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German celebs fire at Pirates over copyright
Photo: DPA

German celebs fire at Pirates over copyright

Published: 11 May 2012 09:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 May 2012 09:07 GMT+02:00

The letter, to be published in major weekend paper Die Zeit, is an indirect attack on several political parties who have responded to the rampant success of the Pirate Party by announcing initiatives to relax copyright law when it comes to the internet.

The letter had 100 initial signatories, including writers Charlotte Roche and Martin Walser, author and musician Sven Regener, and veteran actor Mario Adorf.

The letter describes copyright as an "historically won civil right" and the "material basis for individual intellectual creativity." It also challenges the argument that the interests of copyright holders and so-called "hosts" - i.e. publishers, record companies and royalty collectors like GEMA – are automatically at odds.

This is a rejection of the view of some internet activists, that artists should bypass such companies and sell their work directly to consumers.

German artists have been campaigning against the political inroads made by the Pirate Party more vociferously recently.

A similar letter by 51 scriptwriters from Germany's long-running cult detective show Tatort accused the "internet community" of attempting insert a culture of "everything for free" into German law.

Several artists also took out an advert in financial daily Handelsblatt in which they appeared under the slogan "My head belongs to me."

Much of Germany's creative community was also galvanised by a March radio interview by Regener, singer in the band Element of Crime, in which he ranted against the Pirate Party.

Christopher Lauer, spokesman for copyright issues in Berlin's Pirate Party, responded to the artists on Twitter, "Regardless of how little we agree with the campaign in Die Zeit, we have to take it seriously. We need to reach out."

But Leonhard Dobusch, blogger on netzpolitik.org was less understanding: "the attempt to suggest there is a unified front between copyright holders and hosts," only proves that "that this unity is breaking down."

The Local/DPA/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

09:38 May 11, 2012 by murka
I am sure all signees of the letter have their reasons. The pictured, Ms Roche has a family media business (Brainpool, Viva) and Mr Adorf gets his checks from Gema. (Frankly, is anybody interested in pirating Mr. Adorf's creative works? His interview on youtube has been viewed whopping 540 times.)

The Pirates' electorate live on the other side of the tech revolution. They keep away from inconvenient physical carriers (so called DVDs and, ehkm, Blueray, I guess?).

So instead of whining and insisting on the ridiculous old models where the biggest winners are Gema/Riaa executives, these artists need to take a good advice on how to make money in the new world.
10:19 May 11, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Never heard of those two in the picture. Maybe they should embrace the internet and increase their exposure. Maybe this is just a case of wanting to stick to the same old fashioned status quo in order to protect their little market share. Cannot be bothered with moving with the times.
10:24 May 11, 2012 by bartschaff
I first learned of the disgusting GEMA, but failing to watch videos on youtube (available everywhere else in the world, but not in Germany). From wikipedia:

"Music videos for major label artists on YouTube, as well as many

videos containing background music, have been unavailable in Germany

since the end of March 2009 as GEMA sought to raise its fee charged to

Youtube to 12 euro cents per streamed video, a fee a Youtube spokesman

described as 'prohibitive'."

A still better example of 'fairness' by these parasites:

"In Germany, case law has established the so-called GEMA Vermutung, a

presumption that works are managed by GEMA due to its monopoly

position. As such, in Germany the burden of proof is on the accused

infringer that the work is not managed by GEMA."
13:38 May 11, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
@ murka

The Signees have their reasons?? Artists are entitled to be recompensed for their work. The Pirates are a bunch of spoiled children who feel entitled to anything they can take for free. Downloading copyrighted material without paying is exactly the same as swiping something from the supermarket without paying for it. You should not take anything until you PAY FOR IT. Think the price is to high? Then either refuse to buy or find something else at a lower price.

This kind of debate is amazing. If it ain't yours it isn't yours for the taking unless you pay for it. Duh!
13:55 May 11, 2012 by murka
@ Mr. Wonderful:

The debate in article is about old ways vs. new ways. No matter how loud is the whining, these people are not going to move their ass and go buy a physical DVD, then go to Mediamarkt and buy a DVD drive/player which they probably don't have. They will obtain the content on-line. Is GEMA and Co. providing any legal solution for this group? The answer is no. Just look at these suits:

https://www.gema.de/fileadmin/user_upload/GEMA/Organisation/Mitarbeiter/Rainer_Hilpert.jpg

https://www.gema.de/fileadmin/user_upload/GEMA/Organisation/Mitarbeiter/Harald_Heker.jpg
14:09 May 11, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
@ murka

Its not GEMA's job to provide solutions. Their primary job is to protect content. Its up to artists to offer their work in ways that would make them more money. If less content is sold because it is only offered in "old ways" so be it. But it excuse stealing because content isn't offered on the latest format or your preferred format is disingenuous and wrong.

As an artist I'm not in agreement with everything GEMA does but I support it fully in blocking unauthorized downloading of creative content.
14:32 May 11, 2012 by murka
Mr. Wonderful:

I disagree, it is GEMA's job to provide a suitable licensing for digital outlets. However, they chose to be Mr. No (see Youtube). Even the U.S. copyright mafia is more flexible.

