21 November 2008

"Three Strikes and You're Out" Struck Down

Wow. I was convinced that the meeting of EU culture ministers yesterday was going to end badly; I was wrong - and I take my virtual hat off to them:

EU culture ministers yesterday (20 November) rejected French proposals to curb online piracy through compulsory measures against free downloading, instead agreeing to promote legal offers of music or films on the Internet.

The EU Culture Council pushed yesterday (20 November) for "a fair balance between the various fundamental rights" while fighting online piracy, first listing "the right to personal data protection," then "the freedom of information" and only lastly "the protection of intellectual property".

The Council conclusions also stressed the importance of "consumers' expectations in terms of access […] and diversity of the content offered online". No mention was made of a gradual response to serial downloaders of illegal cultural material, as foreseen by the French authorities.

I think this is very significant, because it indicates that the culture ministers and their advisers are beginning to understand the dynamics of the Net, that throttling its use through crude instruments like the "three strikes and you're out" is exactly the wrong thing to do, and that there are serious issues to do with freedom of information at stake here that cannot simply be brushed aside as Sarkozy and his media chums wish to do.

Judging by the generally sensible tone of the meeting's conclusions, the optimist in me starts to hope that the tide is finally turning. However, I do wonder whether this saga is finished yet, or whether the Telecoms Package still has some teeth that it can bare....

Update: Following up that thought, here's a letter I've sent to the relevant UK ministers who will be involved in a crucial meeting on the Telecoms Package this week (24/11/08).


Anonymous said...

What you are linking to does not matter, what matters is the vote in the Council of Ministers this week.

Nobody knows what will be the position of each minister, but you can expect the worst, since they decide behind closed doors, and you can also expect phone calls from President Sarkozy to other head of States.

Glyn Moody said...

I agree the meeting next week can wreak havoc, but it's still heartening that at least the *culture* ministers seem to get it.

It means that the battle is not hopeless: I've already written to the relevant UK ministers.

Anonymous said...

It is frightening to see how decisions are made inside the Council of Ministers of the EU.

And it is also amazing to see how the internet community is organised in Europe. I went to the website of LaQuadrature.net, and I had a hard time to understand what it was all about.

Glyn Moody said...

Yes, one of the problems is the really Byzantine power structure in the EU - and the scope for deals being struck behind closed doors, and pushed through via various procedural tricks.

The good news is that parts of that system - notably the European Parliament, and now the culture ministers - and beginning to see reason. The bad news is that powerful figures like Sarkozy and ramming through their own agendas anyway.

doom head said...

i update my blog frequently about this situation...

Glyn Moody said...

Thanks for the link.