Wednesday, November 26, 2008

EU culture ministers reject 3 strikes

Glyn Moody is pleasantly surprised that the meeting of EU culture ministers last week rejected the notion of a 3 strikes approach to dealing with peer to peer copyright infringement on the web. I hope he won't mind me incorporating his comments here in full, since he so neatly sums up my own perspective on this unexpected development.

"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)."

Please do also read his succinct 'save our amendment' letter to UK ministers summing up the importance of retaining amendment 138 in the telecoms package. Absolutely spot on.

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