Last week the Netherlands found out the hard way what the risks are when copyright-law is seriously neglected by parliament. Just mentioning a file-name has been declared legally synonymous with hosting illegal material.
When parliament fails to adequately update it’s own laws, private lobbying groups like BREIN will take over the initiative and they will create the laws. By forcing the debate from the parliamentary proces into the civil courtroom, BREIN and other lobbying groups bring the number of participants in this debate down to a handful of judges and lawyers specializing in this subject.
One of the outcomes of this process is that it becomes almost inevitable that judges cannot help but appear biased.
When reaching landmark decisions that overturn years of jurisprudence, neither the judge nor the issue is served when it turns out that the judge in question is in business with the copyright-lawyer from the party benefiting from this shocking verdict. The fact that this joint enterprise mainly offers courses on ‘counter-piracy’ at €900 per day, makes the situation appear even muddier still.
If the Netherlands wants to avoid looking like a banana-republic where the law is for sale to the highest bidder, it is urgent that parliament takes control of the debate on copyright-reform, and brings it back into the public arena where this discussion belongs.
It is vitally important that parliament takes charge, but in order to do that, the members clearly need detailed knowledge of the subject-matter as well as lots of guts. Both of which are completely lacking at the moment. The Dutch Pirateparty is on the brink of gaining a seat in tomorrow’s parliamentary elections. Our seat will be the first step into reigning in out of control lobby-groups and bringing the copyright debate ‘home’.