Gallo report plenary vote campaign
☢ RED ALERT! ☢
Take 5 minutes to help counter dangerous copyright enforcement in Europe calling Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg from Monday 20th (14-15:00) to Wednesday 22nd.
STOP a push towards more enforcement!
NO Private Copyright police in Europe!
STOP a dogmatic vision of filesharing!
If voted in the European Parliament, the Gallo report will promote a dogmatic, repressive vision of Copyright for the future of EU policymaking, calling for instance for more repression of not-for-profit online filesharing. A recently tabled proposal for a resolution by the ALDE group contains the same inaccuracies and biased approach; it is almost as bad.
On the other hand, an alternative resolution tabled by S&D, Greens and other Members promotes a more balanced approach, with more enforcement of counterfeiting of physical goods (which is really dangerous and harms consumers), and a call for more reflexion on the impact of filesharing.
You can act now by calling Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to ask them to vote against the Gallo report and vote for the alternative S&D+Greens+Others resolution instead.
The Gallo report
The "Gallo report" is an initiative report (non-legislative text) initiated by the French EPP, Sarkozyst, Member of the European Parliament Marielle Gallo, "on enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market". It has been adopted in the JURI committee (committe for legal affairs), and will be voted in plenary on September the 22nd
- amalgamates a vague notion of "online IPR infringements" (including non-commercial ones) with physical goods counterfeiting (that poses real threat to consumers health and safety);
- calls for more repression in the name of dogmatic vision of a terrible prejudice caused by filesharing, while the US Government Accountability Office recently concluded that industry figures were all inflated, that positive impact of filesharing should be considered, and while many studies prove that the prejudice is minimal or inexistent. Gallo report calls for a new criminal enforcement directive (IPRED2), when no impact assessment has been made of the previous enforcement directive (IPRED) so far.
- calls for "non-legislative measures" to combat filesharing. Such "non-legislative measures", also called "voluntary agreements" were also described in a communication by the European Commission on "IPR enforcement" (dated Sept.11th 2009). They are contractual based sanctions against individuals doing not-for-profit filesharing, decided by rights-holders and cooperative operators: restrictions of access, targeted filtering, bandwidth cap, etc... This is literally an open door to private copyright police and justice.
The rapporteur, Marielle Gallo, made sure that any amendment calling for a distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit filesharing was rejected during the vote in JURI committee.
The alternative S&D+Greens+Others proposal to Gallo report
An alternative report has been tabled by the S&D group. It includes many amendments that were rejected, according to the will of the rapporteur Gallo. Amendments from the vote in the Legal affairs committee (JURI), and amendments coming from the Consumers (IMCO) and Industry (ITRE) committees also rejected.
The alternative proposal:
- is much stronger than the initial report on combatting counterfeiting of physical goods
- is stronger at protecting consumers against harmful counterfeit products
- condemns for-profit "online infringement", but stops there.
- is overall much more consensual and less dangerous than the initial Gallo report.
(alternative proposal is still in the final stage of negotiations and will be tabled on monday)
Alternative MUST be voted in place of the original Gallo report and ALDE resolution!
The almost-as-bad-as-Gallo ALDE resolution
The ALDE group (center) has tabled a aggressive alternative resolution which include many of the worst provisions from the Gallo report. It also calls for more repression, insisting that “non-legislative” measures should be adopted so that Internet Access Providers can help the copyright lobbies in their war against file-sharing. The judiciary would be circumvented and the fundamental rights undermined. The ALDE resolution also proposes an approach to IPR enforcement which fails to acknowledge the fundamental distinction between for-profit and not-for profit infringements. Both have very different overall effects on society and should be recognized as such by policy-makers.
See by yourself:
- It says that “additional non-legislative measures are useful to improve the enforcement of IPR”, which could lead to contractual collaboration between ISPs and rights holders enforce copyright through filtering, contractual three-strikes or abusive takedown of material, without oversight by the judiciary branch.
- The resolution says that “the phenomenon of IPR infringements online has assumed worrying proportions”, when most recent independent study point to file-sharing's positive effects on the larger economy.
- It overlooks the fact that new exceptions to copyright for non-profit file-sharing would be totally coherent with the WIPO treaties.
- It “calls on the Commission to urgently present, by the end of 2010, a comprehensive IPR strategy”, when it also admits that the 2004 IPR enforcement directive has yet to be assessed.
- It blindly “rejects any request addressed to the Commission to consider suggested systems such as 'Culture Flat Rate”. This is close to obscurantism to be dismissing in advance all discussion on alternative policy proposals.
- It doesn't shy away from communications campaigns to “educate people on the value of copyright and the impact of [online] IPR infringements and counterfeiting on jobs and growth, such as brief, visible and relevant educational and warning messages”.
- It supports the “continuation and enhancement by the Commission of bilateral cooperation initiatives”, while failing to mention the importance of global forums for IP policy making. The reasons is that bilateral agreements allow the EU (or the US) to impose harsher IP provisions on developing countries. This is one more instance of an unbalanced approach to IPR in this very worrisome resolution.
The ALDE resolution, just like the Gallo proposal, presents dangerous flaws which makes it both dangerous and ill-suited.
The vote is set for Wednesday, September 22nd, during the 12:00 session.
You can call Members of the European Parliaments in their Strasbourg office from Monday September 20th, 14-15h (there is nobody in the Strasbourg office before that time)
All Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) must be targeted. They are under extremely heavy pressure from the entertainment industries and publishers' lobbies.
In particular, effort should be focused on:
- ALDE (liberals) Members. They are key to swing a vote between the two major groups. In JURI, under influence of their member Toine Manders, they helped the rapporteur Gallo to have her report adopted, and all amendments rejected according to her will.
