Christian Engström, Pirat

12 juni 2012

Pirate and Liberal MEPs Debate ACTA

Filed under: ACTA,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 12:04
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Watch the ACTA debate at viEUws (20 min)

Last week I debated ACTA with Niccolò Rinaldi, who is a Member of the European Parliament in the Liberal group.

We both think that the parliament should reject ACTA, but we had slightly different perspectives on some of the issues surrounding ACTA.

Watch the ACTA debate at viEUws (20 min)

1 maj 2012

Pirate Party Presents ACTA Alternative to European Parliament

Read more at Torrentfreak

Torrentfreak writes:

Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom and the Pirate movement’s founder Rick Falkvinge presented their views on copyright reform to the European Parliament this week. The Pirates want to bust the myth that their ideas only center around legalizing file-sharing and offer what they see as sensible alternatives to draconian legislation such as ACTA and SOPA.

Read more at Torrentfreak and download The Case for Copyright Reform

24 april 2012

Book Launch: The Case for Copyright Reform

Download your free copy of the book

Legalized file sharing, shorter protection times for the commercial copyright monopoly, free sampling, and a ban on DRM. These are the main points of the proposal for copyright reform that the Pirate Party is advocating, and which the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament has adopted as its group position.

Together with Rick Falkvinge, the founder of the first Pirate Party, I have written a book that explains why this reform is both necessary and sustainable, and will benefit both citizens and artists.

Today we will launch the book in the European Parliament. If you are in the European Parliament in Brussels, please come to the coffee bar on level 3 in the ASP building and pick up your free copy between 12 and 14 today.

If you are not in Brussels, you can download the book for free, or order it as print-on-demand, from the site copyrightreform.eu.

This is a constructive alternative to the controversial ACTA agreement, and to the criminalization the the entire young generation. It is quite obvious that the current policy of ever harsher enforcement measures against ordinary file sharers just isn’t working.

Europe needs to set a new direction in copyright policy, and needs to do it urgently. But the good news is that we can.

Get your copy of the book, and find out why and how.

There is a better way.

19 april 2012

ACTA vote in JURI April 26

Filed under: ACTA,English — Christian Engström @ 9:01
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The ACTA dossier has started moving through the European Parliament. The date for the deciding vote in plenary has not yet been set. It is expected that it will probably be in June or July, but that could change in either direction as events unfold.

Before the vote in plenary, the will be votes in the committees. The lead committee is INTA (International Trade), but before INTA delivers its report, there will be opinions from JURI, DEVE, ITRE, and LIBE.

It appears that most of the committees haven’t decided on a time table yet.

However, the Legal Affairs Committee JURI has. JURI will vote on ACTA next week:

April 25 – consideration of draft opinion
April 26 – adoption of draft opinion

Link to JURI’s agenda:
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=COMPARL&reference=JURI-OJ-20120425-1&language=EN

The rapporteur in JURI is Marielle Gallo (EPP), and she has published the draft opinion in French. I have not seen any translation yet.

In the draft opinion, Gallo invites the INTA Committee to propose to the Parliament to approve the Commission proposal. Yes to ACTA, in other words.

The JURI opinion cannot be amended, so it will only be a straight yes-or-no vote in JURI.

Here are two pieces of analysis of Gallo’s draft, from FFII and EDRi:

http://acta.ffii.org/?p=1253
http://www.edri.org/acta_revival_bis

I will of course vote no to the draft opinion, but at the moment the outcome in JURI is too close to call.

6 mars 2012

”Barely Legal” Would Not Be Enough To Sign ACTA

Filed under: ACTA,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 14:27
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Read the opinion piece on ACTA in Dods' Parliament Magazine

Dods’ Parliament Magazine has an opinion piece on ACTA by me, where I focus on the fact that ACTA will be pretty useless against goods counterfeiting, and that the main argument of those who are trying to push the agreement through seems to be that ”ACTA changes noting”:

Even if the European Court of Justice were to come back with a verdict of “barely legal” on ACTA’s compatibility with fundamental rights, this would not be enough. The proponents of ACTA must come forward and explain what benefits ACTA would really bring, in their opinion. And we must have an open discussion about the concerns that citizens on the streets have about ACTA’s impact on freedom on the Internet.

