While the entire “Licences for Europe” project has been through a lot of turmoil and subsequently criticised for its lack of credibility, the so-called “Working Group 2 on User-Generated Content” takes absurdity to a whole new dictionary-changing level.
One of the “user” groups that was invited by the Commission, at the request of Neelie Kroes’s DG Connect, is “Together against Cybercrime”. Even the name of the organisation raises warning flags – user-generated content (however that can be defined) is not a crime.
At the first meeting of the group, Yuliya Morenets was listed as giving a presentation and was on the agenda as representing the UN’s Youth Internet Governance Forum (Youth IGF). The small problem there is that the Youth IGF does not take policy positions and, therefore, nobody could be mandated to speak for that group. However, Ms Morenets did not turn up to the first meeting. Her official replacement was a gentleman from a different organisation. Neither he nor the Commission could explain how, why or if Ms Morenets would have been expected to speak on behalf of the Youth IGF. Her replacement then explained he represented “Together Against Cybercrime” – but neither he nor the Commission could explain why or if it was appropriate for a cybercrime organisation to claim to be a user organisation in a forum which was not discussing cybercrime. However, he did speak, and his views were remarkably similar to those of industry.
At a subsequent meeting, Ms Morenets did finally turn up. After repeated questioning about if or how she could claim to represent the Youth IGF, she changed her affiliation and said that she was representing “Together Against Cybercrime”. As a representative of Internet users, her organisation is listed as “civil society” at an event she is organising at the Internet Governance Forum. On the other hand, her profile on the IGF website describes her as the CEO of her own consulting company, and explains that it is “a consultancy firm specialised in research of European funding opportunities and sponsoring, especially in the field of ICT programs and the protection of intellectual property rights.”
As a representative of the civil society, Ms Morenets explained at one Licences for Europe meeting, that she either represented directly or had consulted on user-generated content issues with:
Despite numerous requests during meetings of Licences for Europe for clarification of exactly who she represents and despite four e-mails since June of this year requesting clarification, none has been forthcoming. On the other hand, we know that the Youth IGF could not have given her a mandate. Our feedback from the relevant organisations suggests that she represents neither of the main library associations nor she does not represent Euralo, if this is what she meant by the European user delegation at ICANN.
Regardless of what happens in the closing stages of the Licences for Europe project, the European Commission will publish press releases indicating that the project has been a huge success. This “success” will be a year-long series of meetings where civil society has abandoned the process, where participants were banned from speaking about reform of the legislative process, where “users” will have been “represented” by Ms Morenets, where the events were held under “Chatham House Rule” to avoid transparency about what was happening and where we are no closer to fixing the profound problems in the legislative framework for copyright in the EU than we were one year ago. If that is success, it is difficult to imagine what failure looks like.
TaC as Civil Society