I’m usually not writing in English in my blog, but from time to time it might be handy.
On the last re:publica, Jérémie Zimmermann – the spokes person and Co-founder of La Quadrature du Net held a talk about “Toolbox and Strategies for Winning the “War on Sharing” in the EU”. Meanwhile the video is online and I did the work to do a transcript of it; mostly because I think Jérémie has some very important things to tell.
So, first of all: Here is the video
And here is the transcript. It might not be perfect as I did this for the first time. If there are any mistakes, feel free to put a comment below. Thanks. (you can of course download (Open Document Format) it, reshare it, whatever you want.)
Transcript: Toolbox and strategies for winning the “war on sharing” in the EU
[00:12] Hi everyone, thank you for being here.
I’m Jérémie Zimmermann. I’m the Co-founder and spokes person of La Quadrature du Net, we are a citizen organisation defending fundamental freedoms online – you may know about our work – we are building a kind of citizen toolbox to help everyone understand what is going on when our freedoms online are attacked and tools to help everybody participate in the debate.
We have been mostly busy in the last three years kicking ACTA’s ass. You may have heard of it, but the job is not done yet. And this is partly what i’m going to tell you tonight.
[00:54] I come here with a kind of a bad news, then a kind of a good news and a little bit of of a plan.
The bad news is that there is a war going on. You may be aware of that. This war is the “war against sharing”. Those copyright industries have been waging it of the last 15 years. They have been trying to push all the repressive measures you’ve heard about from the DMCA in the U.S. to the EUCD and the IPRED in the EU and various national transpositions of all this.
It’s all clear to all of you: You have seen their strategies from suing the individual, to trying to automatise the suing, corrupting governments to install some administrative authorities that would bypass the traditional – like the french case – well this is so over, this is so pre-history.
[1:54] Their strategy right now is to push enforcement to the very heart of the network.
How many among you have read at least one version of ACTA? The final one. That’s much more than the average I may say. For those few who read it and actually for the others who didn’t.
[02:20] You may be more or less familiar with this principle that ACTA pushes for a “cooperation”, that it’s pushing for “cooperative efforts” between the ISPs – the service providers – the YouTubes, the DailyMotions, the Facebooks of these world but as well the access providers, the Vodafones, Orange, Deutsche Telekom and so on. The collaboration between the ISPs on one hand and the copyright industry on the other hand. The point of that collaboration is to impose “measures or remedies to deter further infringement”. So it sounds quite harmless when you look at it. But when you think about it with technical minds: “measures to deter further infringement” can only amount in technical terms to automated blocking of content, blocking of access to content, filtering of communication and discrimination between those communications or automated removal of content. All of which you would recognise … to the very equivalent to the censorship that is being done for political purposes in some not so friendly and not so democratic countries.
[03:42] The bad news is, that by pushing enforcement at the very heart of the network, we may be about to make a step that will be impossible to go backwards. By programming machines at the heart of the network to decide what has to go through and what cannot go through, we will pave the way to the generalisation of the deployment of the very same machines that are used on one hand by the dictators to censor content and spy on their populations and on the other hand on telecoms operators to restrict their users communications in the name of creating new business models by hurting net neutrality. Once we have done that for copyright there is no way we go backwards.
[04:34] So the bad news is that this “war against sharing” is taking a turn as of today that may be very much decisive for the future of the internet as we know it. What is at stake here is the very architecture of a free, open, decentralised and universal internet. The internet we love and care about is what it is because of this architecture. Architecture matters! And the very characteristics of this architecture is that the internet we love and share is decentralised, it is universal. This universality means that everyone accessing the free internet has access to the very same content, services and applications but also has the ability to publish some. You know that. This is the way you invent stuff, this is how you experiment, this is how you deploy something, this is how you create start-ups, this is how you invent, this is how you remix, this is how you mash-up.
This is how we share.
