back to article EU squashes bogus copyright scare as red-faced Guardian slaps down Wiki's Wales

The European Parliament's largest grouping of MEPs, the European People's Party group, has snuffed out a bogus copyright crusade. The centre-right EPP, which has 214 MEPs, slammed inaccurate media reports for suggesting that new copyright laws would "break the internet". "There is no such EU law on the table and it is highly …

  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  2. Just Enough


    "Wales claims that "Wikipedia only uses freely licensed images", but the site is full of copyright infringement, from books to record covers."

    Amazing what you can prove when taking a statement out of context. Wales was referring to Wikipedia's images of architecture, it being what is being discussed in the article. Not books and record covers

    Images of book and record covers are only used under the US legal definition of "fair use". That means they aren't copyright infringement.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: Wrong!

      However US Law is not Earth Law, nor even UK law (not entirely, anyway) so some of what WP _claims_ as Fair Use is not fair under the law of the land where the image was produced, and it is the latter that actually matters.

    2. JN

      Re: Wrong!

      Wales actually said,

      "Freedom of panorama is the unrestricted right to use photographs of public spaces, without infringing the rights of the architect or the visual artist. Wikipedia only uses freely licensed images. Therefore, this valuable exception to copyright is necessary in order to allow Wikipedia to freely depict public spaces on relevant articles."

      The qualifier you mention ("images of architecture") is not in fact there.

      And the French Wikipedia (remember, there is no freedom of panorama in France today) has a special and well-stocked category of "non-free images of recent buildings" – located atégorie:Image_non_libre_de_bâtiment_récent – exactly what Wales claims would be impossible for Wikipedia.

      It is the same in other Wikipedias: fair use images stay out of Wikimedia Commons, and are instead uploaded in the relevant Wikipedia itself, in line with that project's non-free content provisions.

      The one point I do agree with you on is that the English Wikipedia showing an album cover in an article on that album isn't copyright infringement, but fair use (at least according to US law; in Europe it may be different, and some Wikipedia language versions avoid showing album covers).

      But the Guardian article should indeed receive a second correction. As it stands, Wales' statement is grossly misleading.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copyright extension sucks

    Does the author of this article really beileve that more copyright laws are a good thing for anyone but the media giants ?

    Copyright extension was called the "Mickey Mouse" law for a good reason, and I don't care what tactics the Pirate Party uses - they are on the right side, and Big Media, and this writer, are on the wrong side.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Copyright extension sucks

      This isn't about copyright extension. It's about people campaigning against copyright in general claiming that new rules are coming in to make copyright stricter, when that isn't actually the case.

      And also pointing out that some of the people who campaign agains it (Google for a huge example), have a big interest in weakening copyright as that would be more money for them. So perhaps they shouldn't be given a free pass when claiming to be altruistic campaigners for right and justice.

      I'm not sure about the Mickey Mouse thing. On the one hand, it's part of our culture now. So at some point it should be freely accessible to all. But on the other hand I don't really care, or see that it's doing massive harm to society to pay Disney its pound of flesh for Mickey related stuff. Again, in the case of song-writing copyrights, I want artists to get paid. If an artist dies young, I also don't see why their family shouldn't still get cash. But it seems to have gone too long. And music is much more culturalurally important than Mickey. Everyone sings songs, I'm not sure I care if some people are prevented from making Mickey Mouse mugs/toys/ears/whatever.

    2. Pat Att

      Re: Copyright extension sucks

      I'm not sure why you have so many downvotes. It's almost as if people like the idea of perpetual copyright, which is a stage we are almost at, and heading to it quickly.

      All attempts to increase the term or scope of copyright should be strongly resisted, and this was just another of such efforts, even if it was in the very early stages.

      1. JN

        Re: Copyright extension sucks

        The downvotes are probably because of the phrase "I don't care what tactics the Pirate Party uses." Even if you agreed with the end, it doesn't justify the means. Wikipedia and Wales in particular should not give the public information that is substantially misleading. (This is hardly the first time that such accusations have been raised.)

        The Wikipedia movement professes to be all about education. But when both Wikimedia management communications and Wikipedia content are so full of spin (to the extent that it requires The Guardian to add a substantial correction of fact to an *op-ed*, something that really does not happen very often), you are seeing the opposite of education: an attempt to manipulate the dumb masses.

  4. ratfox Silver badge

    Wikipedia could be enriched greatly if it licensed images. It's a publisher that sits on a cash pile of tens of millions of dollars, raising almost $20m in its December fund-raising drive alone. That could pay a lot of photographers, and license a lot of images.

    Seriously? The issue is that Wikipedia only uses pictures in the public domain, and refuses to license pictures under copyright? Are you suggesting they should do that to support the UK creative industry out of charity?

