German Green Party Defends P2P Legalization Tax

A “culture flatrate” would be used to compensate copyright holders in exchange for legalized file-sharing, the fee presumably based on a user’s connection speed with an exemption for those who can’t afford it.

The German Green Party has been discussing a “culture flatrate” for a while now. The idea is to present a third option to solve the problem of illegal file-sharing that protects the rights of the accused while ensuring copyright holders are properly compensated.

”In my view two positions don’t have a future,” said Helga Trüpel, Green MEP and vice-chair of the Committee for Culture and Media in the European Parliament, this past April while first introducing the proposal. “One is the ‘everything for free’ attitude towards creative works on the internet. It does not answer the questions of how to appropriately remunerate authors in the digital age and how a knowledge society based on creative content can reproduce itself. But I am equally opposed to the French model in which, without judicial due process through a new government agency, after two warnings users’ internet access will be suspended.”

The Green Party is now defending the plan with critics, some of whom call the plan a form of cultural socialism.

Malte Spitz, a board member of the party, said there are no “final numbers” on the monthly fee amount and that it would be “dependent on various factors.”

Internet connection speed is one of the factors being proposed, apparently since you have the potential to download or upload much more content I suppose.

“Needy” users, the economically disadvantaged, would pay no tariff at all.

The Green Party says the real purpose of a culture flat-rate is to “cure a collision of basic rights” between compensating artists and “respecting the right to informational self-determination and the privacy of telecommunications.”

The only real problem is that implementing a “culture flatrate” would require a change in German and European Union copyright laws.

It’s the reproduction right of downloading would be covered by the existing exception for non-commercial private copying.

It’s the “making available” right, i.e. uploading, that would require legislation since no exception exists. It would require changing German copyright law which, being ruled by European law, would require changing the EU Copyright Directive of 2001.

Moreover, I like the plan of taxing Internet connections in order to compensate copyright holders, but the amount is what concerns me. German Federal Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries mentioned an insane figure of 50 euros ($71.06 USD).

I don’t think people would be willing to pay more than $10 bucks a month, at least here in the US, and it’d have to go towards all copyright holders not just one particular industry.

Stay tuned.

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[ via P2PBlog]