Finnish websites go dark tomorrow to call for copyright reform

As I've written before, Finland has an amazing grassroots legislation system that allows citizens to put any proposal with more than 50,000 popular endorsements to a Parliamentary vote, and the test-case for it is an eminently sensible copyright reform proposal that has been wildly successful. Tomorrow, Finnish websites will go dark and invite their readers to sign the petition, moving the proposal to Parliament.

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.

Finnish Sites Blacking Out Tomorrow In Support Of Copyright Petition [Greg Anderson/Arctic Startup]

Sign the petition [Finns only]


  1. That’s great, and I really like this part:

    the artist will have the ability to tell their representative organization to stop suing on behalf of their content. 

  2. A minor correction:

    The copyright reform proposal isn’t really a test case for the citizen’s initiative system in any way: the first proposal to reach 50,000 signatures was banning fur farming, which has already been handed to the parliament.

    The second proposal to hit 50,000 is the gender-neutral marriage law, which is still collecting more signatures for a few months before handover.

    The copyright reform is the top proposal still short of the requisite number — and while things look OK (about half the signatures are there now at midway to deadline), there  isn’t any guarantee that it will actually hit 50,000. :/ For some reason eg. the main Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat completely ignored it in their recent coverage of most popular proposals…

    (Now that the initiatives are actually arriving some major parties are backpedaling hard on their commitment to the process, and it remains to be seen how the initiatives are actually processed by the parliament. Some recent interpretations of the law have been stated that would allow burying an initiative in a committee without ever submitting it to a vote…)

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