition of internet users, non-profit groups, and internet companies defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), bills that would have forced internet companies to blacklist and block websites accused of hosting copyright-infringing content. These were bills that would have made censorship very easy, all in the name of copyright enforcement. This collective action showed the world that the word of the few major companies who control film, music, and television can’t control internet policy for their own good.
We celebrate Copyright Week every year on the anniversary of the internet blackout that finally got the message across: Team Internet will always stand up for itself.
While SOPA and PIPA were ultimately defeated, their spirits live on. They live on in legislation like the CASE Act and the EU Copyright Directive. They live on in the use of copyright filters on major platforms, which exist because the largest entertainment companies insist on them. They live on every time you can’t fix a device you paid for and rightfully own. They live on in the licensing agreements that prevent us from owning digital goods.
We continue to fight for a version of copyright policy that doesn’t seek to control users. That doesn’t serve only a few multibillion-dollar corporations, but rather the millions of people online who are independent artists. That contributes to the growth, not stagnation, of culture.
Each year, we pick five issues in copyright to highlight and advocate a set of principles around. This year’s issues are:
- Monday: The Public Domain
The public domain is our cultural commons and a crucial resource for innovation and access to knowledge. Copyright should strive to promote, and not diminish, a robust, accessible public domain.
- Tuesday: Device and Digital Ownership
Copyright should not be used to control knowledge, creativity, or the ability to tinker with or repair your own devices. Copyright should encourage more people to share, make, or repair things.
- Wednesday: Copyright and Competition
Copyright policy should encourage more people to create and seek to keep barriers to entry low, rather than concentrate power in only a few players.
- Thursday: Free Expression and Fair Use
Copyright policy should encourage creativity, not hamper it. Fair use makes it possible for us to comment, criticize, and rework our common culture.
- Friday: Copyright Enforcement as a Tool of Censorship
Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right essential to a functioning democracy. Copyright should encourage more speech, not act as a legal cudgel to silence it.
Every day this week, we’ll be sharing links to blog posts and actions on these topics at https://www.eff.org/copyrightweek and at #CopyrightWeek on Twitter.
As we say every year, if you too stand behind these principles, please join us by supporting them, sharing them, and telling your lawmakers you want to see copyright law reflect them.