Read more in Dods’ Parliament Magazine

In the same issue, there are also opinion pieces on ACTA by Commissioner Karel De Gucht, the Parliament’s rapporteur David Martin (Social Democrats), and Christofer Fjellner (EPP).

5 mars 2012

Commission should investigate all options as regards Data Retention

Filed under: datalagringen,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 17:22
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Press release from the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, which includes the Pirate Party

Press relesase from the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament:

Currently the Commission is assessing whether to revise or abandon the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC. The Directive was adopted in 2006 as a reaction to, amongst others, the London Bombings in 2005. It makes blanket retention of all citizens’ communications data mandatory. Several EU member states have not implemented the directive due to constitutional concerns, in particular with regards to the right to private life.

Civil society groups are warning that the Commission is excluding analysis of policy options which could replace the current blanket communications data retention regime. The Commission would thereby violate its own impact assessment guidelines. Greens/EFA MEPs therefore insist alternative proposals such as expedited preservation and targeted collection of traffic data should also be analysed. The Commission must not exclude legislative solutions which are in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Only then can the Parliament properly exercise its legislative responsibility with regards to the Data Retention Directive.

To alert the Commission and safeguard a full investigation, six members of the Greens/EFA Internet Core Group have taken coordinated action to this end (1).

Jan Albrecht, speaking on behalf of the Internet Core Group MEPs participating in the action, said:

”It is essential that the Commission’s legislative proposals are based on unbiased and complete research. The exclusion of policy options which address fundamental shortcomings of blanket data retention is not meeting that standard. We are therefore reminding the Commission of its responsibility to prepare properly the proposals which will underpin the upcoming debate in Parliament and insist that the Commission follows its own rules for conducting impact assessments.”

(1) Priority questions on Data Retention Directive

Eva Lichtenberger:

Following the recent leak of a Commission document showing that the Commission has not been provided with the data to show that data retention is necessary: Will the Commission undertake to investigate – in the context of its current evaluation and impact assessment of the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC – the policy option to repeal the directive if compelling evidence is not forthcoming from the Member States?

Judith Sargentini:

Does the Commission believe that the simple assertion from some Member States that data retention is needed is enough to satisfy it that the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC is in line with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights? If yes, how is that compliant with the Commission’s Fundamental Rights check list COM(2010)573? And is this belief expressed in any of the policy options the Commission is considering in the context of its current evaluation and impact assessment of the directive?

Jan Albrecht:

The Commission is currently preparing a revision of Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks, also known as the data retention directive.

Some member states have difficulties, for constitutional, legal and political reasons, to transpose this directive into national law.
There are various examples of EU law harmonising national legislation interfering with fundamental rights only where it is in place (e.g. Art. 1 2003/641/EC, Art. 25 2011/92/EU, Art. 9 pp. 2006/123/EC, Art. 5 2001/29/EG, Art. 15 ex-2002/58/EC).

  1. In the Commission’s opinion, is it legally possible to amend the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC to no longer make blanket communications data retention mandatory throughout the EU, and to regulate and restrict national retention schemes where such exist?
  2. Is the Commission examining this option in the context of its current evaluation and impact assessment of the directive? If not, why not?

Carl Schlyter:

In the context of the current evaluation and impact assessment on the future options with regard to the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC, is is true the the Commission is not assessing the option of an EU-wide ban on blanket communications data retention in favour of a system of expedited preservation and targeted collection of traffic data as agreed on in the Council of Europe’s cybercrime convention? If so, why?

Christian Engström:

The  European Commission has declared protection and implementation of fundamental rights an important goal and has issued a fundamental rights check-list COM(2010)573. Has the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC been evaluated against this check-list? If not, why not? Is the check-list used in the context of the Commission’s current evaluation and impact assessment on the future options with regard to the Data Retention Directive? If yes, how? If not, why not?

