Are EU institutions making fun of us ?

[ Written for Simon Says column on Computer World UK ]

Hardly believable. Last week we expressed concerns about the European Commission true intentions with regards to the copyright consultation, the deadline for which has been extended to March 5th despite the hundreds of contributions already received. It’s superficially a good thing for those of us working to represent civil society, but think about the employee who is supposed to deal with the responses, and you might wonder what can possibly motivates the Commission to ask for more. Big industry lobbies being overwhelmed ? Maybe…

The level of the questions present in the document had already rung a bell. Number 11 for example asks whether adding a link to content should be subject to the authorisation of the rights-holder; number 12 raises the question whether the viewing of a web-page should be considered as a copy. These are so obviously laughable they suggest we should denounce once and for all the lack of competence of the Commission on ICT issues since both would simply mean denying the internet as a whole.

Meanwhile, our doubts have gradually been confirmed, as the consultation appears more and more as a vicious distraction while sneaky copyright changes are happening. On the same day indeed : a Directive on Collective Rights Management was adopted by the European Parliament; plans for an overhaul of the E.U. Copyright Directive was approved by the Legal Affairs Committee; the Notice and Action Directive about censorship through hosting services providers was announced as back on track – according to independent policy writer Monica Horten.

Isn’t it odd? Asking for input from civil society on sensitive questions but keeping the legislative process ongoing with regards to the same questions, without waiting for the answers? This is what a fake democracy looks like. An illusion of participation – to feed our needs of having our say while serving the needs of some elites.

Except that we are tired of those ludicrous gambits. Tired of being constantly watching over civil servants as we might with irresponsible kids. Tired of spending our free time helping EU institutions in their daily work, and realize afterwards it was all just wasted.