[discuss] /1net Steering/Coordination Commitee

Roland Perry roland at internetpolicyagency.com
Sun Dec 22 12:17:04 UTC 2013

In message <52B5E05C.5010503 at cs.tcd.ie>, at 18:39:24 on Sat, 21 Dec 
2013, Stephen Farrell <stephen.farrell at cs.tcd.ie> writes
>>>> Quite a few people have been doing that for some time (myself, on and
>>>> off, since 1999 for example).
>>> I didn't mean to imply it hadn't been tried. But I think results
>>> so far are not yet a wild success
>> Depends what you mean by "wild success" I suppose. I can point to
>> several legislative results which were vastly more acceptable to the
>> Internet community after I'd persuaded the legislators how things
>> actually worked.
>> One easily explained example is the way the EU's Copyright Directive
>> exempts caches [mainly in the network, but local ones too] from
>> requiring a licence from rightsholders. Such a state of affairs is taken
>> for granted today, and I'm not saying someone else couldn't also have
>> done that, but at the time I'm sure my own efforts (involving man-weeks
>> if not months, of effort) were very likely what tipped the balance back
>> in 2000/1.
>But don't examples like that show that we've more to do if
>we're not to have to fight each of those fights individually?

Every European Directive is "fought individually", as is every UK Act of 
Parliament or US Congress Bill.

Not for nothing do most large organisations regard a permanent team of 
three 'lobbyists' in Brussels to be the minimum, and I hate to think how 
many in Washington.

But it's also true that a great deal more education, and information 
about how to get education, aimed at lawmakers - be they officials or 
legislators - would reduce the amount of running around whilst these 
instruments pass through their various stages, but it's never going to 
eliminate it because there's also mis-information (and FUD) coming from 
stakeholders whose policy objectives are opposed to whatever the rough 
consensus here is.

So there's always going to be a need to explain why those opposing world 
views are 'incorrect' (be that because they "don't understand how the 
Internet works", or otherwise).

 >What I mean is that it'd be great if governments knew when to
 >start a discussion, with whom and how, and how to interpret
 >the dialog, and were happy that all of that was ok, before
 >going very far down the road with proposals with potentially
 >significant impact on the Internet. Maybe a bit too optimistic
 >to hope we could get there, but the discussion I've love to
 >see happen would be about how to get there (or closer).

To expand upon the example I already gave, a lot of the work I did was 
explaining what caches are, what they do, and also what they don't 
do.[1]  The government department was happy to set up meetings to do 
this, because they were aware that my job was to organise that sort of 

So half the battle (as you say above) is making as much of your audience 
as possible aware of existence of the offer of help, and of course 
'repeat business' is very important too. Which is why my personal style 
is to avoid "megaphone lobbying" and going round telling people how 
stupid they are not to understand; both of which are modalities I see 
far too often coming out of the telecoms/IT sector. And also of course 
why you need to try to make friends with, and educate, all stakeholders 
in the debate; which some find rather uncomfortable or even attempt to 

[1] What was interesting about that particular project is that after the 
briefing the 'other side' (in effect publishers and rightsholders) went 
away saying "well, that was a pleasant surprise, and now we understand 
how it works, we withdraw most of our objections".

Roland Perry

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