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German scriptwriters attack internet users over copyright

Television programs often leave a legacy in their wake when they end, if they have been running for a long enough period of time. German series 'Tatort' ("Crime Scene", in English), is giving itself a legacy courtesy of its scriptwriters. The series has been running on German, Swiss, and Austrian television stations since 1970, and has been appearing on American television under the name of Scene of the Crime, since 2009. There are fifty-one scriptwriters for the series, and they've managed to write a letter targeting virtually everyone who might hold different copyright views, as well as plenty of normal people.

The letter, while written in German (and viewable here), has also been observed by TechDirt. It isn't so much the letter itself which is a problem, but the actual tone and content of it. The scriptwriters responsible speak of 'life lies'; their main lie is that copyright lengths should be shortened to fit in the digital era, where there are thousands of creators and even more consumers daily. The following is a translation of a passage from the original letter, and therefore, some grammatical errors might be visible as it is not a perfect translation:

Not only does the author suffer expropriation through a reduction in the copyright term and is thus dramatically worse off, no, this proposal doesn't even change the situation of the supposedly innocent end-user one bit: your illegal downloads or streams concern mostly the absolutely latest films, music, books, photos and designs -- and not works that are, say, 20, 40 or 60 years old. A shortening of the copyright term would change nothing for this problem, and would be purely symbolic: look, we have taken something away from the authors....

Nobody really thought that shortening copyright length would sort out the problem of illegal downloads, did they? The real question is the reusage of materials that are under copyright for other purposes. The scriptwriters for Tatort might not have much of an inclination of how the internet works. People frequently create unofficial music videos for songs, and upload them to YouTube with footage. Considering that Tatort has been running since 1970 there is a wealth of content that could be used without spoiling anything recent for anyone in particular. If someone hasn't seen it in the past forty-two years the internet might be the best thing to happen to early episodes from the series.

But that excerpt isn't even the worst thing to come from this letter. That award has to go to the greeting that opens the letter:

German: Liebe Grüne, liebe Piraten, liebe Linke, liebe Netzgemeinde!

English: Dear greens (liberals), dear pirates, dear leftists, dear net-community

Forgive me if the above translation isn't quite flawless; what I know of German is pretty limited. Not many letters can open in a manner which manages to insult political ideologies, pirates, and the internet in general. However, it is worth remembering also that the liberals, pirates and leftists are all political parties within Germany. Germany's "Pirate Party" has clearly been growing in influence within the country, for the Tatort scriptwriters have felt it necessary to mention them in their letter. Regardless, the fifty-one scriptwriters who managed to write this most entertaining script for the internet community to play with are listed at the end of their letter.

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