The minister-downloader repudiates the anti-piracy committee
Roberto Maroni’s occupation is Minister of the Interior for the Italian government, but in his spare time he enjoys to listen to music and, above all, to download it on the P2P. He has never hided it, and he has confirmed this attitude in the last days too, during a meeting with the press at Varese, where he has attended before his participation to Il Festival del Racconto. Accidentally but not too much, the Minister statements come after the establishment of the well known committee against digital piracy under the Prime Minister’s Office, which would like just to fight the file sharing that Maroni periodically advocates.
“Free downloading is a matter of fact. We need to pass though advertising, we need to find someone paying to let the users download freely and along with this to guarantee the fair compensation to the artists“, the minister has stated to reporters, highlighting a state of things that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has iterated for years by now as the flashy proof of the failure of the legal crusade of the American majors against file sharing.
In a pretty atypical manner for an average Italian politician, Maroni hasn’t changed his own opinions on the matter since 2006, when he said that he downloads “music from the Internet because music must be free and available to anyone. We need both to safeguard the copyright and remove the obstacles which prevent its distribution“. Now as before, the priority for the “minister-downloader” is “to find a way to take away this system from illegality. It isn’t a legislative problem but a social issue. It’s a sharing between people, there isn’t a commercial exploitation, I listen to the Pod…“.
If file sharing is an habit in which are monthly involved billions of people, clearly defining it illegal it’s not only wrong but also stupid, Maroni suggests: downloaders are way too much for the industry could hope to block them with the strengthening of the copyright laws or the adoption of filters like in The Pirate Bay case, the only viable solution is the legalization of file sharing as is.
“CDs are a media in crisis, music is not“, has continued the minister talking at Varese, evoking, among the possible solutions to revenue loss by the recording industry, the VAT tax (known in Italy as “IVA”) cut on the original disks, though in this case he will have to persuade his “friend” Giulio Tremonti, the current Minister of the Exchequer in the forth Berlusconi government.
Maroni isn’t afraid of self-declaring himself a downloader and a contents sharer on P2P, but unless he has changed opinion only thereafter his beliefs didn’t prevent him to vote, in 2004, the peer-to-peer law named after the then Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities Giuliano Urbani, a law still effective nowadays and that comprises a criminal felony for whom shares copyrighted contents on-line.
Anyway it’s a fact that the new statements from the minister surely won’t be appreciated by SIAE, the industry lobby that has promoted the committee for fighting digital piracy established in the past days, and that Maroni essentially blames for its slapdash attitude because the only ones invited to the banquet are the copyright owners, a clear evidence of the fact that the aims are all but the file sharing legalization.
Maroni really dislikes that committee, and surely the minister is not alone in this: following the SIAE press release Punto Informatico has published a letter signed by consumers, providers and industry organizations directed to the current Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities and to the Prime Minister’s Office, carrying the voice of whom feels to be unfairly excluded from a case in which he is pretty much involved instead.
“Culture in the Information Society is a common good and so the distribution of the cultural heritage is a matter in connection to which several interests and players’ rights inevitably confront and intersect“, is written in the letter, and in such a context “is worrisome the fact that for the establishment of the Technical Committee it has been considered to not to include since the beginning and in a structured and lasting manner the representatives of the several concerned categories and it has been chosen to deal with the sensitive theme of culture in the information society in the narrow and narrowing perspective of the fight against piracy that is, evidently, only a derived phenomenon in regard of the more complex problem of the regulation of digital and multimedia cultural market“.
The signing organizations condemn the attempt to adopt in Italy the Sarkozy doctrine, the obligation for the ISPs to spy on their own users and to cut them off the Internet in case of reiterated downloads from file sharing. Such a practice, the letter states, has been already blocked by the European Commission because “it doesn’t seem to be based on an adequate balancing of the opposed interests and seems to put the copyright safeguard on an over-ordered plane among other primary rights and freedoms of the citizen like privacy and information access“.
Strengthening the need of a wider involvement of the concerned players have come the reactions by Google, senator Fiorello Cortiana (member of the Advisory Committee on the Internet Governance under the UN and interested to the digital culture and free ideas sharing themes by a long time) and by Enzo Mazza, chairman of FIMI.
Everyone agrees on the fact that the committee tasks shouldn’t be limited to “maintain the status quo of the current players“, says Cortiana, while Mazza even agrees with Maroni, he that is accountable for an organization that together with SIAE represents the majority of the multimedia contents producers in Italy, on the fact that “the criminal repression isn’t the only way“, there’s the need to “sensitize” and not to take the users to court on the availability of legal choices to on-line “piracy” and on the need to target the larger suppliers, “who distribute on-line millions of tracks and movies illegally, towards them effective measures must be decided” as for example the ban, temporarily, from the Internet connection.
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