Greens Call For ‘Social Contract For Digital Age’; Lessig Calls US Hopeless On Copyright Reform

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By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch

BERLIN–The United States is hopeless when it comes to a copyright reform for the internet, US Law Professor Lawrence Lessig told the German Green Party’s congress on internet politics on Saturday. Europe, Lessig said, could take the lead with regard to that reform, which is needed but blocked in the US by vested interests.

The US copyright lobby’s only defeat – the withdrawal of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – did not mean there was a broader turnaround, he said. Lessig asked for a simpler, more focussed and efficient copyright that avoids mixing private and professional use, remix and copies under an ever-stricter regime. The call was welcomed at the conference that the Green Party used to discuss what it called a social contract for the digital age.

“A social contract for the digital age is overdue,” said Green Party Chair Renate Kuenast, who will also lead the party in the upcoming German election next year.

Needed elements are: internet access as the new universal service, better access to the political process and a rejuvenation of democracy, and the protection of fundamental rights in the digital world, Kuenast said. Eighteen workshops discussed what critics called regulation for the net – from more effective data protection to potential inclusion of digital rights in the German constitution.

Former State Department official Ben Scott called for much more forward-looking policy and said he sees Berlin as more of a source for the change than Brussels and the European Union, as Brussels is where “good ideas go to die.”

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