German culture minister blasts gov't over piracy

Bernd Neumann compares progress to other nations

BERLIN -- German state minister of culture Bernd Neumann has leveled harsh criticism at his counterparts in the ministry of justice because no constructive proposals have been put forward for combating Internet piracy.

His remarks against his own government came in a statement made at the first German music authors' awards show in Berlin on Thursday.

"Other countries in Europe, such as Sweden and France, have now shown how to put a stop to Internet piracy," he said. "We will see how successful the French model proves to be in investigating and prosecuting copyright infringements. Of course, this model cannot be copied exactly due to the different legal situations in the two countries, but it is unacceptable that nothing is being done here in Germany."

The German government decided that capping Internet access, as France is set to do, was incompatible with German data and telecommunications privacy legislation.

Neumann added: "Bootlegs and the misappropriation of intellectual rights result in losses in the billion euro range every year, which threatens the very existence of artists and the companies involved, right down to the publishing companies. This cannot be accepted. Here I am thinking in particular of the entire music and creative industry, which have now become successful key players in our economic life."

There was no reaction from the minister of justice, Brigitte Zypries, in Berlin.

Neumann reported that, together with his French counterpart Christine Albanel, he had also argued in favor of the EU substantially increasing the period to protect the exploitation rights -- currently 50 years -- so that artists can enjoy income into later life.

"At the moment it looks like the EU is considering a period for exploitation right of 70 years, I believe that this marks a considerable advance in strengthening the creative forces in our society," said Neumann.

The winners of the German music authors' awards presented by the German copyright society GEMA:

Composer soundtracks: Martin Bottcher

Composer independent: Niels Frevert

Composer music theater: Detlev Glanert

Composer Rock/Pop: Peter Fox

Composer sinfonic: Prof. Manfred Trojahn

New talent: Kai-Uwe Kolkhorst

Lyrics hip-hop: Die Fantastischen Vier

Lyrics rock/pop: Judith Holofernes of Wir sind Helden

Most successful title of the year: Annette Humpe from the duo Ich + Ich with "So Soll es Bleiben"

Lifetime achievement award: composer Peter Thomas