EU's Advisor On Supporting Net Activists Previously Forced From German Government...By Net Activists

from the really-the-right-person? dept

The Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, Neelie Kroes, recently made quite a stir when she dubbed copyright "a tool to punish and withhold". Now she's back with two major projects: a pan-European open data stategy and the "No Disconnect Strategy":

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes has invited Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a former Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, in Germany, to advise on how to provide ongoing support to Internet users, bloggers and cyber-activists living under authoritarian regimes. This appointment forms a key element of a new "No Disconnect Strategy" to uphold the EU's commitment to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected both online and off-line, and that internet and other information and communication technology (ICT) can remain a driver of political freedom, democratic development and economic growth.
Of course, that's rather rich coming from a region where France already allows disconnections as punishments (HADOPI), and where the UK has legislation in place that will allow it to do the same (Digital Economy Act). But it turns out that the ironies are even deeper.

The reason that Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg -- once seen as a likely successor to Germany's current Chancellor, Angela Merkel -- is no longer the Federal Minister of Defence, and of Economics and Technology, is that he resigned when it emerged that he had plagiarized significant parts of his doctorate.

After initial denials, Guttenberg was forced to admit the extent of his plagiarism thanks largely to a crowdsourced wiki called GutenPlag (original German) offering "collaborative documentation of plagiarism", which went through his thesis searching for passages taken from elsewhere without acknowledgement. In total, it claims to have found "1218 plagiarized fragments from 135 sources, on 371 out of 393 pages (94.4%), in 10421 plagiarized lines (63.8%)." There's even an interactive, color-coded visualization of what happened where.

Certainly, Guttenberg has been punished: as well as losing his position in the German government, he was also stripped of his doctorate. But his appointment as (unpaid) advisor to the "No Disconnect Strategy" raises a question. Is somebody whose downfall was mostly brought about by a website and its crowdsourced revelations really the right person to lead a project that aims to support online activists?

There is also the issue of Guttenberg's multiple copyright infringements. This was investigated with a view to charges being brought, but then, as Wikipedia explains:

In November 2011, the prosecution dropped the charges, having found 23 relevant copyright violations but only marginal economic damage. Guttenberg had to make a payment of 20,000 Euros to a charitable foundation, the court ruled.
In jurisdictions with extreme copyright laws, that "marginal economic damage" argument wouldn't be enough to protect those accused of infringement from prosecution or from being disconnected. So again the question has to be: is Guttenberg really going to understand what "No Disconnect" means to human rights activists living under authoritarian regimes when he got off so lightly himself?

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 3:52am

    Nothing like a cheap plagarist to lead the pirating masses.

    Seems perfectly right. Why would anyone who supports piracy and "free and open internet" have a problem with a guy who is an admitted plagarist? It's a marriage made in heaven.

     

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  2.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 13th, 2011 @ 4:09am

    Re:

    Oh for heaven's sake... we are NOT pro-piracy.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 4:38am

    irony - I just don't get it


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 4:42am

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 4:54am

    Re:

    Dumbass:

    "Sharing music is part of people’s nature and the songwriters want to legalize file-sharing, while compensating the artists whose works are shared."

    Basically, they want to tax the internet the same way they tax blank CDs and DVDs. Fucking idiotic.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re:

    No, you are just pro everything that is required for piracy, pro the results of piracy, and pro the people who provide all the tools for piracy.

    Sort of like an alcoholic who can't admit they have a drinking problem, you are all over it... just not admitting to reality.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:15am

    Re: Re:

    Oh for heaven's sake... we are NOT pro-piracy.


    Didja ever hear the political story about LBJ? The one whose punchline has LBJ saying, “... I just want to make the son of a bitch deny it.” I'll look it up for you if you're too young to know who LBJ is. ( “Hey, hey LBJ, how many babies did you kill today?” )

    Anyhow, there's some political wisdom in that story about how LBJ just wants to hear the other candidate deny some vicious political lie: Some people are going to believe the worst no matter what. And more people are going to enjoy repeating the vicious gossip even when they know it's untrue.

    The copyright monopolists are going to accuse opponents of being “pro piracy“ no matter what. Just like LBJ they want to make you deny it. Don't play that game.

    Instead, point out how the copyright deal has gone bad. Society doesn't believe in copyright anymore. Because the greedheads have bought the politicians in order to screw the voters.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm pro-internet, oh, I see where the problem lies . . .

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you support the structures, if you support the results, and if you base you business models on the action, it's not hard to be tagged as a supporter of the actual act.

    Nobody here seems to want to distance themselves from piracy. Rather, Mike and crew more often than not use piracy bound "news sources" (torrent freak, example) to make their cases. Mike will come out and say "I am against piracy", and then tell you how to make money off of piracy.

    Seems sort of obvious, no?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, it only seems obvious to you.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You wanna be a morally upright loser? Or do you want to win? You're in a political fight.

    They spread political rat-poison about you. You turn around and drop a nuke on the: Catch 'em in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    He i have the perfect solution to stop jaywalking.
    Everytime somebody jaywalks, we cut one leg off.

