On Thursday, 19 September 2013 Suisseculture organised an event about copyright in the internet. It took place at PROGR Aula in Berne.
The headline (loosely translated) "Everything free on the Internet? – Legal, Illegal, Who Cares?" stood for a discussion between artists' representatives and politicians. Although admission was free, an amazingly small number of spectators came. In my opinion another indicator that raising awareness among users (not everything in the internet is free simply because it's there) might be key to at least partly solving the problem of internet piracy. Or in other words: If I take a stroll over a market, I don't help myself to goods left and right simply because they're on display.
This point is dealt with in a TV-spot that was shown at the beginning of the happening. Content: "At the baker's I pay for my roll becausehe's worked for it. And if I download a piece of music from the internet I pay for it as well because somebody's worked for it, too."
Originally it was planned to begin with an initial discussion followed by various discussions in small groups and a round table. Because of the low numbers of attendees, the smaller discussion groups were cancelled.
Johanna Lier, president of Suisseculture, gave a short talk in which she highlighted some of the copyright opponents' arguments. One point on her list: freedom of opinion and freedom of opinion procruement are human rights. She countered that getting honest pay for work done is also a human right.
Lorenz Haas of the association of Swiss music lables ifpi didn't only comply a few interesting and (at least for me) sobering facts, he also presented a first draft for a possible and feasable campaign against internet piracy. Among other things, he stated that in 2013 50-70% of all the music downloaded came from illegal platforms. (Unfortunately, no numbers concerning texts were shown. I would have loved to see those.) Lorenz Haas went on explaining that internet piracy is a mass phenomenon, prosecution of individuals ineffective and impracticable. His association suggests a scheme that, depending on each case, will follow a three-step procedure:
1) The warning model (already tested in France and in over 90% of the cases effective)
2) Provider liability
3) IP or IDNS blocking
As an introduction to the following discussion, Ueli Schmetzer asked the participating speakers to present their views and calls. After that the discussion took flight.
On the artists' side were Johanna Lier, author; Raphael Urweider, poet and president of AdS (Authors of Switzerland) Chris Wicky, singer and member of the association of Swiss musicians; Matthias Bürcher, film editor; Hanspeter Müller Drossaart, actor; and ifpi's Lorenz Haas.
Their opponents were Christa Markwalder (National Council), Blathasar Glättli (National Council), Beat Flach (National Council) and Hans Stöckli (States Council).
During the discussion, I often had the feeling the two parties weren't talking about the same thing (with the notable exception of Hans Stöckli). His opinion was from the outset that work – no matter of what kind – deserves pay and thus proved that he understood the artists and was willing to listen to their arguments. The other three politicians seemed willing to reduce the discussion to the topic of the fee payable on recording devices and storage media (like CDs and such). In my opinion, the discussion was never in danger of becoming awfully constructive. One of Christa Markwalder's comments even angered me. She said metaphorically: if you want to be paid, get yourselves more lucrative jobs.
Apart from the TV-spot at the beginning and the two short talks, the evening was not hugely enlightening for me. Nevertheless, I would have wished for more public interest. And, as said before, I think the key to the problem is to remind users that not everything in the internet is free, and that an indictable act is quickly committed. I'd support the three-step procedure as brought forward by Lorenz Haas.