2015-03-08

Human rights and the right to get paid.




It has come to my attention that what I posted about getting paid and human rights on Julia Redas thread might be horribly misunderstood, and I agree. As to not take up unnecessary space, as this is slightly of topic there, I’ve posted somewhat of a clarification here on my personal blog.

Here in Sweden we have had a levy imposed on hard drives, USB sticks and other storage devices due to copyright holders lobbying against Pirates. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_copying_levy

One claim they made as an argument, way back when, is that it is a human right to GET paid in just this manner. And that is the part that is difficult to translate to English. The punchline is lost in translation, so to speak.

There is a difference between the right to work, to a livelihood, equal pay for equal work and so on as covered by human rights, and what the media industry claims, namely that they have a right to GET paid via a levy, weather you store music, movies, games or not on said device after you bought it.

To my knowledge, this is lobbied across the EU in different ways in different countries. However, this is not supported anywhere in the human rights. They do not have the right to GET paid for example via a levy as they claim, they do however have the right to ASK to get paid, just like everyone else.

 I as a customer have the right to refuse to buy a product, and there for they should not be able to “tax” me a fee for something I don’t want (or get). If I don’t store Boy Georges greatest hits on a storage device, he should not get any money from me from the sale of said device. 

He should get money from me if I buy his album on the other hand. 
 
The storage device I buy, in other words, might never contain any copyrighted content at all.

(The levy on some storage devices such as empty DVDs are higher than the tax for alcohol and tobacco here in Sweden, and we pay allot of tax on those.)

And even if it does contain copyrighted material, I myself might be the owner, either by a business transaction or if it’s something of my own creation. If so, I do not want to either pay for it twice, nor do I want Madonna to earn money off of my own personal labor.

A more direct translation from Swedish would be, they don’t have the right to TAKE pay, but they have the right to ASK a price for a product, but even this translation is flawed as it lacks said punch.

This claim they use, that this levy and other similar methods, is covered by human rights is often misunderstood by, and/or misused by, some copyright holders and thus used  in arguments against the Pirate Parties stance on copyright politics.

For example: Getting work and fair pay is part of the human rights, human rights is good, there for  this idea with the levy is also good. This is not correct reasoning.

Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s the creators that has been misinformed, or misunderstands this, and that is highly regrettable as it skews the entire conversation to somewhere it does not belong.

In other words, we want to (here in Sweden) reform the way artists gets paid, not take away their right to a living.

But the fact remains, this particular line of argument from the media lobby that they have the right to get paid via levies in this manner is simply not true, and certainly not justified through human rights.

I hope this clears up some of the misunderstanding my earlier comment might have brought to the table. Certainly I don’t expect the Media industry lobbyists to agree, but that’s politics.

Regards,
Isaksson