I contacted MEPs in order to share my concerns about the European copyright reform (copyright directive) and was surprised to get responses. Perhaps this was because I added my perspective as an educator to the website automated message, perhaps because I sent my message from my work email account, perhaps because of the increased focus on the UK thanks to #brexit discussions – who knows! Anyway, I want to reflect on what they said here in my reflection space.
My addition to the automated message was as follows:
“I work hard to encourage teachers to populate our online spaces in order to ensure that they are safer for learning. Like all spaces, they are too often dominated by those with the most power or money and ordinary folk do not get a voice. It is vital that we address this imbalance. Unfortunately it looks as though the current text for Article 13 will only make the online situation worse. ”
This was informed by my online activities over the past 15 years and the research I did .
Here is the annotated summary of the replies I recieved. The replies came from both Labour and Conservative MEPs. Although I would agree with their belief that regulation is needed to ensure that large US companies do not misuse their power, I think they should also be more aware that they are being used to lobby on behalf of the existing media empires who are afraid of losing their income due to the new media disruption of their old business models. This is the protection of dinosaurs. At issue here is the importance of getting greater clarity of text in order to ensure that the online world has space and access for all.
The internet is not just another piece of territory which can be bought and sold in some virtual version of empire building by rampant western capitalists eager to exploit the potential connections often provided willingly by users. It was born of an academic need to share knowledge in order to solve problems – big problems! It was created (as we heard from the recent birthday celebrations from Tim Berners-Lee himself) without patents using open source code, no proprietary software was involved, born to be sustained by the user community. The problems we face globally now are bigger than ever and we need to be more inclusive and do a better job of understanding the detail if we are not to risk more “unintended consequences”. One happy note today though – it looks like we in the UK will now get to vote in the European elections so I can use my voice to choose an MEP who does take time to look at the whole picture. I thank those who replied for their time but I am not sure you really got the point.