While the United States will still own much of the hardware that the Internet runs on, Europeans are taking a serious look at how we use it by harmonizing the copyright laws of its member countries related to creative content online. While some of what is being negotiated is legalese, for teachers and kids there may be important changes in the wind. Here's short list and what it may mean :
- Copyright owners are going to be encouraged to make content available online with the confidence that piracy will not cannibalize the economic value of the underlying works.
- Procedures will be created to make clearing content easier and less expensive, including the ability of third parties to use works for whom the owner of the rights cannot be located (so-called orphan works).
- A standard of conduct will be formalized between access/service providers, rights holders, and consumers to encourage legal use and access of creative content and to discourage unauthorized file sharing.
As the Europeans create a common copyright policy for its member countries, the European Union will have to tackle issues that are hampering the activities of entrepreneurs, creators, educators and consumers. The solutions the European Union creates will serve as a guide to other countries, and perhaps the de facto legal framework for the Internet as the digital frontier continues to develop. Should be an interesting ride...but anything that can simplify the copyright and Fair Use laws is welcome.