-- Press Release --
-- 28. May 2006 –-
Content Flatrate is Feasible!
Study Shows: Legalising Peer-to-peer Filesharing is Compatible with European and International Law
Nothing in national law and international obligations constitutes an obstacle to permitting file-sharing subject to a levy. This is the conclusion of a legal feasibility study under the supervision of Prof. André Lucas, the most renowned copyright scholar in France, that has now been released in English. 
The study was conducted at the request of the French „Alliance Public-Artistes."  The broad coalition of organisations representing the interests of consumers and education as well as authors and performing artists is campaigning for a Global License, as the alternative compensation system is called in France. In their analysis, Carine Bernault and Audrey Lebois conclude that downloading is covered by the private copying exception provided that the existing system of remuneration is adapted. The Internet Service Providers would have to pay a levy, just as the manufacturers and importers of blank media do today. For uploading, they envisage subjecting the making available right to mandatory collective management. Here the authors point to the precedents of collective management for reprography introduced in France in 1995 and to cable broadcast for which collective management was imposed by a EU directive in 1993. In short, „compulsory collective management is not perceived as reversing the fundamental principles of copyright, but instead ‘reinforcing and (…) organising the protection granted to authors against infringements of their fundamental rights, as consecrated in French law since 1793‘"
The study on the feasibility of compensation for peer-to-peer file-sharing, first released in French in June 2005 , has now been translated into English for wider accessibility. The translation has been conducted at the initiative of the German advocacy group privatkopie.net with the support of BEUC, the European Consumers‘s Organisation, and Stiftung Bridge.
L‘Alliance Public-Artistes has supported its arguments for a Global License by additional studies on the technical  and economic feasibility . The latter find that a levy of five Euro per month is economically justified. These studies have thoroughly invalidated arguments that a flatrate compensation for legal file-sharing is not compatible with national, European and international copyright law and threatens the emerging online market that were brought forth, among others, by the German Ministry of Justice. 
With reference to the Lucas study, Members of French Parliament from both the conservative ruling party as well as from the socialist party have advanced amendements to the recent copyright law reform in France with the aim of introducing a Global License. The National Assembly passed these amendements on 22 Dezember 2005. The Global License therefore has been a reality in France already. Only by an unprecedented campaign -- Libération called it „total war on the Global License"  -- did the rights industry manage to get it rolled back.
What can not be rolled back is the broad societal consensus formed in France in favor of a flatrate solution to file-sharing. What can not be rolled back is the parliamentarian support that it has received from both ends of the political spectrum. And finally, the substantial arguments that the alliance of public and artists have worked out in its favor can not be rolled back. It is our hope to increase the rationality of the international copyright debate by releasing an English translation of the Lucas study.
Collective rights management is ideally suited for the individual mass medium Internet. It is juridically, technically and economically feasible. The question now is no longer: is it possible, but: what do we want? A privacy-friendly flatrate or a highly invasive infrastructure of control technology for private management? Freedom or digital barbed wire?
 Monitoring and Identifying P2P Media, prepared for SPEDIDAM by BigChampagne Online Media Measurement, 09 January 2006, http://alliance.bugiweb.com/usr/Documents/EtudeSpedidamBigChampagne-en-janv2006.pdf
 Conducted by the consumers‘s organisation UFC Que Choisier. English summary in: Press Kit: Downloading and sharing files on the Internet. An alliance against legal proceedings. An alliance for a global licence, esp. p. 11 ff., Economic Justifications, 3 June 2005, http://alliance.bugiweb.com/usr/Documents/PressKit-June2005.pdf
 Government Draft of a Second Law on Copyright in the Information Society (in German), p. 38 f., http://www.bmj.de/media/archive/1174.pdf
 Au Midem, guerre totale ŕ la licence globale, Libération, 21.1.2006, http://www.liberation.fr/page.php?Article=352912
For questions please contact
Dr. Volker Grassmuck, Initiative privatkopie.net
vgrass AT staff.hu-berlin.de