Amelia Andersdotter:

In the Commission’s current evaluation and impact assessment on the future options with regard to the Data Retention Directive 2006/24/EC, how does the Commission take into account the Romanian Constitutional Court’s finding that blanket communications data retention violates the right to privacy under Article 8 ECHR? Is the Commission considering the policy option of following the Court’s decision and ban blanket communications data retention? If not, why not?

…………

Andra om datalagringsdirektivet: Hax

21 februari 2012

Some Arguments Against ACTA

Filed under: ACTA,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 16:03
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The ACTA agreement has sparked protests all over Europe

It is true that some claims made by some opponents to ACTA have been exaggerated, which is perhaps natural, but is still unfortunate. There is no need to paint ACTA as being worse than it actually is. There are enough things about ACTA to raise concern anyway.

Here are some of them:

”ACTA changes nothing, but is crucial” makes no sense
This is the main argument of the proponents of ACTA. In the US they say that ACTA will change no US laws, and in the EU they say that it will not change any EU laws. Yet, they say that signing ACTA is crucial. They have spent four years negotiating ACTA behind closed doors, and have used every trick in the book to keep both civil society and elected parliamentarians from being able to influence the outcome. But now that they are ready, they claim that what they have achieved is an agreement that changes nothing, but which must be signed anyway. This makes no sense.

If it were true that ACTA changes nothing, this would in itself be a sufficient argument to reject the treaty outright. Why bother pushing it through, despite all the public opposition, if it achieves nothing? The very least we can demand to even consider giving consent to the agreement is that its proponents come clear and explain what things they think it will change (for the better, in their opinion). Because of course ACTA will change things.

ACTA ties the hands of the parliaments
Copyright and copyright enforcement are hot political issues that are coming under increasing debate, both in the EU and on the national level. The Commission has already announced a number of upcoming dossiers, including an evaluation and revision of the Intellectual Property Rights Directive IPRED later this year.

Even if ACTA were to change nothing in the existing legislation, it still ties the hands of the European Parliament so that any future changes to copyright enforcement legislation can go in one direction only, regardless of whether the evaluation of the current policies would show that they are not working, and we need to find a better way. The national parliaments in the member states will be restricted in the same way by ACTA.

Considering how controversial the copyright policy area is, and contrasting this with the lack of transparency and parliamentary consultation that has surrounded the ACTA negotiations from the start, allowing ACTA to tie the hands of elected parliaments in this manner is not acceptable.

ACTA is useless against counterfeiting
China, Russia, India, and Brazil are the biggest manufacturers of counterfeit goods in the world. None of them are parties to ACTA, and they have all publicly declared that they never will be, since they consider ACTA too extreme.

Even the Pirate Party agrees that commercial goods counterfeiting is a bad thing, and that we should combat it. The idea to have an international agreement on goods counterfeiting with the BRIC countries makes sense. The idea to have one without them does not.

The ACTA agreement may well turn out to be harmful to the legitimate fight against counterfeit goods in the market, if it blocks the possibility of reaching an more limited agreement on only goods counterfeiting with the BRIC countries.

ACTA is another brick in the wall
When considering what ACTA might or might not mean, it is important to remember that ACTA did not suddenly appear out of the blue in a political vacuum. For the last 15 or 20 years we have seen a number of initiatives related to copyright enforcement:  WCT, DMCA, EUCD, IPRED, the Data Retention Directive, Hadopi, the Digital Economy Act, SOPA, PIPA, and now ACTA. They have all gone in one direction only: expanded rights for copyright holders and stricter enforcement.

It is true that we can debate how big or small a step ACTA is, but that it is yet another step in the same direction is irrefutable. If it goes through, the copyright lobby will exert all its power to have every ambiguity in it interpreted to their advantage, just as they have with every previous new law or agreement in this area. This is something we need to keep in mind when discussing how to interpret various details in the treaty.

Shutting people off the Internet
It is true that ACTA does not directly demand that internet service providers should take action against accused file sharers.

