World is flat
The Luxembourg National Library sees as its mission to preserve and archive old newspapers. They already have a large collection of old newspapers online, dating back to the mid-1800’s. You can search for them, read them (they have this superdreary, really old font and the text is luxembourgian so I can mostly appreciate the aesthetics – of having the train times printed at the top right corner!). Train for Brussels departs at 13:10 on Saturday afternoon. Now. They papers are no longer copyrighted. Other papers are. De Spiegel or Le Monde from the 1950’s for instance. They’re digitizing them as well though, hoping that no one will file a lawsuit (class action? when manymany file at the same time?), and if someone does they’re more or less fucked. So they hope no one cares – he says.
They would need extended collective licenses in two countries: France, and Germany. And Luxembourg and Belgium wouldn’t wrong either, so that’s four. It’s a bit inconvenient for them to manage, so this man was saying it would be easier for them if their activities were legalised by a harmonised European legislation. This is, of course, not possible, because the Union doesn’t really have competence in that specific area. They can only stress competition and collaboration (under surveillance). And this is not possible anyway, because there are no extended collective licenses in France, Germany, Luxembourg or Belgium.
Some time after La Quadrature’s endorsement of Philippe Aigrain’s model of collective cultural sponsorship I thought, people who live in countries where the going has gone really tough, like France, must be more likely to look for a politically feasible quick fix. Philippe Aigrain’s book is not really along those lines, though.
Who will be compensated for what and how are the wrong questions to ask, I think. No kind of fee, tax, flat or not, can be considered compensation. It’s rather about what you want to achieve. You start by setting up a goal, then you work your way there.
There is Flattr, which is rightly considered a very convenient granular financing system for blogs or written material at large. It had the goal of creating a micro-donation system, and the system is widely adapted for almost every blog I know, or care to read, in Sweden.
But more problem formulation:
We know that there is much money in culture. The money is distributed very unevenly. This seems suboptimal if we want a big variety of culture(s) to grow and prosper.
We also know, presumably, that copyright is dead. By analogy, so must related rights be. It seems stupid to perpetuate an uneven distribution of money based on (actually by definition human) rights that don’t exist. So if there is much money in culture it needs to be distributed in a way that is not rights-based. An example of which is… Flattr.
I would boldly state that there is much culture that is not being sponsored by Flattr or its members. Perhaps culture that wont be sponsored by anything Flattresque even. If we’ve been going for a very simple compensation-issue in the past, we’ll be heading for a much more complicated sponsorship or promotion issue in the future. Compensation and remuneration is like… A one-way deal. Sponsorship and promotion can take all sorts of forms. I imagine.
The problems of justice and the solution to all our problems (hark and hear the angels!) are not really my primary, present concern. I know that I’m weak-hearted and soppy and all of that, but licensing issues for archivers are actually a problem. Other statements supporting that claim were, for instance, made at the e-Commons conference in Amsterdam last year. It’s a bit heartless to expect them to collect licenses from each and every individual who’s ever made anything that might be worth saving in an archive or a library. It’s slightly less horrible to create a system wherein which they have to keep track of who’s a member of which organisation and what kind of deal they have with that organisation. The least cruel option is probably making sure there is only the one license that is paid somewhere and then someone else can sort the problem. Librarians and archivers are in the business of librarianing and archiving. It’s good if they can do that, instead of worrying about lawsuits or creating massive databases of potential copyright holders.
I’m not heartless enough to wait for them to go down while we’re waiting for the regulatory revolution in copyright legislation to come. It’s like. It’s here. It causes huge problems. Deal with it.