Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Aubry's Digital France

Martine #Aubry has published a manifesto on her vision of the digital future. Two high points: she envisions a "right to connection" and she will abolish the HADOPI law. The first problem I see is that the two points are in tension, not to say contradiction, with each other. Consider that the right to connection includes free access in many places:

Au-delà, il nous faut imaginer la France connectée de demain dans ses aspects les plus quotidiens. Il faut pouvoir accéder à l'internet partout et à tout moment : dans les trains comme dans les aéroports, les hôpitaux et les mairies, les jardins publics ou les hôtels. Et il faudrait y accéder gratuitement. Les jeunes Français se retrouvent plus volontiers dans les cafés si le wifi est libre d'accès.

But:the abolition of Hadopi involves 3 conditions:

Emprunter cette voie exige trois conditions, pour lesquelles notre programme comporte des propositions précises.
D'abord, que nous adaptions et renforcions les droits d'auteur.
Ensuite, de fonder de nouveaux financements pour la création sur une contribution, forfaitaire et d'un montant modeste, des internautes et sur un prélèvement qu'acquitteront les opérateurs et les fournisseurs d'accès. Justement réparti, ce serait un apport massif pour soutenir la culture en France, et pour trouver cet équilibre, j'en appelle d'abord à un dialogue loyal avec toutes les parties prenantes.
Enfin, intensifier la lutte contre la contrefaçon commerciale.

But free, anonymous access in public places means that ISP's can't collect fees from users, because they won't have any relationship with those users, unless some new mechanism is established whereby the user of public access in France will have to obtain an ID and establish a means of paying whatever ISP furnishes the public access. The system would be more like the Vélib' than like the open access systems available in many US airports. And would downloads under this artist remuneration system be limited to users in France? Is it technically feasible to enforce such a requirement?

I like the principles and await the details. In any case, with the proposal to abolish Hadopi, Martine is obviously angling for the youth vote.


Kirk said...

i'm not sure I agree with your conclusion. The vast majority of French people have paid access. That access would be charged an additional fee; free accesses would likely not pay the same thing. You can't expect that a lot of people would only be using the free access.

However, the "global license" is a very controversial issue. It is, essentially, a license to steal. While some content producers are in favor of it, many are not. And, would all content be covered? Some of the ebooks I've written are on torrent trackers; will I see any of that money? Are they going to share the money with non-French content producers? If so, how will it be split up?

Seems to me a proverbial Pandora's box. While I think Hadopi has to go, and I'm in favor of paying content producers, I'm not sure that this global license is the most practical way to go.

Cincinna said...

So now Martine decrees that Internet access is a right. What next, a chicken in every pot?
What happens to real human rights like freedom of speech, religion, and assembly, when this nonsense gets mixed into the same stew?
In a moribund economy, with rampant unemployment, and decrease in opportunity, who will pay for this? And after the right to have Internet access, isn't the right to a laptop with wifi access inevitable? Free movie entrance to chomeurs, free wifi - what an incentive to actively go out and get a job, or do part time work to be self- sufficient & maintain one's dignity & self respect!
Austerity, Martine Aubry style.
The pandering is deplorable. As Margaret Thatcher said "the problem with Socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money".

Passerby said...

The small fee already exists. Whenever someone buy a storage device (CD-RW, hard disk, etc.), there a tax collected to "support creation", which goes directly to various organizations who pay authors. This was voted way before HADOPI.
So basically consumers pay a tax upfront, because it is assumed that they will infringe copyrights (even if it's just a disk to store pictures of the kids). And then there is a law to (try to)prevent them from actually infringing the law. Who is the stealing who?

Anyway, HADOPI is a good example of why politicians should not try to regulate technologies they barely understand. It took years to implement this law, and anyway it was obsolete before it started. Before the vote, there were already tons of tutorials online on how to go around it. And even for users who are not IT savvy, the infrastructure (why involves manual processes?!) is too small to process the millions of IP addresses that were logged trying to access copyrighted material. Only a tiny fraction received a warning email.

Neal Durando said...

If you have a telephone here, you pretty much have internet access and, increasingly, "free" wifi in urban centers. The last thing I want is the government adding a tax to pay for "free" access which, effectively, has already been provided by the private sector.

As for a general license, yes, this would amount to the same license to steal used across France for photocopying rights. The piracy of professional publications is at Chinese levels in France. The general public simply assumes it can photocopy entire textbooks or journals.

Abolishing HADOPI will probably provoke a "What is HADOPI?" response from the kids who already avoid it and, for expats like me--we already have other reasons for having VPNs to US ISPs.