Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Reda Report Adopted By EU Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee. What That Means For Us

Personally, I'm addicted to the high-octane buzz of political activism. Each victory my team wins makes me feel like Imperator Furiosa, but on a really good day. As a Pirate, one of my soapbox subjects is copyright reform, and I'm advocating for the adoption of the Reda Report by the EU Parliament. This is the state of play.

Today, the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament passed an amended version of my copyright evaluation report with a broad majority. (Find the detailed breakdown of the votes on my overview page. The final adopted text is not yet available – I will link to it as soon as it goes online.) - Julia Reda, on her blog.

That the only Pirate we have in the European Parliament, which has 750 other MEPs in it, has been able to achieve this in the teeth of a virulent opposition campaign in which the pragmatic realist was characterised as a dangerous radical out to destroy the livelihoods of content creators, is little short of a miracle. It was, of course, helped along by a campaign of our own, which relies on facts, not FUD, to get the message across.

Baby steps...

Read through the post yourself to see what we've achieved so far, but it includes:
  • Minimum standards for the rights of the public protected by a ban on restrictive contracts and DRM
  • Retention of the right to make a private copy of legally acquired content

and adds these exceptions:
  •  to allow libraries and archives to digitise their collections efficiently,
  •  to enable the lending of e-books over the Internet and
  •  to allow the automatical analysis of large bodies of text and data (text & data mining).

...not a giant leap

Needless to say, some of us were less than thrilled about the adoption of the Report, complaining that it does little more than reject ancillary copyright, i.e. the "right" to demand fees from search engines for linking to content. Former MEP Amelia Andersdotter went all Ripley-with-a-flamethrower on it, declaring:
What some of us are forgetting is that Julia's target is very small. It's European Directive 2001/29/EC, which is all about harmonising copyright law across Europe. She's also limited by the Berne Convention in terms of what she can realistically achieve. This is why some of the other Pirates are outright slapping her; they're demanding more progress, sooner. The trouble is, the European Parliament is not the Pirate Party, there's no liquid democracy. It's full of people with a variety of agendas, each of whom is feeling a tug on their sleeve from a range of competing special interest groups; whoever tugs the hardest wins.

What now?

Amelia Andersdotter has actually been actively trying to whip up support for copyright reform in the EU by writing in support of the Copywrongs campaign, explaining the consequences of the successful maximalist propaganda that has resulted in copyright being widely considered a human right and property. Shes's just frustrated that we've achieved so little, considering what we actually want. I know, but the fact that one single Pirate has achieved anything at all is little short of a miracle and we need all Pirates hands on deck to get this Report through the Plenary vote, which will take place on 9th July, even though it doesn't give us everything we want.

Wars are won one battle at a time

If we get this, we have a foundation to build on. Bear in mind that we've got to run the gauntlet of furious adversaries convinced we are out to destroy their livelihoods, eat their babies, and generally misbehave. It won't be easy but if we all stick together and get behind Julia we have a chance at getting the foundation laid for a glorious future in which we get the rest of the things we want. It's just that we'll get them one thing at a time and each one will have to be fought for and carefully guarded. If we don't unite, the maximalists will take advantage of our divisions and win.

We need to celebrate each victory, however small, in order to get more support, or we'll get nowhere. Who's with me?

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