Instead, ACTA talks about promoting ”cooperation” between internet service providers and rights holders. In an earlier draft there was a footnote saying that ”three-strikes” was an example such cooperation, but when the draft leaked and there were public protests, the explanatory footnote was removed. The agreement text still talks about its desire to promote cooperation between internet service providers and rights holders, though, and no suggestion has been made as to what it might mean if not ”three-strikes”.

The language of this provision in ACTA has been made less clear, but it still encourages the idea of shutting people off the Internet.

Damages based on retail value
Article 9.1 of ACTA says that damages should be measured by the suggested retail price. This may perhaps sound harmless, but it can lead to completely absurd consequences.

A two-terabyte hard disk can hold about half a million songs. Calculated at the market price of one euro per song, the damages for having a 2 TB disk full of music would be half a million euro. This is in no way an extreme example, it is something that a lot of teenagers have. You can argue that they shouldn’t, or you can wonder why, but this does not change the fact that a lot of teenagers do. According to ACTA, their family could risk having to pay half a million euro in damages.

There have been a number of cases in the US where file sharers have been ordered by the courts to pay astronomical damages, but this is not something we should import to Europe.

Access to medicines
The issue of ACTA’s impact on access to medicines in third world countries is very complex, and I am not an expert on it. All I know is that organizations like Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontières, who deal with this issue in practice, are concerned that ACTA will harm access to legal generic drugs in poor countries.

We know that there have been problems with perfectly legal shipments of generic drugs being seized and destroyed by customs already under present rules, and if Oxfam and MSF say that ACTA could make matters worse, that’s good (bad) enough for me.

Compatibility with EU fundamental rights
Is ACTA compatible with fundamental rights in Europe? Different legal experts seem to give different answers.

The legal opinion that JURI got from the Parliament’s legal service said, in very guarded language that “It appears that the Agreement per se does not impose any obligation on the Union that is manifestly incompatible with fundamental rights.” (emphasis added)

The Assessment of ACTA for the INTA Committee in June 2011 seemed to be of the opposite opinion and said that ”unconditional consent would be an inappropriate response from the European Parliament given the issues that have been identified with ACTA at it stands.”

The Study on ACTA and fundamental rights by Professor Douwe Korff (London) and Professor Ian Brown (Oxford) list a number of concerns with ACTA, including some mentioned above, and concludes that ”This makes the entire Agreement, in our opinion, incompatible with fundamental European human rights instruments and -standards.”

In the absence of an autoritative ruling by the European Court of Justice, all we can say is that at best, ACTA is a borderline case.

Fundamental rights in third countries
It is possible that the European Court of Justice could provide guidance on how to implement ACTA to get it within European fundamental rights, but that leaves the question of what will happen in other countries when ACTA is implemented there. In an number of places in ACTA it says that this or that provision does not have to be implemented if it contradicts legislation on fundamental rights.

In countries outside the EU, which do not have the European fundamental rights as part of the constitution, there is a big risk that ACTA’s provisions will be implemented in a way that would infringe fundamental rights as defined in Europe. If this is the case, for the EU to ratify ACTA would be in breach of the obligation in the Treaties to promote the spread of fundamental rights in the rest of the world.

…………

More on the subject: EDRI – What’s Wrong With ACTA

17 februari 2012

Greens in the EU Paliament: ”Say No to ACTA”

Filed under: ACTA,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 14:14
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Watch the video on YouTube (1:30 min)

I appear in a YouTube video shot by the Greens/EFA group (that we Pirates belong to) in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The message is very simple:

Say No to ACTA!

28 januari 2012

ACTA Stipulates Increased Damages For File Sharing

Filed under: ACTA,English,informationspolitik — Christian Engström @ 15:02
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What the copyright lobby never wanted to see: Elected members of the Polish parliament protesting against ACTA

”ACTA changes nothing” has become the favorite mantra of those who want to push the agreement through at any cost. This in itself is of course a strong signal that there is something very suspect about the whole issue. If ACTA really changes nothing, why are they spending so much effort on getting it through?

