The hyperbolic rhetoric that is a feature of the copyright industry, which tries absurdly to characterise making an additional digital copy as “theft”, can lead to some serious legislative harm. For example, Germany is currently aiming to bring in a new law against “digital violence” – things like bullying and stalking, but also identity abuse and theft. In the worst cases of digital violence, it may lead to real violence, with lives threatened. That makes legislation to curb it reasonable. But along the way, something unreasonable is happening, spotted here by Netzpolitik (translation by DeepL):
the planned law against digital violence is not only aimed at perpetrators of digital violence. It regulates “all cases of unlawful infringement of absolute rights”. Absolute rights include “other rights”, among others also intangible property rights such as “intellectual property”. This has nothing to do with digital violence.
We asked the Federal Ministry of Justice whether the Digital Violence Act aims to take action against all or only some violations of “absolute rights” and whether this includes intellectual property rights. A spokeswoman confirmed that the information procedure is intended to cover “all cases of unlawful infringement of absolute rights within the meaning of section 823(1) of the German Civil Code”. “This also concerns intangible property rights” such as copyright infringements.
Copyright infringement is in no way comparable to the kind of life-threatening online abuse that the new law against digital violence is designed to tackle. Its inclusion is a by-product of the inflated importance that copyright is too often assigned as a result of industry lobbying. Here, the result is to make an important new law ridiculously broad, and thus less likely to be taken seriously by the public.
Featured image by Sami Mlouhi.
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