    What, you think that is too harsh? You must support people running into traffic like maniacs then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 5:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mike and crew more often than not use piracy bound "news sources" (torrent freak, example) to make their cases.

    So, just because Torrentfreak reports on something it suddenly becomes less true than the spin doctored stories output by pocketed media? Yeah, that sounds convincing.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    We're definitely anti-shilltard. The fact that you must paint this blog in the way you do is just too revealing. Poor shlob.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Learn how to throw a political punch, ya weak sissy!

    Have one of your friends read your comment to aloud. Is it all effective?

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 6:01am

    Re:

    Nothing like a cheap plagarist to lead the pirating masses.

    You mean like when John McCain stole songs for his campaign? Yeah, what a shame.

     

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  17.  
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    The eejit (profile), Dec 13th, 2011 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You mean by cutting off all governments everywhere from the Internet?

    Seems like a strong plan to me.

     

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  18.  
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    The eejit (profile), Dec 13th, 2011 @ 6:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Fox News went to court for their Constitutional right to lie, defame and slander anyone who disagrees with their bias.

    Perhaps we should do the same to the Congresscritters in favour of this law. After all, it's our Constitutional right...

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 6:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The only thing I want to distance myself is copyrights.

    Thank God I can just ignore it.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 6:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am appalled that you would do that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 7:48am

    He gets the high court treatment. If any normal person were caught infringing as much as he had infringed the economic damages would have probably been found to be in the millions.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    Re:

    "Why would anyone who supports piracy and "free and open internet" have a problem with a guy who is an admitted plagarist?"

    You assume that plagiarism == piracy/copying. They're two different things. I don't care for copy protection laws (call it piracy or copying or what have you, doesn't make it any more wrong). I'm more concerned about people who intentionally claim that they came up with an idea when they know that they copied the idea (which would be lying/deceitful).

    At least you admit that you don't support a free and open Internet. You support an Internet ran by big government established corporate interests, which is what broadcasting and cableco have become. Even restaurants and other venues are deterred from hosting independent performers thanks to overreaching laws that allow collection societies to easily demand ridiculous licensing fees with legal threats under the pretext that someone 'might' infringe. This is what you support, a government established cultural cartel.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "No, you are just pro everything that is required for piracy"

    You are pro everything required for murder. You support the sale of kitchen knives, right?

    People who support the right to bear arms are also in support of murder.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, talk about a dumbass.

    Pro kitchen knives? What the fuck are you getting at? Do you honestly think that kitchen knives are bought and sold only to kill people? Are you fucking whacked?

    Sorry for the swearing, but it's dubmasses like you that make it so hard to have a reasonable discussion here.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 13th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re:

    "You assume that plagiarism == piracy/copying. They're two different things."

    They are the same in the end - he took something that wasn't his and claimed rights to it he didn't have.

    Is there some sort of "scale of evil" here that makes plagiarism somehow so much worse than pirating content? Is this like prison inmates who really hate rapists? Is there some magic that makes it possible to look down at one form of criminal, and try to keep your own actions somehow above board?

     

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  26.  
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    Jamie (profile), Dec 13th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The kitchen knives argument is perfectly valid.

    Kitchen knife manufacturers produce tools that are designed to be used by the general public, and which have clear and intended legal purposes. However, some people choose to use the tool for something other than its intended purpose, and may cause (physical) harm to others.

    Many of the tools used for online piracy are designed for use by the general public, and have clear and intended legal purposes. However, some people choose to use the tools for something other than their intended purposed, and this may cause (financial) harm to others.

    What's the difference here? In both cases you have tools with significant non-infringing uses, which are abused by some for purposes other than what was intended. In both cases the misuse can cause harm to others. Yet you say that all possible measures must be taken to stop one misuse, whereas the other can go unregulated?

     

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  27.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Dec 13th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That just follows through to the ridiculous extent of your posited argument about why we and this site MUST be pro-pirate.

    It's actually really easy to follow that logic to where he went.

    The only dumbass here is one who would then equate "piracy" with alcoholism and addictions when it is clear you know less than nothing about either of them.

    That's what makes it so hard to have a reasonable discussion with you.

     

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  28.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 14th, 2011 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    torrentfreak is piracy bound news? In what universe are you living on?

    Oh because the word "torrent" is in the site's name.
    Don't get in a torrent of rain then... lest you be painted a pirate too.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 14th, 2011 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yes, there is a scale of evil, it's called a lawbook. You should read it some time.

    Just look up the definitions of copyright infringement, theft and plagiarism. I'm sure you'll find it highly enlightening.

     

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  30.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 14th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You talk about reasonable discussion. That's rich, coming from the guy that resorts to name calling, spindoctoring and just plain lying.

    Come back when you have valid points to discuss, instead of talking points.

     

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  31.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Dec 14th, 2011 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    All-or-nothing thinking is a psychological disorder. You might consider having that looked at.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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