One of our key concerns with the so-called "voluntary" six strikes
agreement set up between the ISPs and the content companies (with a major shove
from the White House) was the fact that there was no one representing the users
at the table. As much as the White House has insisted that the entertainment industry alone represents "all the stakeholders,"
the simple fact
is that copyright law is supposed to benefit the public, not the legacy industry gatekeepers.
And while it may have been the way things were done around copyright in the past, the public's reaction to SOPA should have changed that equation. No longer should decisions around copyright law that effect the public internet users be made without their input
. And, yet, that's exactly what happened with the six strikes agreement. Even if the new Center for Copyright Infringement (CCI), which has been set up to run the new six strikes program, has appointed
some consumer rights advocates to its powerless "advisory" board, shouldn't we go back to the drawing board and have a true, open discussion
about these things that includes
the users of the internet? After all, aren't they the true stakeholders here?
The folks over at the EFF are calling for a complete "reset" on the agreement
, and saying that it's time to do it correctly: with internet users at the table, rather than kept out of the room. The statement notes that the advisory board is not the same as including internet users in the process:
An advisory board is just that: a group of advisors, not decisionmakers. No matter how you slice it, subscribers don't have a seat at the table now any more than they did in the earlier negotiations.
Instead, they point out that the only way this is going to be done in a way that's fair and that actually serves the true purpose of copyright law is to start again, and have the discussion done in public where the public has a true say in what happens:
So here's an idea: press reset. This collaboration has been years in the making, with the ISPs under heavy pressure from the content industries and government officials. It may be that they made the best deal they could under the circumstances, but since then the world has changed. If the ISPs decided to take this back to drawing board, we think their customers will stand with them, loudly and publicly -- but only if they also insist that their customers have voice in the process.
Indeed. This may have seemed like a crazy idea pre-SOPA blackout, but since then, the public is aware and energized on this issue -- and they want to participate
in the conversation. The number one point we've heard over and over again since the January 18th blackouts is about how the public can get involved
in a positive agenda around copyright. Here's a key opportunity. The big ISPs who signed on to this six strikes deal should call for a brand new discussion
, one that is not done in a backroom, but is done in public, where the public can take part.