Does The European Commission Really Think The Internet Is A 'Value Tree' That Requires A 'Transmission Belt Of Euros'?
from the forward-to-the-past dept
Currently, the European Commission is conducting a public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules. Unusually, the deadline for this was extended from the original 5 February to 5 March
so you still have time to make a submission if you wish — it’s open to everyone:
All stakeholders are welcome to contribute to this consultation. Contributions are particularly sought from consumers, users, authors, performers, publishers, producers, broadcasters, intermediaries, distributors and other service providers, Collective Management Organisations, public authorities and Member States.
Optimists might see the extra time as a sign that the Commission is genuinely interested in gathering as wide a range of public views on this subject as possible. But a post from Paul Keller raises the possibility that this is just window-dressing, and that it has already made up its mind about what it will do on copyright regardless of what the public thinks. As he explains:
In recent weeks officials at the European Commission’s Internal Market and Services Directorate General (which is in charge of copyright policy) have been passing around this diagram of what they call the ‘Internet Ecosystem value tree’:
Here’s Keller’s summary of what that shows:
The Internet Ecosystem value tree implies that the primary purpose of the Internet — like that of all distribution channels that came before it — is to channel content from producers (the Authors/Artists/Audiovisual and Record Producers/Newspapers and Books Publishers/Broadcasters/Other Creative Industries in the schema above) to a separate group of people called Consumers. In exchange for this the Consumers will pay Distributors and Internet Platforms money for their services, which is then augmented with advertising income. Distributors and Internet Platforms use parts of their income to pay for the content.
What the Commission implies here is that if this transmission belt of Euros does not work, then the entire Internet ecosystem will die off and as a result any public policy aimed at protecting the digital environment must ensure that content producers are paid.
Of course, that’s a frighteningly retrogressive vision of the Internet that seems to regard it as simply the latest incarnation of television. As Keller points out:
Projects like Wikipedia, uses such as text and data mining, online access to cultural heritage and educational resources, and transformative use of the Internet do not follow the same logic as the traditional content industry value chains. Here limited user rights and long terms of protection become problematic and increased enforcement translates into chilling effects.
At the same time all of these types of uses are exactly what makes the Internet special and drives its potential to accelerate innovation and to democratize access to knowledge, tools and culture. The Internet is the first mass medium that is simultaneously enabling market driven uses, uses that are driven by public policy objectives (such as education or access to culture), and uses driven by people’s desire to create, collaborate and contribute to the commons.
The rest of his post makes similarly insightful points, and is well-worth reading. If the European Commission’s Internal Market and Services Directorate General really is thinking of the Internet as a “value tree” that requires a “transmission belt of Euros”, let’s just hope someone there reads Keller’s post and realizes what a terrible mistake that would be.