If Mr. Adorf claims that his head belongs to him, he should go to Mitgiledversammlung and demand Mr Heker to do his job or quit.
15:25 May 11, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
@ murka

Its not a question of who is more flexible, its a matter of who owns the content. If Youtube won't pay a fair royalty to use it, too bad for them. Maybe they should rethink their business model instead of abusing content providers as Spotify does.
16:40 May 11, 2012 by murka
A nice bit from their annual report:

The annual salary of GEMA Vostand (2011, Eur) - 3 guys:

Dr. Harald Heker 484000

Rainer Hilpert 332000

Georg Oeller 264000

Paid pension to previous Vorstand: 554000

Deposited toward pension of Vorstand members: 2844000
18:26 May 11, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
The issue is not the salaries of GEMA staff but whether content providers should pay a fair fee for the content they use. A lot of us think they should no matter what salaries GEMA executives command.
21:31 May 11, 2012 by MeinSchwanz
Oh man, they made money working their jobs, they must be bad!

How mush did Kim Dotcom make? He must be really bad. oh, wait, It isn't him that needs 'advice on how to make money on the new world', no.
22:55 May 11, 2012 by murka
What jobs? C'mon guys, a fat-cat without any qualification (laywer isn't really a qualification) leeches half a million Euro annually from the artists while epically failing in the digital field. The physical carriers will be gone in a few years, and you will still be paying for Mr. Heker's pension.
08:47 May 12, 2012 by catjones
@Mr. Wonderful...how much did you pay to read the article you're commenting on?
10:10 May 12, 2012 by mitanni
"As an artist I'm not in agreement with everything GEMA does but I support it fully in blocking unauthorized downloading of creative content."

Ah, so you favor totalitarianism? Because that's what that statement amounts to: reliably blocking unautorized content would mean prohibiting all data protections and privacy protections on the Internet. Why don't you learn something about the technology before you make such statements.

Furthermore, GEMA and similar organizations collect vast amount of money from fees that have nothing to do with copying your content. I have always paid for all content that I use, yet I'm still forced to pay hundreds of Euros a year to these people, money that is then paid out to German "artists" whose creations I loathe.

Finally, yes, people increasingly have an expectation that content is free on the Internet, and why not? Artists themselves have that expectation: you use vast amounts of free software in your work and daily life, yet you are so arrogant that you don't even recognize that software as creative works. But the scribblings and doodles of the vast number of third rate German artists are supposed to deserve large amounts of funding mostly based on government subsidies and coercive fees? I don't think so. You can keep the government subsidies, but stop talking about copyrights as if you actually created anything of intellectual value. Leave the copyright discussion to those people who actually do, namely scientists, engineers, and software developers.
13:21 May 12, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
@ catjones

The article I'm commenting on is offered for free and supported by advertising.

@ mitanni

So my music has no intellectual value because is wasn't created by a scientist, engineer or software developer? What a confused and arrogant d**k you are.
15:12 May 12, 2012 by catjones
'Ownership' of Art is ambiguous at best and that is precisely the issue. The painting I see in a museum is the same painting I see if I 'owned' it myself. The music I hear on the radio is the same as the cd I or you 'own'. If I copy 'my' cd onto my computer, that's ok, but if I copy it to yours; it's not. If I copyright my comment and you copy and paste it elsewhere, there is no copyright 'police' I can go to as there would be with a theft, but only the courts with their high costs and dubious outcomes. The courts themselves have not kept up with technology.

Those commenting here live in a simple world, a static world, a binary world.
15:33 May 12, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
The ownership of Art is not even slightly morally ambiguous. I created my music and the entire benefits derived from its performance should accrue to me only. Technology has found ways to cheat artists of their rightful benefits and performance rights organizations function imperfectly to shore up those rights. In todays world its become easier to cheat artists and if you want to try to justify that just keep on blowing smoke about simple and static worlds and how sophisticated folk know better than to pay artists for their work.
20:00 May 12, 2012 by Deutschguy
So, if an architect or an engineer comes up with a unique design, on which they have worked months or over a year on, then any idiot can copy it and post it, and the originator gets no payment for his work.

A commentary on this site is not protected. You deserve no compensation for posting here. Not at all the same.

This idea that there is "new" and "old", and people should not be paid for their work is baloney. If that's the case, then all of you who support that view, should go to work and not accept a paycheck for the hours you spend laboring at your workplace. It's the same thing.
23:49 May 12, 2012 by narfmaster
The problem with copyright is that it lasts practically forever. Why should it be illegal to download music from 40 years ago? Drugs are off patent after a limited time, usually something like 7 years. The point of patent and copyright was to have government protect creators for a limited period of time so that they could be compensated for their work. After 10 years of selling, some would argue even less, you as a creator should feel compensated. After all, who else goes to work one day and then gets paid for 40 years for that day's work???? That's obviously not fair.