[05:39] It is because of the very universality of this architecture that we call the internet. That we about to maybe change our societies, that we are about to maybe change ourselves and become better persons if, if it remains that way.
[05:59] Well. By it’s universality a free internet is, what economics call a “common good”. It is universal, therefore we all share it, we all own it. It would be a mistake to acknowledge that the people running the wires are the people who run the internet, who own the internet, sorry. That the people who run the routers are the people who own the internet. That the people who manufacture those terminals that enslave you into proprietary software hell and closed chips are the ones who own the internet.
[06:33] No, the internet as the aggregator of our intelligences is a common good. We all own it. We all have our share in it even if we’re using facebook or whatever other centralised bullshit there is out there.
[06:50] And as a common good we commonly own it, which means that we have a responsibility over it. We have a responsibility to deliver to the next generations the very same tool we had between our hands, to become better persons and to change our society. This is one of the greatest responsibilities we have had. This is probably one of the most important challenges our generations have to face. And you know probably as well as I do that if we do not manage to maintain this universal architecture as it is, all the other global issues that are at stake, weather it is the environment, finance, energy or whatever will be so much more difficult to solve in a way that would represent us, represent the general interest.
But you probably all know that already because you are here in re:publica, right?
[07:45] So that was the sad news. The good news is, that there is something we can do about it and that we have evidence about that. You all witnessed the SOPA and PIPA fight in the US. Some of all may actually believe that this was a fight in the US, but most of us know that is wasn’t. It is not the US citizens alone who kicked SOPA and PIPA out of the senate and the congress. It is the whole internet, it is us, it is everyone of us. I mean we turned the website, we blacked out a website for SOPA and PIPA because we thought it was mostly the same thing as ACTA but I guess that many of you did the same. Many of you blogged about SOPA and PIPA in your own language, tweeted, re tweeted, we were all part of it. The Internet, the universal and free Internet kicked SOPA and PIPA’s ass and that’s something. And thats evidence for everyone who will tell you “aaaah, there is nothing we can do about that, you know? It’s over, we can’t fight it” No, it’s wrong! And look at ACTA.
[09:00] Who here never heard about ACTA? Nobody? Nobody! One year ago the answer would have been the total opposite. We have been working – and when I say “we” it’s not only La Quadrature du Net – many people around here, once again all of us, we worked for that. The whole internet went on fire when the european executive with all it’s arrogance singed this thing a very few day’s after the seizure of megaupload by the FBI. The whole Internet turned of fire, it’s not only the EU. And once again we archived something incredible. We literally turned the european parliament over, well we may be about to do so. And that’s one of the… maybe the sad part in the good news is that we may be about to win about ACTA in the european parliament, but it’s not won jet. And if at one single stage we lower our guard than we may loose it. So let’s not be overconfident about it but right now, as of today, in the european parliament you can feel the delicate smell, the delicate scent of victory in the air. Because so many more people understand the importance of ACTA, the importance of this issues for the future of our societies, for the future of a free internet and for the future of copyright.
[10:35] So we archived something tremendous and we have to confirm that. We have to win this ACTA battle in the european parliament. Period. And we know how to do this. We know how to do this because we’ve been doing that for some times. We have to be there for each and every step all the boring steps in the procedure of the european parliament – and we may have an occasion to talk about it in the Q&A or later with some drinks. 5 committees working on a report, the report being presented in plenary, a yes or no vote. The vote will be around the summer – you will hear about it again soon – we have to be present and active and not lower our guard at each and every step and we must win this ACTA battle in the european parliament.
[11:24] But, even more importantly than that, we have to keep the eyes on the price. If ACTA is just pushed away and nobody cares – well this may not happen – than an ACTA2 will come back. And ACTA2 may be beaten, stopped being negotiated the day ACTA is kicked in the european parliament, and than an ACTA3, an ACTA4, an IPRED12 may come one after an other as they stacked up for the last 15 years.
