Talk about crowdsourcing: Finland is set to vote on a set of copyright laws that weren’t proposed by government or content-making agencies: They were drafted by citizens.
Finns are able to propose laws that the government must consider if 50,000 supporters sign a petition calling for the law within six months. A set of copyright regulations that are fairer to everyone just passed that threshold, and TorrentFreak.com reports that a government vote is likely in early 2014. The new laws were created with the help of the Finnish Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the body has promised that it will maintain pressure on the political system so that the law will actually be changed.
The proposed new laws would decriminalize file sharing and prevent house searches and surveillance of pirates. TorrentFreak reminds us of the international media outcry that happened last year when during a police raid a 9-year-old girl’s laptop was confiscated on the grounds that she stole copyrighted content. Finland’s existing copyright laws, under what’s called the Lex Karpela amendment, are very strict and criminalize the breaking of DRM for copying purposes as well as preventing discussion of the technology for doing so. The laws have been criticized by activists and observers for their strictness and infringement upon freedom of speech.
The crowdsourcing of ideas for legislation is a growing trend. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren asked Reddit users for ideas to curb the draconian process of seizing domain names in the U.S. Steven Polunsky, director of the Texas Senate Committee on Business and Commerce, proposed a crowdsourcing effort for new legislation regulating payday lending. In Iceland in 2011 the nation as a whole helped crowdsource a new constitution.