La Quadrature Du Net – Let’s Build Better Copyright Laws

After what many call as the death blow to Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) thanks to an overwhelming rejection in the European Parliament, some might call the battle for balanced copyright over for now. La Quadrature Du Net, however, argues that this is a great time to build more acceptable copyright laws.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It may be a symbol of where democracy triumphs over big multi-national corporate interests for some. Yesterday, the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly to reject ACTA altogether in a vote of 478 against to 39 for. For many, this means that ACTA is now dead in Europe. While supporters are now left to try and find ways of resurrecting the agreement sometime in the future, La Quadrature Du Net isn’t waiting around for the next fight.

In a press release celebrating the killing blow to ACTA, La Quadrature Du Net says that better copyright laws need to be built. Here’s the published press release:

The European Parliament rejected ACTA1 by a huge majority, killing it for good. This is a major victory for the multitude of connected citizens and organizations who worked hard for years, but also a great hope on a global scale for a better democracy. On the ruins of ACTA we must now build a positive copyright reform2, taking into account our rights instead of attacking them. The ACTA victory must resonate as a wake up call for lawmakers: Fundamental freedoms as well as the free and open Internet must prevail over private interests.

Citizens from the Internet and all around the world have won! By 478 to 0393 during the final vote, Members of the EU Parliament killed ACTA once and for all. Together —connected through a decentralized communication architecture— we defeated this evil treaty negotiated in secret by a club of private interests and dogmatic civil servants. The ACTA battle demonstrates how crucial our networked public sphere is to the future of our societies and democracies.

La Quadrature du Net declared: “European institutions must now recognize that the alliance between citizens, civil society organizations and the EU Parliament is at the core of a new democratic era in Europe. European copyright policy must now be built with the participation of citizens.”

La Quadrature du Net warmly thanks and deeply congratulates every citizen, organization, cluster and network who collectively achieved this major victory! Let’s all celebrate and learn from this success, so as to be even stronger for the next battles!

“Beyond ACTA, we must stop this repressive trend which keeps imposing measures that harm the Internet and fundamental freedoms. Citizens must demand a reform of copyright which will foster online cultural practices such as sharing and remixing, instead of endlessly repressing them. The ACTA victory must be the beginning of a new era, in which policy-makers put freedoms and the open Internet —our common good— ahead of private interests.” concluded Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the citizen advocacy group.


A PDF file was linked to the post which makes a number of proposals for better copyright laws. Here are the core points in the proposal:

– Repeal liberty-killer repressive schemes and Internet filtering
– Ban Technical Restriction Measures
– Shorten copyright terms
– Make the existing exceptions to copyright mandatory EU-wide
– Create new exceptions for not-for-profit sharing and re-use of cultural works
– Give room to the development of new funding models

Setting aside the fact that this isn’t an actual piece of legislation yet, I think this is a very interesting development. Every time there’s a major copyright law defeated, it’s easy to say that the big threat to the Internet is killed off and now we can continue on with our daily lives. The problem for people fighting against stricter copyright laws is that it’s only a matter of waiting for the government to be influenced enough to write a new piece of copyright legislation and the whole process repeats again. In a lot of cases, some are only willing to fight off something negative rather than bring forth something positive – which is substantially more work.

It’s not to say this sort of thing hasn’t happened before. We’ve seen a somewhat similar attempt being made in the US thanks to the OPEN Act. If you really wanted to stretch things out and find another example, you could point to some of the positive things in the Canadian copyright reform bill, but at most, you’d get an element or two (i.e. YouTube provisions) out of it.

One can only hope that something positive can come out of all of this.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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