Law in the Internet Society

The Global License :Smoke and mirrors.

October 2011 : Time to do a check up. France has been trying to sue children for the past three years under HADOPI legislation, and apparently it is not working the way the french government expected it to work. Not efficient, too burdensome. Fair enough, let’s come up with something else. As the next presidential elections will be held in June 2012, the Socialist Party running for presidency is getting ready and is already considering a new project : The Global Licence. Socialists (few of them though) have been standing against HADOPI and proposed, when the DADVSI legislation was adopted, this Global Licence thing.

Here is the way it would work. In order to compensate authors, each and everyone of us, will pay in between 5 and 6 euros a month as an extra on our Internet bills. This compensation will be included in the price we pay to Internet Service Providers. That way, we’ll be able to download whatever we want, without being worried about the fines we would have had to pay under HADOPI legislation. Sounds good ? The idea came out when discussions on DADVSI law took place in 2005 in the French Parliament. The GL had been rejected at that time. The idea was to legalize P2P? exchanges. Internet users will then pay a fixed price to Internet carriers. The money collected would go to collecting societies somekind of SACEM (the equivalent of the ASCAP in the US). The money will then be dispatch among authors. Right now P2P? exchanges are not legal under Hadopi law.

The dispatch would be done according to the traffic , meaning that the artists would be compensated according to how much people downloaded their work. That sounds fair right ? That way we forget about HADOPI, we download and upload freely (well for few euros at least) and artists get compensated. Why not ? But the questions is how is the dispatch of the money going to be handled ? Pro GL say that it would be enough to calculate the traffic of each artist. So the more an artist is shared and downloaded the more money he or she will get. The calculation will be based on popularity. What we are told now is that this system will enable small or unknown artists to get something, even a little bit. No more intermediaries (record company, the music industry in general). Authors would get proper compensation, and that is the most important thing right ? Here we go. The project is obviously designed to protect unknown or non famous artists and we get rid of Hadopi at the same time. At least that what we are being told. Who is going to calculate the traffic, how is it going to be calculated ? Does it mean that exchanges will be monitored and controlled somehow (more than right now) ? Who will control ? Internet providers, independent societies ? Intrusive surveillance of the flows of datas (already happening but that would become somehow official in this case) ? The calculation would be made according to quantity, the compensation would be done in terms of consumption, not in terms of quality. Again, this new structure would be based on consumption, the key word. And what if I’m encrypting my flow of datas ?

Surprinsingly the debate around the GL has focused on authors and compensation. Compensating artists seems to be an obssession for the GL advocates. And they try to sell us this concept of GL, because it is fair, because it is right, and because that the way it should be. We cannot turn down a project that protects artists right ?

But in the end this looks like just another tax. No one in the debate, whether experts or politicians have asked themselves : can people pay for it, do the people want to pay for it ? Right, it is just few more euros on your Internet bill. But believe it or not some can’t just afford to add those 5 or 6 euros ! And why would they anyway. It is not even about about much we will pay, it is about paying for it. Again, we pay or access to culture. The only concerns they have is : would artist be fairly compensated ? who’s going to pay for calculating the traffic ? I hear those concerns. But what I believe is that as long as we don’t want to understand that the structure of all this is wrong we are not going to do anything good. The music industry collapses : face it. The way we access culture is changing : deal with it ! Thinking within a structure of intellectual property does not help at all. You want culture, then pay for it that the way it works now. Edouard Barreiro, representative of UFC Que Choisir (a french consumer association) said that people would be more willing to access culture because they would pay for it . New philosophical statement : I pay, therefore I want. Is that all about it ?

I do not believe this is the solution. It’s hard for France to get away from the droit d’auteur culture. I don’t think we need a GL, we need a new economic model. The thinking pattern behind GL is still the same as the one behind Hadopi, art is perceived as a marchandise. Same as Hadopi. But I guess the GL is just a way to sweeten the pill. The fact is that neither the Socialists nor the Conservatives understand that the music industry is slowly dying. No one is talking about patronage, donation is a bad word in my country. The GL is just a honey trap, as inconsistent and unfair as Hadopi is, but very well disguised under what my potential future government calls fairness.

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r1 - 14 Oct 2011 - 15:14:22 - NatachaEsteves
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