Sunday Apr 22, 2007

Last Chance on Euro-DMCA

I wrote to my MEPs last week (that's Members of the European Parliament) using the wonderful Write To Them about IPRED2. Here's what I said, in a personal capacity:

Dear Daniel Hannan, Peter Skinner, Ashley Mote, Caroline Lucas, James Elles, Sharon Bowles, Nirj Deva, Richard Ashworth, Nigel Farage and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne,

I note that the IPR Enforcement Directive comes to vote soon at the European Parliament. I am very concerned with this legislation and with the chilling effect it is likely to have on the emerging culture and economy of the Internet. By providing established large businesses with a new tool to exploit, we risk the dampening of the innovation that is happening online.

This is an unproven area, and as the US experience with the DMCA shows, unleashing powerful sanctions at the behest of existing businesses results in random abuse rather than its prevention. This directive may have aspects which lobbyists from the drug, software and communications industries can make sound appealing, but it will restrain open source software development in Europe and the pioneering of new European businesses. It is only pro-innovation for those with existing monopolies or near-monopolies.

If this directive had been in place before, Oracle could have crushed MySQL, Microsoft could have crushed OpenOffice.org and Skype would never have happened. Please vote against it.

Yours sincerely,

Simon Phipps

I said "against" since the e-mail was already long enough without articulating the pros and cons of each proposed amendment - I know they will get the point! So far I have had placeholder responses from Lucas, Bowles and Mote and a real reply from Farage. I've offered to discuss the legislation with any of them that want to contact me direct.

As Glyn and Cory both point out, if you are a citizen of a country that is a member of the EU, today is probably your last chance to beg your representatives not to cave to the unholy alliance of drug, media and software companies that wants to make criminal sanctions available against copyright and patent abusers. It needs to remain a civil matter, and the proposed amendments do their best to keep it that way.

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