[11:58] With the tremendous momentum we are achieving at the moment we have a responsibility to do something more about it. I think that it is time that we literally put an end to this absurd and dangerous “war against sharing”. They are feeding us with lies. They are feeding our elected representatives with lies. They are telling that whenever one of this industries looses some money it is because of the cultural enthusiasts who share digital files between them with no intent of profit. And we all know this is wrong. I mean the French HADOPI, the 3-strikes authority, demonstrated in it’s own study that people who do more file-sharing are people who spend the more for culture. So many independent academic studies prove the same. All of us here do file-sharing, maybe since Napster existed. And all of us know the more you get access to culture, the more cultivated you get, the more culture matters to you, the more you will go to concert, to theatre, to movies, the more you will buy books. It’s exactly the same thing as the people going in the libraries, borrowing more books in the libraries are the people who buy more books. We all know that, right?
[13:24] Well, than we must turn that into public policy. So that those industries stop attacking the very essence, the very fabric, the very architecture of what makes our free internet so great. And there is a very simple solution for that. It is called the “limitations and exceptions to copyright”. It is called “fair use”. This is the bit of the law where the authors don’t have his or her word. This is part of copyright.. these are parts that are excluded from copyright. These are parts that are of general interest. When you want to show a movie to a classroom you do not have to ask for a permission because education is of higher social value than copyright. When you lend a book to a friend, you don’t ask for a permission because lending and friends and sharing is more important than copyright and it couldn’t be enforced anyway. When you create a parody of the work you do not have to ask for a permission. You just do it. Because a parody is essential for freedom of speech which is essential for democratic participation that is indeed more important than copyright.
[14:42] Well, sharing of culture is just the same and we have to shout it loud and clear, we have to make evident and we have to stand for it: We have to turn the sharing of files between individuals and not for profit into an exception to copyright. And then we will ultimately shut the mouth of those industries who go counter to our fundamental freedoms online and counter to the most precious tool we have between our hands for improving the world we live in.
So, thats the plan.
[15:20] And now you ask me, how do we get there? The answer is partly I don’t know and partly I get a bit of a clue. There is this 2001/29 directive in the EU. It was supposed to harmonise copyright but didn’t harmonise anything. It is a failure on all regard and the two studies that landed on the commissions desk said the same.
[15:52] So ask the commissioner; the french commissioner Michel Barnier is announcing that he will maybe – and it will get more complicated if we kick ACTA out – revise this IPRED, the enforcement directive. We must be louded at him in asking the EUCD, the 2001/29, be reopened and that exceptions be renegotiated and that all rights as the public and all right to share culture made be integrated and made into EU law. I have the impression that this is something we can achieve.
[16:27] And how do we do that? Well. First of all we look at what we did. We look at what we did with SOPA, PIPA and ACTA and we ask ourselves how to do it better. What we did was to use every single node of the decentralised internet for what is was or for what it wasn’t or for what we hadn’t think it was. Is to use every single word we had in our minds to make it loud and clear that those things had to be kicked out. Is to use every single pixel that we found available online and turn it into something else that was conveying a message. It’s to go and talk to every possible community from the development people for access to medication in Africa, to the aids-patience, to gay-rights people, to the farmers sharing seeds, to some artists, to the standard human-rights organisations, to journalists, to outreach everywhere and we have to convey this message. This is a responsibility to care about this free Internet and to protect it from those interests that want to turn it into some Television 2.0.
We have to do it because we understand what it is about. And as it is a common good that we all own and share collectively and as this is a battle we have an occasion to win. Well, we cannot afford to loose that one.
Thank you very much.
From here on Q&A-Part until 25:30
 – DMCA = Digital Millenium Copyright Act (Wikipedia)
 – EUCD = European Union Copyright Directive (Wikipedia)
 – IPRED = Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (Wikipedia)
 – I’m not sure about the correct word in this context. So it’s just my guess which might be wrong.
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