Last week European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave his annual State of the Union speech in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Two major points of the Address included Connectivity, or WiFi for everyone (can we get a big ‘Amen’?), and Copyright.
“We propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.” – Jean-Claude Juncker #SOTEU
“I want journalists, publishers and authors to be paid fairly for their work, whether it is made in studios or living rooms, whether it is disseminated offline or online, whether it is published via a copying machine or commercially hyperlinked on the web.” – Jean-Claude Juncker #SOTEU
Both of these themes, which have received a significant deal of criticism, are of utmost importance in the digital society in which we live.
Let’s look at the importance of WiFi and the Commission proposal. Connectivity and access are paramount to guaranteeing actual citizen participation in our digital society. “WIFI FOR EVERYONE“ is challenging but technically possible. Only divergent interests may stand in the way. Stakeholders should take some social responsibility on this, setting their specific economic and political interests aside for once to make this happen. EU citizens should put pressure on stakeholders in order to obtain a clear roadmap and a timeline, closely monitoring the progresses of the relevant actions.
In regards to the Copyright proposal, we must not forget that we live in the “sharing-society”. Nowadays, users like, or probably more accurately, “live” to share. They share data, images, songs, texts, just about anything one can imagine. Any proposal for a regulation that goes against the sharing society is useless. The sharing society will always prevail over (traditional) copyright measures. Rightholders should therefore look for compensation in other ways, for example by focusing on matching their content with relevant advertising, appropriate lead generation campaigns, etc. It’s inappropriate and impracticable to impose proactive monitoring obligations concerning potential copyright infringement on providers of user generated/shared content.
– on users to respect copyright,
– on rightsholders to request enforcement of it, and
– on involved platforms to cooperate when notified (not to patrol the Internet) or when they become aware of infringements in order to stop unlawful conduct.
Thankfully these proposals are not yet regulations and there is still time for the EP to make significant improvements to what has been suggested.