    I don't see that there's any reason to pay for something when almost the same is available for free. The fact that Wikipedia has in fact money to pay is irrelevant. There are other encyclopedia whose articles are written by paid writers, and that presumably contain licensed pictures. Everybody is free to use (and pay for) them.

    But if you ask anyone in commercial photography what ails the UK creative industry, Wikipedia soon comes up in conversation

    [citation needed]. How is it that Wikipedia is responsible for the fact that everybody now carries a camera in their pockets, and that millions of amateurs are happy to have their pictures show up for free in Google Images? That I remember, Getty has complained about Google, not Wikipedia.

    1. Just Enough

      The point of Wikipedia not using licensed copyright images is also far more fundamental. Wikipedia articles can be republished by anyone using the Creative Commons licence. This is part of the core concept of sharing information.

      If Wikipedia was to include copyright licensed images that would go out the window. The images would only be licensed to Wikipedia, not anyone else.

      Calling for Wikipedia to use licensed images demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of what it's doing.

      1. John Lilburne

        Wikipedia is one great copyright violation. Many of the images are flickrwashed or picassawashed. The articles contain great swathes of copyright violations. Take most of the music Album articles where they have cut and pasted entire reviews from allmusic. Last time I looked one of their main contributors had ripepd off almost 10000 articles from that site alone.

  5. hammarbtyp


    So let me get this right, MEP's dropped an amendment that did not exist.....

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Confused...

      It was an amendment to a European Parliament report. Which they then reversed.

      The European Parliament does not have the power to initiate legislation. Only the Commission can do that. It's one of the oddities of the European system. The Commission and everyone else produce reports and that should all get fed into the legislating process. But the Commission then puts out all the bills. These then go to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, who have lots of fun amending them, before they can be paseed.

      It's all very complicated, and also some of it has changed since the Lisbon Constitution Treaty provisions came into force after the last Parliamentary elections and the new Commission took over.

  6. Anonymous Coward 101

    "How can you tell Jimbo is lying? His lips are moving"

    Did El Reg's lawyer approve that sentence?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I particularly like ..

    .. is the quiet dripping of sarcasm from this article.

    Sorry, but I am getting really fed up with all the crusaders out there. There's never time for a reasoned debate, no, people with a vested interest now always seem to prefer blowing things up to stupid proportions before they go near arguing their case and it pisses me off no end, especially since you then get the crowd of me-too artists who also don't appear to have anything functional between left and right ear.

    So, applause. More please.

  8. jameshogg

    Yeah guys it's not like your right to back up your music CDs can be taken from you at any moment! OH WAIT.

    For goodness sake. It's insane how it is folk who raise the slightest hint of skepticism who get accused of hysteria about this, when copyright cultists go absolutely insane over even the slightest exemption to copyright, saying it will be the end of the world.

    It's almost as bad as some copyright fools who insist insignificant baby-dancing-to-Prince videos must be taken down at the artists whim because passiveness to this sort of thing will "break the int-*cough*-copyright law" and then turn to the campaigns that protest to resist it and ask "just why are you being so hysterical?!" Complete irony deficiency.

    I think it's a good thing how the copyright side aren't even being given an inch on this (well, another inch of millions, anyway). We've already had hysterical claims over the need to charge for news aggregation snippets not even a paragraph in length. Plus furious raids on anime translations websites (the idea that English speakers try to get past language barriers, eh?).

    These are the sorts of people who would claim with a grin and a smirk that websites like deviantArt are mass pirate websites that need to be destroyed "in the name of artists rights" and feel no shame.

    They have lost touch with reality. They believe in a utopia. A utopian world with perfect property rights of infinitely divisible dualistic - not materialistic - mind property. It's the equivalent of believing in JPEG dollars. Ron Paul may want to abolish state currency and have each citizen use private currency in place of "unjust inflation" and the like, controlled privately by private banks, but not even a supremely insane crackpot such as him would dare suggest something like that would work in digital form.

    Yet copyright is a digital private dollar that people genuinely believe can be policed. And we get absurdities such as their right to look into your house in case of infringements only to yell "get off of my property!"

    There's not ENOUGH outrage about it, actually. We need to keep on stressing how ridiculous it is and insist that we have far better ways of protecting the worker's rights of artists - the beauty of the assurance contract economy to solve the free-rider problem the cultists keep banging on about, for instance. Simultaneous payment across all parties secures artists rights in ways copyright cannot dream of.

  9. John Tserkezis

    A slightly different thought on the matter.

    I think it's the media giants that creating grass roots anti-copyright groups with insane demands, knowing full well they're going to get shouted down, with their demands never to be implemented anywhere, anyhow, anywhen.

    That way, the status quo remains, and the media giants get to keep things the way they like it.

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