Despite last minute attempts by the French government to divide them, European
MEPs today voted decisively against "three strikes", the IFPI-promoted plan to
create a class of digital outcasts, forbidden from accessing the Net if
repeatedly accused by music companies of downloading infringing content.
In a vote held today, hundreds of MEPs supported
which declared termination of Internet access to be in conflict with "civil
liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality,
effectiveness and dissuasiveness", all core values of the European Union.
In an attempt to limit the damage of this vote, the French government (whose
President, Nicholas Sarkozy publically supports three strikes) wrote to all
French MEPs to oppose the vote. "Three strikes" advocates also worked hard to
divide support for the amendment. They successfully managed to split the
language into two parts, to be voted on separately: the first section condemned
any action that would conflict with such ideals, but failed to specify what
those actions might be. The second specifically named disconnecting Net users
as being beyond the pale.
EFF (which has been following the Bono report closely since the first attempts were made to "hijack" it last October)
collaborated with activists across Europe to co-ordinate support for
the amendment, and wrote to all MEPs yesterday to point out the real dangers of
graduated response, and urge a vote for both parts. French Net activists,
including the new Squaring the Net
initiative, contacted their MEPs en masse to oppose the French Government's
recommendation. And Guy Bono, the author of the report,
this to say in the plenary:
"On this subject, I am firmly opposed to the position of some Member States,
whose repressive measures are dictated by industries that have been unable to
change their business model to face necessities imposed by the information
society. The cut of Internet access is a disproportionate measure regarding the
objectives. It is a sanction with powerful effects, which could have profound
repercussions in a society where access to the Internet is an imperative right
for social inclusion."
Both parts of the amendment passed. (You can watch the vote in
href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZPso3dryapA">German - it's about two
The entertainment industry originally intended the Bono Report on the Cultural
Industries to be a stalking horse for their new approach, encouraging MEPs to
insert language that would show support for copyright extension, banning Net
users, and censoring the Net in the interests of rightsholders.
Instead it has turned into a
watershed: a clear rejection of the strategy of forcing the
telecommunications industry to act as a private police force for entertainment
lobby — and a positive endorsement of the Net's free flow of information,
and a positive agenda for copyright reform. It seems like the music industry
will remain the only group to believe that spying, filtering and punishing your
own customers is a good idea: either for business, or for society as a whole.