A draconian set of Finnish anti-piracy copyright laws called “Lex Karpela” punish software and music piracy offenders worse than rape according to Finnish group Open Ministry that seeks to see this Finnish law repealed. Currently, Finnish anti-piracy copyright laws dictated by lobbyists hold “higher fines and potential punishment than rape – an extremely sad fact – and one that shows the lengths these lobbyists have gone to” in Finland. Open Ministry seeks to lower the penalties for piracy down from being criminal to simply a misdemeanor.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Finland’s anti-piracy laws became world infamous when a nine year old music “pirate” had her Winnie the Pooh laptop seized by police with a search warrant. The little girl had attempted to download her favorite Finnish pop artist from The Pirate Bay, downloaded a non-working file set as bait by lobbyists, and then legally bought the CD locally with her parents. Regardless, non-government music piracy groups sent threatening letters attempting to extort money from the parents, and when they ignored the letters the police came knocking.
According to Open Ministry, “this example being the tip of the iceberg in a year where one person received a judgement of 200,000e for 6 songs downloaded, a single mother waiting for a liver transplant cornered for 60,000e, 800,000e in Tampere and 6.9 million in Oulu – just to name but a few.”
Advocates for repealing the Lex Karpela anti-piracy laws “have the ability to crowd source legislation via the Open Ministry – a group that prides itself on alternate forms of democracy.” They are attempting to gather 50,000 signatures for their petition so that the Finnish Parliament will be forced to vote on their proposal:
“Open Ministry pulled together a team of consultants and lawyers to draft a repeal proposal on articles in the 2005 Lex Karpela (named after the x-cultural minister) amendment that went above and beyond the EU copyright directive 2001/29/EC. These above and beyond sections have allowed for not only excessive arbitrary lawsuits, but have in addition given registered organizations supported by record labels and lobbyists the ability to have Police conduct search and seizure. Current copyright laws consider pirating for private use criminal and can hold sentences up to 2 years in prison with excessive fines, which strangely enough somewhat mirror penalties for rape in Finland.”
Joonas Pekkanen, Chairman of the Open Ministry, explains how their proposal seeks to make anti-piracy laws more fair to the citizens of Finland:
“This crowd-sourced law proposal suggests several changes to the current copyright law including allowing the fair use of copyright-protected material for parody and satire and in teaching situations and improving the situation of freelance artists. It is not a pro-piracy law proposal. However, it does suggest that the individual downloading of copyright-protected material from the internet should be a misdemeanor – and no longer a crime. This is actually what the law in Finland was until 2006. It is also in line with the international tendency, for example, in countries like Holland and United Kingdom, to alleviate the overly strict copyright regulations. Open Ministry hopes that, in the spirit of deliberative democracy, this grassroots initiative will spur public discussion and continue to gather support and media attention. We can no longer afford to stand by and allow the corporate copyright lobbyists to dictate what is considered fair and legal. Now is the time for the people to unite, be heard and demand a change through the democratic means we have been awarded.”
What do you think about Open Ministry and its efforts to change Finland’s Lex Karpela anti-piracy laws?