Copyright and non-commercial reproduction
The ancient dream of compiling all human knowledge and culture and to store it for the present and future is within close grasp thanks to the rapid technological development of the past decades. Like all groundbreaking innovations, it encompasses numerous spheres of life and leads to profound changes. It is our goal to seize the opportunities of this situation and to warn against potential dangers. The present legal framework for copyrights limits the potential of the current development, since it is based on an outdated concept of so-called “intellectual property,” which opposes the goal of a knowledge and information society.
No restrictions on copying
Technical systems which obstruct or prevent the reproduction of creative products (“copy protection,” “DRM,” etc.) create artificial scarcity in order to turn a public good into a private one for economic purposes. The creation of artificial scarcity purely for economic purposes seems immoral to us, therefore we reject these technologies.
In addition, these technologies obstruct the authorized use of such creative products in many ways. They also make it possible to control and monitor users in completely inacceptable ways and jeopardize the ability of future generations to use these creative products, since they might lack access to today’s media devices.
The economic costs for establishing a complete and consistent copy protection infrastructure are also strikingly disproportionate to the achieved economic benefit.
Indirect follow-up costs due to more difficult interoperability of media devices and software further increase these costs.
Free copying and free use
Since the reproduction of digital products cannot be restricted in a technically sensible manner and the widespread enforcement of prohibitions in the private sphere has obviously failed, the chances of making creative products available to the public must be recognized and utilized.
We are convinced that non-commercial reproduction and use of creative products should be seen as a natural process, which does not affect the interests of most originators in a negative manner, despite objections from certain interest groups. No such relationship could be reasonably proven in the past.
In fact, there is a multitude of innovative business models which make conscious use of free availability to their advantage and can decrease the dependence of originators on existing market structures.
We therefore demand that copying, providing access to, storing and using creative products for non-commercial purposes must not just be legalized, but actively promoted to improve the public availability of information, knowledge and culture, because this is a prerequisite for the social, technological and economic development of our society.
Promotion of culture
We see it as our responsibility to promote creative production, especially with regard to cultural diversity. Positive effects of the changes we demand must be available to the fullest extent. If possible, potential but unexpected negative side-effects must be reduced.
Reconciling interests between originators and the public
We acknowledge originators’ personal rights to their products to the fullest extent.
Today’s management of exploitation rights, however, is not adequate for creating a fair balance between justified economic interests of originators and the public interest in access to knowledge and culture. The process behind a creative product usually draws heavily from the public wealth of intellectual creations. The reintroduction of creative products into the public domain is therefore not only justified, but essential to ensure the sustainability of human creativity.
Therefore, a fair framework for the reintroduction of creative products into the public domain must be created. This means, in particular, a drastic reduction of copyright periods, far below the periods specified in the TRIPS agreement.