One step forward, two steps back. That’s the curent situation leading to a global cacophony on the Three-strikes issue.
Under the pressure of (among others) an EU parliament resolution (633 favorable votes, 13 against and 16 abstensions) to open the secret negotiations on the ACTA treaty, the text of a public draft was released April 21, 2010. Unfortunately the document doesn’t reflect individual countries positions (refering to square bracketed options in the texte). Interestingly, the April 16 press release following the Wellington 8th round ACTA negotiations explicitely mentions no governement will mandate a “gaduated response” or “three-strikes”:
” […] While the participants recognise the importance of responding effectively to the challenge of Internet piracy, they confirmed that no participant is proposing to require governments to mandate a ‘graduated response’ or ‘three strikes’ approach to copyright infringement on the Internet. […] ”
While this is good news in one sense, I cannot refrain from juxtaposing it to the growing body of countries enacting laws and ruling exactly in the opposit direction. In addition to France (HADOPI) we now have Great Britain who has rushed its Digital Economy Bill receiving royal assent (podcast here). Recently, Ireland has ruled in favor of such approaches dismissing concerns of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.
My point here is simple: this whole issue is going nowhere! Given the amount of controversy and the conflicting approaches and interests, it should be a clear sign that the legal Three-strikes approach is doomed no matter how it’s put. Internet access is globally recognized as a public good and as such its access is becoming a fundamental right. Whatever laws are or might be enacted in this direction are bound to be technically innapplicable. Last but not least, such laws being essentially territorial will innevitably lead to offshoring services in countries not having similar provisions or simply put in the cloud providing the services through encrypted channels.
So how do we move forward in a sustainable way ? Education to have people (kids and adults alike) understand that digital doesn’t necessarly mean free. If something has value for someone it’s probably because it’s creator is trying to make a living out of it and therefore deserves some form of compensation or credit. New business models making piracy not worth the effort over legit alternatives. And a bit of technology to get rid of the deceptive user experience thus reinstating the user in his role and rights. By all means : Deceptive laws won’t do the job! We need to pull ourselves together and have a real public debat about this, including in the loop espeially the Users AND public policies as a guiding framework for the greater good.