Tomorrow marks the half-way point of Avoin Ministeriö, or Open Ministry's campaign to make the Finnish copyright law more fair. To help gather enough signatures, Finnish websites are blacking out and leading visitors to sign the online petition in support of a Common Sense in Copyright Law proposal.
"The idea is to follow the model that was in use in the US where companies take part in campaigning when there is an injustice. So the blackout day is a chance for Finnish companies to speak out against this far-reaching copyright law," says Joonas Pekkanen of Avoin Ministeriö.
In the U.S., these campaigns generally ask supporters to call their congressmen or sign a petition to make some noise, but Finnish legislation offers a much more concrete method to effect change. Just over a year ago, Finland amended the national constitution so that any petition that reaches 50,000 signatures must be brought to the parliament floor for a vote. At the time of publishing, this proposal has gathered 26,348 signatures.
Finland's copyright law has been called too far reaching, especially after the controversy that resulted after a nine year-old girl had her home raided by the police and had her Winnie the Pooh decorated laptop confiscated after attempting to download Finnish pop star Chisu's latest album.
The proposal addresses this concern by making small scale piracy a fine, at maximum, rather than its current maximum of two years in jail. By moving down the maximum penalty, the Finnish police would be more limited in their investigation methods - they won't be able to spy on citizens online, or confiscate property.
The remaining main points in the proposal include allowing fair use of copyrighted material for teaching and research, and adds fair use rights for parody and satire, which is unclear in the current legislation.
Artists' rights would also be strengthened, allowing artists to license their works through open licenses. Additionally, if a fan of an artist is being proscecuted, then the artist will have the ability to tell their representative organization to stop suing on behalf of their content.
Many decisions involving copyright in Finland are discussed and decided within a Copright Council, which includes representatives from the old media industries, such as the TV and recording industries. The proposal would also add internet operators, software, and gaming industries into that mix, as the scope of copyright expanding all the time.
Also, the proposal would clear up the language when it comes to personal video recording systems, which will assist startups, like BooxTV, working in this field, and perhaps allow for new innovations in this area.
To make it easier for more sites to hop onboard, HTML5 development agency SC5 has programmed an open source HTML5-script that will make it easy to black out a website and ask visitors to sign a petition. Additionally, a Wordpress plugin has been created.
More information on the Finnish Black Out Day can be found here (Finnish), where startups and other websites can register that they are taking part.
Also, we encourage our Finnish readers to look over and sign the proposal. Finnish copyright law needs an update.
Finland sign on old paper photo by shutterstock.