The answer is that those who are saying that ACTA changes nothing are either lying, or have been misled themselves. The whole purpose of ACTA is to increase the enforcement of intellectual property rights, including on the internet. Of course it changes things.

One example of a very concrete change that ACTA will bring if it is adopted, is the damages that you will have to pay to the film or record company if you are convicted of illegal file sharing.

According to ACTA, the damages for illegal file sharing will be higher, in some cases absurdly high.

In Article 9.1 of the ACTA agreement, it says that

… In determining the amount of damages for infringement of intellectual property rights, a [signing country’s] judicial authorities shall have the authority to consider, inter alia, any legitimate measure of value the right holder submits, which may include lost profits, the value of the infringed goods or services measured by the market price, or the suggested retail price.

(emphasis added)

In other words: to calculate the damages for having a disk full of illegally copied songs, you would multiply the number of songs with the suggested retail price for a song. But although this may look pretty harmless at first glance, it will lead to very drastic consequences in practice.

A two-terabyte disk can hold roughly half a million songs. If you calculate that at the market price of 1 euro per song, which is quite normal, then the damages for having a 2 TB disk full of music would be half a million euro.

Would that be proportionate or not? Remember that this is not an extreme example, it is something that lots of teenagers do. Would it really be proportionate that the family would have to sell their house and all their possessions if they were found out?

Under current European laws, damages are (at least in principle) limited to actual losses that the party that wins can show that he has actually suffered. They have to be proportional. Not even the lawyers for a film or record company would be able to convince a European court that they have actually lost half a million euro in non-purchases from a teenager who has never seen that kind of money in his life.

But according to ACTA, the film or record companies would no longer have to prove that they have actually lost the money. All they need to do is to multiply the number of songs with the price for one song to get the amount of damages measured by the suggested retail price.

A half million euro claim against a teenager with a 2 TB disk would be considered disproportionate and absurd by any European court today. With ACTA, awarding those damages becomes mandatory.

The copyright lobby knows this, or course. They have been deeply involved in the ACTA negotiations since day one. It is only the citizens and the elected members of parliaments that have been kept in the dark for as long as possible. The plan was to get ACTA signed, sealed, and delivered before too many elected politicians in parliaments knew the real consequences of ACTA as well.

We must now make sure that that plan does not work.

…………

More on ACTA and damages: FFII.org,

5 januari 2012

Pirate Party Platform for the 2009 EU Elections

Swedish newspapers the day after the 2009 EU elections, where the Pirate Party got 7% of the votes

Before the EU elections in 2009, we gathered representatives from an number of European Pirate Parties in Uppsala in Sweden, to formulate a basic common platform. In Sweden, we called this common platform Uppsaladeklarationen, and it served as the basis for our successful bid for seats in the European Parliament.

I repost it here for future reference.

The Uppsala Declaration

European Pirate Parties Declaration of a basic platform for the European Parliamentary Election of 2009

Policy

Copyright

Copyright is well out of touch with today’s cultural landscape. It has evolved into an obstacle to creativity, particularly grass roots creativity. We need at least these changes to copyright law:

– Copyright is commercial
Copyright only regulates commercial activity. (Local law usually defines ”commercial activity” in sufficient detail.) Non-commercial activity is never regulated by copyright law.

– Sharply reduced monopoly term
Copyright is a limited commercial monopoly that expires well within one generation. The exact term is left to the local pirate party.

– No media or hardware levies
No levies to compensate for copying should be permitted – but we allow for government scholarships or similar, which are not compensation. This way, it’s obviously unilateral, and the copyright lobby doesn’t have the implied right to accept or reject.

– Parliament writes copyright law, not the lobby
Technical measures that prevent consumers from using culture in ways permitted by law, so-called DRM technologies, are outlawed.

– Derivative works always permitted
Instead of having derivative works normally prohibited except in quite fuzzy fair use exceptions, under our copyright, derivative works are always permitted (not covered by the original copyright), with exceptions to this very specifically enumerated in law with minimal room for interpretation (like ”direct translations of a book”).