As to who gets the money, most of the money doesn't go to the artist anyway. The bulk goes to the media companies, sometimes only the media companies. Want to watch any classic Disney films, like Peter Pan? Any money you spend goes to Disney. You can be sure the animators are not still getting paid for drawing all of the frames of the picture. But then again, Disney paid them a salary, so they have nothing to complain about.

Put another way...If I download Peter Pan, who gets hurt? Not the animators, who were paid years ago and may in fact be dead. Disney? They've already made tons of money on it. You see, it's not the same as stealing someone's car. Then someone is hurt. If I watch the film, Disney doesn't have anything taken away. Copying is not the same as taking. And the work has already been paid for.

Content providers have had less and less incentive to create something anyone wants to buy. It can be seen in the quality of the films and music of today. These companies can sit on their butts and make money from work done 20 years ago. Why would they want to work hard to make anything worth watching/listenting to now?

At the end of the day society needs to decide how much this content is worth. Is someone singing for 5 minutes worth more than a doctor's 5 minutes of work? I don't think so. It's definitely not worth millions, nor should there be a massive conglomerate in the way collecting the money. Downloading media is one way of righting the pay discrepancy, either by allowing people to acquire freely content that should be free, or by paying artists directly for their work without the middleman. The system is broken and this is one way to deal with it.
02:42 May 13, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
@ narfmaster

The the general ignorance on this board about artists and the arts is startling.

Do you really imagine that a musical performance in the studio or at a concert comes into being without any preparation? This kind of attitude is not surprising when you realize the misperceptions that exist among the general public about the length of education study and preparation most musicians/artists endure before he or she even considers beginning to make their own contribution

And you have it wrong about where the money goes. Since I'm self produced the majority of the money I make goes directly into my pocket. After taxes of course.

Its astounding how many people think that musicians just get up and sing because they have talent or that artists just start painting masterpieces without any effort. Each performance is the sum total of a lifetime of study. I have spent more time on my education than most doctors spend on theirs. It may take 5 minutes to record one track but the years or lessons and daily practice that went into that performance deter most people from from considering that amount of investment and effort.

And, by the way, who are you to decide what is fair for creating something that only I can make? At the end of the day I would argue that the term of copyright protection should be greatly extended. With modern technology discovering ever more ways to rip off my hard work society needs to protect artists who are responsible for the best that our civilization has to offer and without which it cannot survive. Human life without song, dance and and the rest of the creative arts and the artists that labor seriously in those fields (many times at near subsistence levels) would be a tragedy.
10:30 May 13, 2012 by AlexR
@Mr. Wonderful:

"Its not a question of who is more flexible, its a matter of who owns the content. If Youtube won't pay a fair royalty to use it, too bad for them."

I agree but what could it be a "fair" royalty fee? GEMA demands 0.12€ per track which translates to 120,000€ for every million music streams. I contrast, the British PRS, gets 0.0027€ per track or 2700€ for every million streams.

So why GEMA is almost 50 times more expensive than PRS? And why in most of the other countries the local royalty collectors cooperate with Youtube without a problem?
10:35 May 13, 2012 by catjones
Apparently, not so Wonderful....sounds like sales are down.
12:17 May 13, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
You're d*mn right they're down, for me and a lot of other artists. Spotify and the other mafia that plays my stuff only pays me .01 cents per play directly affects my standard of living. Why should anyone pay a fair price for music when they can subscribe to a service that lets them choose exactly what music they want to hear for far less than buying my music on itunes? Does society want a playing field where only the MacDonalds of the art world can survive as full time artists? If Lady Gaga has a big pop hit which makes less than $200 in internet fees what are the ramifications for musicians in less lucrative genres?

A few years ago people were excited that the internet empowered unsupported artists and leveled the playing field. Well the playing field was leveled all right, now everyone pays what they want and artists make next to nothing from recordings. If thats the world you want to live in you deserve the music that you'll get as a result.
18:35 May 13, 2012 by catjones
Don't blame others; blame Chuck Darwin....
18:45 May 13, 2012 by DrWho
Technically there is no such thing as piracy in the Germany, and most of the EU. If you have bought a photocopier, multi-funciontion printer (with scanner), a computer, a hard disk or blank media of any kind, you have already paid a levy to the recording industry. Since that fund it to compensate artists for music you have yet to download, that is akin to "pre-paying" for music and movies.

This isn't small change. From the TheLocal.se (http://www.thelocal.se/27860/20100718/), "In 2007, sales of blank discs generated 200 million kronor ($28 million) for artists, compared to "just" 113 million kronor in 2009". (emphasis mine).

So, how can downloading music be illegal, if after all, you have already paid for the music?
23:15 May 14, 2012 by Mr. Wonderful
@ catjones

I didn't realize that Charles Darwin hypothesized that people would become increasingly selfish and prone to stealing what they could get away with. On the other hand the self evident dumbing down of education, respect and morals in the 21st century would certainly bear Darwin out if he did.
16:52 May 15, 2012 by luckylongshot
So the elite want to gain control over the internet but could not find anyone stupid enough to put forward their arguments so had to resort to celebrities....they must be desperate.
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