The initiative Kunst hat Recht (Art is in the Right) has launched a debate about copyright in Austria. Finally! Twenty-seven artists and agents took to the streets in October to name-and-shame those preventing the compensating of damages from illegal downloading and file sharing of copyrighted material.
The targets were the Austrian Chamber of Labour (AK) and Chamber of Commerce (WKO), who oppose a flat tax on computer hard drives (Festplattenabgabe), introduced some years ago but rejected by the High Court in 2005, arguing that computers are not exclusively for the storing of music of films. Just days earlier, the Green Party had introduced the Cultural Flat Tax model, affecting the Internet connection, a plan also opposed by AK and WKO.
The Internet age requires new vehicles to compensate artists for “copy-paste Communism”. However, flat tax models imply that users will violate copyright. The Cultural Flat Tax also addresses the technical possibilities – and thus airs a much broader debate about ownership rights in the arts.