Patents

The patent system of today has lost touch with its original intentions, and has developed into something that is harmful to innovation and economic progress in many areas.

Pharmaceutical patents raise many ethical concerns, not least in relation to people in developing countries. They are also a driving force behind increasing costs for publicly funded health care systems in the member states.

We demand an initiative for a European study on the economic impact of pharmaceutical patents, compared to other possible systems for financing drug research, and on alternatives to the current system.

Patents on life (including patents on seeds and on genes) and software patents should not be allowed.

Civil Rights

EU and its member states should adhere to the highest standards of democracy. Therefore such principles as transparent government, speedy and fair trial and freedom of speech should always be respected. In this day and age it is crucial to preserve the legal protection of citizens from arbitrary exercise of authority. The EU has an important role to play in shining a light on violations against civil rights in member states.

A democratic society needs a transparent state and non-transparent citizens. The citizens should be able to freely gather to formulate and express their opinions without fear of government surveillance. To expand this to an information society the right to anonymity in communication must be expanded. Therefore the secrecy of correspondence should encompass all digital communication.

Votes Strategy

It is the collective consensus of the gathered European Leaders that with the scarce resources of a new founded contender party, those resources must be focused on a well identified front bowling pin. Statistical data states that election participation has been on a continual down slope for the past decade and a half for first-time voters, while at the same time, the core support for our issues are in the 18-30 age range. This data is supported by membership demographics.

Therefore, the identified key catalyst target group is university students. Previous experience from elections where Pirate Parties have participated show that we are unusually strong at technical universities; up to ten times the national average. We need to broaden this scope to all universities. Universities are ideal in that they are a concentrated recruiting ground with people who are generally passionate about what they take part in.

Using Sweden as a template for numbers, assuming that these numbers are similar across other European countries with Pirate Parties, there are 300k university students. 100k votes are needed to get into the European Parliament. This means that we would need 33% of the votes of the university students, which is not a realistic number. Therefore, we must regard universities all across Europe as a recruiting ground for activists and ambassadors, who recruit voters in their turn. For example, there are another 125k 18-year-olds not yet in university, but who usually have friends there. There are friends, relatives, and social circles.

In other words, the key is to supply political passion about the issues to young people who would otherwise typically not vote at all, and encourage them to become recruiting ambassadors in their turn. There is no identified difference here between different political issues of ours.

To accomplish this, we need to supply these ambassadors with confidence, rhetoric and, where possible, political material to distribute in turn. This is a logistical challenge that needs to be met by each individual European Pirate Party.

European Parliament Strategy

In the European Parliament, it is the party groups that are the key to getting influence. Once elected, we will discuss with the groups that could be of interest, to determine which group is closest to us, and join that group.

Inside the group, we will do our utmost to persuade the other members of the group to join our position on the issues that fall within our political platform. In return, we´ll listen to the advice of the group on all other issues, and vote with the group unless we have some strong reasons not to.

When we are approached by lobbyists and other parties on issues that are outside the Pirate platform, we will refer them to the relevant person in the group and encourage them to make their case to him. This will allow us to focus on the issues that we really care about.

The decision making process in the EU is very complex, and in order to keep on top of what is happening we will need the support of the internet community. The Pirate movement is a grass roots movement that builds on the involvement of many activists working together using modern information technology. This way of working will be a strength that we can use to our benefit once elected.

While working with different issues in the EU, we will keep in mind the principles that we think should be the guiding stars of the EU itself:

– Subsidiarity
Decisions should be taken as close to the citizens as possible. The EU should only handle issues that cannot be handled by the individual member states themselves.

– Transparency
The decision making process in the EU today works in a way that makes it very difficult for both media and ordinary citizens to follow what is happening and take part in the debate. This has to be improved. We need to work towards more transparency and openness.

– Accountability
The European Parliament is the only institution in Brussels that is directly elected by the voters. The role of parliament should be strengthened, so that power is moved out of the back rooms and into the open.

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