Anti-Piracy Lobby Defeats European Democracy

An amendment designed to protect Internet users from the anti-piracy lobby has been rejected by President Sarkozy of the European Council. The rejection goes against the will of the European Parliament, where 88% of the members already voted in favor of the amendment, which was originally destined to protect file-sharers from Internet disconnection under the '3 strikes' framework.

When the European Parliament accepted the amendment this September, it did so to protect the rights and freedoms of Internet users. This was much needed, as in recent years, anti-piracy lobby groups have called for tougher monitoring of Internet users and are actively working to erode their rights further.

The amendment, drafted by Guy Bono and other members of the European Parliament, was supposed to put a halt to the march of the anti-piracy lobby. However, despite the fact that is was adopted by an overwhelming majority, with 573 parliament members voting in favor with just 74 rejections, the European Council went against this democratic vote.

In September, Bono stated in a response to the vote: “You do not play with individual freedoms like that,” going on to say that the French government should review its three-strikes law. Sarkozy had other plans though, and in his position of President of the European Council, he convinced his friends this Thursday to reject the proposal.

The rejection also goes against conclusions from the EU culture ministers last week, who sided with the more balanced view of the European Commission, by encouraging copyright holders to work on offering “high quality, accessible, easy to use and consumer friendly” content online – instead of chasing pirates.

Guy Bono was appalled by the recent decision of the Council, which he referred to as “an arrangement between friends.” Not all is lost though, the amendment might pass in January or February 2009, when it will be proposed again. However, as Bono noted, this initial rejection is likely to result in a negative image of European democracy.

It seems that the lobbying efforts of the MPAA, RIAA and others have paid off, and for France and other European member states the road to a ‘three-strikes law’ for alleged pirates is now wide open again.

In France, Sarkozy will now go forward with implementing his controversial three-strikes law. We can only hope that other European countries wont follow this example. What a great demokarzy Europe has.

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