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Home NATIONALCitizen initiative bill to soften copyright charges submitted to parliament
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Wed, 27 Nov, 2013 03:06:14 AM
FTimes-STT Report, November 27
Photo - Lehtikuva.
Another citizen initiatives bill seeking softened parliamentary measures regarding online copyright charges was placed in parliament on Tuesday for being enacted as a law.
The bill titled “Sense in Copyright” is the third initiative from the citizen movement. It was placed at the House for discussion after it gained about 52,000  signatures from people. 
The citizen platform needs at least 50,000 signatures for being able to raise any charter in parliament for enactment as law. 
The citizen initiative, however, did not propose to abolish the provision for punishment associated with online copyright charges.
Earlier, the parliament rejected two bills – same sex marriage and fur farming – because of a lack of adequate support by lawmakers, who observed that the possibility of getting adequate support for the bill in question was also thin.
Johannes Koskinen, chairman of the constitutional law committee of parliament, said he did not think the citizen initiative would be able to succeed in pursuing the parliament to enact a law.
He, however, believed that it might very well inspire the lawmakers to engage in a constructive debate over the matter in the House.
“It is a fast recipe; all of the proposals are not relevant but there are some pearls in the proposal,” said Koskinen, an MP of the Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue (Social Democratic Party-SDP), the second largest component of the ruling alliance.
The latest citizen’s bill proposed to lessen penalty in cases of offense pertaining to individuals downloading copyrighted materials.
If the initiative is passed, the TTVK (copyright information and anti-piracy centre) will lose the authority to control copyright issues, said the draft law.
It also said it would allow the use of such materials for educational and research purposes as well in works of parody and satire.
The committee chairman also said it should be  reasonable to consider at least how the copyright violations are addressed in the bill.
The issue of anti-piracy control raised eyebrows a year ago when police raided the house of a nine-year old girl, a fan of popular musician Chisu, and took her laptop on charges that wshe downloaded Chisu's music.
The draft, however, also attracted criticism from various groups including the Associations representing creators, which strongly felt that accepting the proposal would jeopardise their work and make Finland a haven for online piracy.
Minister of Culture Paavo Arhinmäki, also chief of Vasemmistoliitto (left alliance), criticised the bill and the lawmakers who were among the signatories.
Arhinmäki said it was strange that some lawmakers had signed the initiative although they did not support all the proposals included in the draft.
"This initiative is open for debate and there is no compulsion to accept all or reject all,” said Joonas Pekkanen, a representative of the initiative.
According to the existing law, internet piracy is treated as a serious punishable crime and police is allowed to raid and seize property of the accused. There is a provision for realising big amounts of fine from the convicted as well.
Parliament on May 19 rejected the bill that sought to ban fur farming which activists said was a form of cruelty on wild animals.
The bill was placed before the House after the citizen initiative demanded the ban after collecting more than 70,000 signatures in favour of forbidding such farming.
The Fur farming industry owners were accused of cruelty on caged animals to produce fur.  The House rejected the bill by 146 votes to 36.
Another proposal for legalization of same-sex marriage was submitted in the parliament in March this year but, was rejected in a narrow margin before placement.
The bill is expected to be placed again later this year as the citizens have already collected more than 70,000 signature in favour of the bill.
Meanwhile, another citizen initiative seeking referendum on continuation of Finland´s membership in the European Union was also foiled by a lack of support.
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