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The Europe Roundup: Is Downloading a Right or More of a Religion?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Friday, January 6 2012

Demo.cratica. Photo by
  • Switzerland | Swiss Government Confirms Right to Download

    Unlike many other countries, in Switzerland a law allows the downloading of copyrighted material for personal use. The effects of such a law have been recently confirmed when a member of the Swiss parliament issued an inquiry to the Federal Council if the country would need new laws to this respect.

    To answer the inquiry, the Swiss government commissioned an independent study on the impact of copyright-infringing downloading. The study concluded that downloaders use the money they save to buy more legitimate entertainment products. The Federal Council then answered the inquiry by stating that the existing legal framework is sufficient.

    The Swiss Government press release also points out that existing laws against downloading may not even be legal:

    The report further states that it is questionable whether a three-strikes law would be legal in the first place, as the UN’s Human Rights Council labeled Internet access a human right. The Council specifically argued that Hadopi is a disproportionate law that should be repealed.

    The independent study also said that one in three people in Switzerland download unauthorized music, movies and games from the Internet.
    Filesharing is still not allowed.

  • Sweden | ...But Is Downloading a Religion, Really?

    Downloading might even become a religion. Or so it seems in Sweden, at least.
    BBC reports that the Swedish government has just recognized the Church of Kopimism as a religious organisation.
    The group of self-confessed pirates have tried to get their beliefs recognized in Sweden since 2010. BBC writes:

    The church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, does not directly promote illegal file sharing, focusing instead on the open distribution of knowledge to all.
    It was founded by 19-year-old philosophy student and leader Isak Gerson. He hopes that file-sharing will now be given religious protection.
    "For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore copying is central for the organisation and its members," he said in a statement.

    After the news the church's website has been unavailable ("We have been Slashdotted," they write).
    As in the Swiss case, in Sweden file-sharing is still illegal and commenters point out that the religious protection does not certainly mean that things are gonna change. The Kopimism Church's founder hopes that this newly recognized religious status will be taken into account in future lawmaking.

    TorrentFreak also reported the news and commented:

    During the last half year the Missionary Church of Kopimism tripled its members from 1,000 to 3,000 and it’s expected that the recent news will cause another surge in followers. Official member or not, Gerson encourages everyone with an Internet connection to keep on sharing.

  • Portugal | Democratica: Opening Parliament's Data

    At the end of last year, the open data team of OWNI published a selection of the best of the website's weekly round-ups of data on the web.
    One of the best practices comes from Portugal: Demo.cratica, a tool to explore the Portuguese parliament through data.
    Here's what the tool does:

    Democratica’s calendar of sessions from 2009 allows the user to navigate through transcripts of the debates. Hovering over a date on the calendar displays the word most often cited in that day’s speeches, practical for browsing the various topics addressed. When you look at the transcript of a parliamentary session, in addition to the texts of the responses, Democratica provides a “statistical” visualization of the exchanges. You can easily see which group in parliament has spoken the most, even which members within that group, and the major themes addressed.

    Demo.cratica is created and managed by Ana Carvalho and Ricardo Lafuente, two designers of Manufactura Independente, a design studio based in Porto. The project was presented at the Open Government Data Camp, a big conference on open government data held in Warsaw last October.
    [Personal Democracy Forum was a partner organisation of the event]