Wednesday 3 May 2017

Digital commons in the European Parliament

After Elements of style: digital single market in European Parliament and mindful of the benchmark Digital single market litmus test, let us return to the EP on the digital single market (DSM).

European Parliament on DSM  
Under the procedure file 2015/2147(INI) we found that two rapporteurs, Kaja Kallas and Evelyne Gebhardt, had produced a joint report for two committees (the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy ITRE and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection IMCO), regaled with opinions from six other committees.
The resulting report A8-0371/2015 on Towards a Digital Single Market Act contained 78 pages, almost four times the number of pages in the DSM communication from the Commission (20 pages).

Digital commons

Despite the eternal flak from the nationalists, who want the EU to fail at everything, the 19 January 2016 EP plenary debate on the DSM committee report was fairly positive and focused.

Naturally, some parliamentarians emphasised their concerns, inside and outside the committee report. I beg your leave for a detour to pick up one interesting viewpoint for EU citizens.

Julia Reda (Pirate Party), who spoke for The Greens / European Free Alliance  group, reminded the listeners of the need to complement the digital single market with a strategy for the digital commons, meaning freedom and opportunities for private users and creators:

Julia Reda, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. Mr President, the Commission has titled this project ‘The Digital Single Market’ but we must not lose sight of the reason for tearing down the digital borders and for promoting the exchange of knowledge, goods and services in Europe. It is to empower people and to ensure that the technological projects of globalisation benefit all, and not just the few.

Parliament recalls in this report that is not just the market and profit-seeking enterprises that can provide solutions. The strategy will not be comprehensive if it does not take into account solutions based on the commons. There is open-source software that improves interoperability, security and control over technology. Community WiFi projects provide connectivity, even in remote areas, and crowd-funding allows communities to fund innovation without the dependence on big investors.

Finally, net neutrality and universal internet access are the basis for the Digital Single Market to function, so some regulation of the market is necessary to ensure that new technologies in commercial undertakings safeguard fundamental rights. But it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel when dealing with online intermediaries. In many areas, such as liability, we already have functioning legislation. We must recognise that the internet is more than just a big shopping centre. The successful digital strategy emphasises the strength of the internet: the free exchange of knowledge and collaboration. In summary, we must complement the digital single market with a digital commons strategy. This report makes a good step in this direction, and I would like to thank the rapporteurs for their important and collaborative work in this area.

Introduction to digital commons

Here are introductions to digital commons: in text from TechTarget and on YouTube by The Audiopedia, with a further visits to the creative commons network for free copyright licenses and the Open Science Repository.

In Sweden Peter Jakobsson wrote his 2012 doctoral thesis Öppenhetsindustrin (with an abstract in English) on the digital commons.

Ralf Grahn

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