- EPP (conservatives) Members. They may be hard to convince, as rapporteur Gallo is from their political group, and as they historically were on a more repressive line. On the other hand in previous legislature many of them voted along the 88% of the European Parliament on the amendment 138 of the Telecoms Package (saying that restrictions to fundamental rights should only be ordered by the judicial authority), which goes against the notion of "extra-judicial means" of combating filesharing. Also EPP Members from Spain, Poland, Sweden, may be easier to convince. Also ultra-liberals could be convinced that filesharing is at worst a market problem, and that the EU legislator doesn't have to intervene to help an industry innovate... and/or that these industries being mostly US based, it is not the role of the EU legislator to help them.
- S&D (socialists) Members from Spain and Italy, under heavy influence by the producers, publishers and authors' lobbies may have trouble supporting the alternative proposal.
E-mail and call Members of the European Parliament
Use Political Memory to find the contact info of the relevant MEPs.
- MEPs receive hundreds of mails per day, so sending an email -- even if is important -- is often not enough to convince them.
- A phonecall has much more impact. Most of the time you will talk to assistants who are young and intelligent people.
- The best is to send an email, then call. You can start by asking "(Hello my name is XY and I live in Z) I just sent you an email, have you read it? No? Let me tell you about it... ".
- Always be polite. Your interlocutor is working under a lot of pressure. He or she has probably only little knowledge of what is at stake with the Gallo report, but has a good capacity of understanding.
- Make sure to be concise -the phone call may last only 1 or 2 minutes, or just a few seconds- and to include relevant documents and references.
- Always follow-up a phone call by email (to send documents and references discussed over the phone, to answer to unanswered question, to go further). Rinse and repeat. ;)
Here are a few things that you may want to mention in your communications with MEPs and their assistants:
- The original Gallo report, as voted in JURI, lacks fundamental distinctions between commercial IPR violations that endanger consumers (counterfeiting) and not-for-profit infringements, such as file-sharing. Failing this, the final report could strengthen potentially disproportionate and dangerous enforcement policies whose impact has never been assessed.
- The original Gallo report calls for private copyright police, when infringement is done in an extra-legislative (extra-judicial) way, upon accusation by the rights-holders, and with the cooperation of the Internet Service Providers. Such schemes comparable to the "three strikes" policies (HADOPI, DEBill laws) have been so far a political and technical failure, and negate fundamental rights (right to a fair trial, freedom of communication).
- The increasing repression that we have seen develop in the last fifteen years has not benefited artists ; Internet users are being tracked down by rights holders and are treated like dangerous criminals; Liberty-killer schemes such as graduated response of Net filtering are being implemented ; This trend profoundly undermines the protection of fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression, privacy and the right to a fair trial.
- There is no consensus on the fact that file-sharing is damaging artistic creation in Europe. The US Government Accountability Office has recently released a study explaining that all the studies pointing to important financial losses are based on a flawed methodology. At the same time, an increasing number of studies and reports underlines the neutral or positive impact of file-sharing on creation, access to culture, and the economy at large.
- The Tera/BASCAP studies about supposed job loss in EU due to "piracy", used as the main argument by pro-Gallo lobbies, are completely partial and bogus. According to the serious SSRC, the BASCAP methodology is flawed and negates all the positive aspects, while dramatizing and inflating the figures. BASCAP's co-chair is Jean-René Fourtou, chairman of the supervisory board of Vivendi-Universal (one of the strongest lobbyists for more repressive IPR in EU).
- Today, the defense of creativity, innovation but also of the rights and freedoms of EU citizens should compel policy-makers to break with the harmful dogmatism induced by a few industry groups.
- The Parliament must promote a balanced and evidence-based approach to IPR enforcement.
Example phone call
WARNING: This is not a script to follow word by word, just an example. Just be yourself ;)
- YOU: "Hello, I would like to talk to Mrs/Mr MEP, please."
- Assistant: "Mrs/Mr MEP is not available, I am her/his assistant. Can I help you?"
- YOU: "I am MyName, calling from MyCountry, I am very much concerned about the Gallo Report currently being discussed and voted by the end of the week. I'd like to ask your MEP to vote for the alternative report."
- Assistant: "I see. We had calls before. I have no time."
- YOU: "It is very important! The Gallo report pushes industry interests, while harming society at large. The proposed measures fail to address the real problem of counterfeit goods that harm consumers, while they would harm the economic growth driven by the internet."
- Assistant: "Gallo report is a non-legislative report. There is nothing to be afraid of."
- YOU: "It replies to a communication by the Commission and one by the Council that both agree to go further on the path of dangerous, blind repression, by creating private copyright police of the Net."
- Assistant: "Online piracy causes jobs losses in Europe!"
- YOU: "The industry-funded Tera study that was used to demonstrate job losses is completely biased. I will send you documents proving that, as well as independent studies demonstrating the opposite. Mrs/Mr MEP is certainly concerned about the EU economy. It is important to defend the Internet innovative ecosystem that is creating many jobs, while some industries are not willing to adapt to the new digital environment."
- Assistant: "Mrs/Mr MEP will follow the party voting recommendation."
- YOU: "The fundamental rights of european citizens and the future of the european economy are at cross-roads, it's your MEPs choice whether we continue on the path of innovation or if we turn back and let other nations overtake the EU."
- Assistant: "Mrs/Mr MEP will follow the party voting recommendation."
- YOU: "Please ask Mrs/Mr MEP to support the alternative report instead of the Gallo report."
- Assistant: "I'll tell Mrs/Mr MEP."
- YOU: "Thank you very much for listening to me. I'll call you again shortly to know what he/she thought. Have a good day."
Please write here the questions that may arise while participating (practical details, blocking arguments, etc.). We will try to answer them as quickly as possible.