ArtsWatch: France To Slash Antipiracy Budget

France's Socialist government to announce reduced antipiracy appropriation next month
August 13, 2012 -- 4:36 am PDT
By Philip Merrill /

In recent news ...

France's Minister of Culture Aurélie Filippetti revealed the new Socialist government's plans to save money by greatly reducing the budget for the country's antipiracy agency HADOPI. In an interview published by Le Nouvel Observateur at the beginning of this month, she said, "In financial terms, [$14.7 million] a year and 60 officers [is an] expensive [way] to send a million emails. ... I will ask that HADOPI's costs are greatly reduced for 2012. ... I will announce in September the details of these budget decisions." Further changes are expected after March 2013, when a multistakeholder review of France's digital culture will report its recommendations.

On Aug. 7 Gigi Sohn, president and co-founder of consumer advocacy organization Public Knowledge, referenced Filippetti's interview while blogging an inside look at the U.S. Copyright Alert System — a work-in-progress comparable to HADOPI's three-strikes program that was originally announced in July 2011. "The system was scheduled to launch in July [2012], and the delay in the launch and relative silence has some floating theories of ISP pushback and content industry scheming to turn the system into an excuse for disconnection. But the reality is a lot less exciting. In a nutshell, there was a lot of foundational and technical work that needed to be done before the launch, so the July date was unrealistic," Sohn said. Her appointment to the effort's advisory board was announced in April and the additional details Sohn provides are reassuring that effective efforts are underway.

On Aug. 3 international bloggers' group Global Voices launched a translation marathon for the Declaration of Internet Freedom, bringing the total number of languages for the declaration from 28 to 63, as announced by Free Press on Aug. 7. This was one of several petitions for a digital bill of rights that emerged around Independence Day last month; it has the support of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and more than 1,500 international organizations. While many of the additional languages were little-known, translators emphasized the Internet's many uses for small, indigenous populations, connecting them to the wider world while enabling them to preserve their local languages and culture.

The International Telecommunications Union's World Conference on International Telecommunications is scheduled to be held in Dubai in December and will include a review of International Telecommunications Regulations that has the potential to result in the introduction of new Internet regulations. On Aug. 2 the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.Con.Res. 127 expressing the sense of the House that the U.S. position on Internet governance should implement "the consistent and unequivocal policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today." The resolution was introduced by Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) this past May. Separately, on Aug. 3 the Department of State submitted proposals to the Dubai conference that said, "As a decentralized network of networks, the Internet has achieved global interconnection without the development of any international regulatory regime. The development of such a formal regulatory regime could risk undermining its growth. Therefore, the United States will not support proposals that would increase the exercise of control over Internet governance or content. The United States will oppose efforts to broaden the scope of the [International Telecommunications Regulations] to empower any censorship of content or impede the free flow of information and ideas."

The Copyright Alliance called attention to the emphasis on small businesses in Congress' Joint Economic Committee report "The Impact of Intellectual Property Theft on the Economy," which was released on Aug. 6. The study provides a brief summary of familiar highlights but offers valuable additional insight by pointing out that though small businesses make up 29 percent of all U.S. businesses, they have registered only 10.5 percent of all IP theft complaints. The report said, "Small businesses are unlikely to have the financial resources to protect themselves from IP theft or pursue enforcement actions when facing losses." Copyright Alliance pointed out that this applies to independent artists and creators, including those self-employed.

An Aug. 2 decision in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a preliminary injunction granted more than a year ago against a social bookmarking website. The opinion illustrates the complexity of applying standard copyright law to new Internet technologies, such as embed codes that enable video streaming, and said, "Bypassing [the] pay wall by viewing the uploaded copy is equivalent to stealing a copyrighted book from a bookstore and reading it. That is a bad thing to do [in either case] but it is not copyright infringement. The infringer is the customer ... who copied [the] copyrighted video by uploading it to the Internet." IP attorney and blogger Terry Hart called attention to the inaccurate headlines summarizing this decision and wrote, "They range from slightly incorrect — 'Embedding copyrighted video is not infringement, rules Posner' — to wildly inaccurate — 'Embedding copyright-infringing video is not a crime, court rules' — to facepalm-inducing absurdity — 'Embed all the Pirated Video You Want Because It's Totally Legal.'"

The Recording Academy actively represents the music community on such issues as intellectual property rights, music piracy, archiving and preservation, and censorship concerns. In pursuing its commitment to addressing these and other issues, The Recording Academy undertakes a variety of national initiatives. ArtsWatch is a key part of an agenda aimed at raising public awareness of and support for the rights of artists. To become more involved, visit Advocacy Action @ and sign up for Advocacy Action E-lerts.

Click on the "ArtsWatch" tag for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.

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