Member of the Board of the Polish Linux Users Group. Human rights in digital era hacktivist, Free Software advocate, privacy and anonimity evangelist; expert volunteer to the Panoptykon Foundation; co-organizer of SocHack social hackathons; charter member of the Warsaw Hackerspace; and Telecomix co-operator; biker, sailor.

Formerly President of the Board of the Polish Free and Open Source Software Foundation; CTO of BRAMA Mobile Technologies Laboratory on Warsaw University of Technology and a student at Philosophy Institute on Warsaw University.

Table of Contents

02.07.2016Dzień, w którym cenzura Sieci w Polsce stała się faktem pl 152 13.04.2015Needless haystacks en 151 12.03.2015e-Dockleracje pl 150 19.01.2015Ban on encryption is not about banning encryption en 149 13.01.2015Not Free as in Beer en pl 148 30.12.2014GPG Key Transition en pl 147 18.12.2014Siła wyższa pl 146 04.12.2014Internet in Poland to be porn-free after all? en pl 145 27.11.2014Block everything! en pl 144 02.11.2014Introducing: rysiek's law of unavoidable consequences en pl 143 09.09.2014Stop paedophilia en pl 142 22.06.2014Even with EME, Mozilla will become "the browser that can't" en 141 21.06.2014EuroDIG 2014 en pl 140 19.06.2014Hacker in the Digital Affairs Council en pl 139 30.05.2014Public consultations and anonymity en pl 138 18.05.2014Why being a pirate is not worth it en pl 137 15.05.2014On Mozilla, DRM and irrelevance en pl 136 14.05.2014Not-quite-good-enough-Mundial en 135 12.04.2014Irresponsible non-disclosure en pl 134 29.03.2014Ecologic, Ford and surveillance en pl 133 15.03.2014Otwórzmy edukację pl 132 10.03.2014Blurry line between private service and public infrastructure en 131 08.03.2014IM IN UR MINISTRY, CONSULTING UR INTERNETZ en pl 130 17.02.2014Encrypted VoIP that works en pl 129 11.02.2014So you want to censor the Internet... en pl 128 02.02.2014This is why we can't have nice IRC en 127 31.01.2014Decentralize where your mouth is en pl 126 30.01.2014A link cannot be illegal en pl 125 30.01.2014Copyright reform debate lives on en pl 124 26.01.2014Neat HaCSS, or let's de-JS the Web a bit en 123 27.12.2013Information Account Number en 122 14.12.2013HaIPu en 121 20.11.2013Friends of TTIP and data protection in Brussels en 120 19.11.2013Social media, Polish Pirates style en pl 119 05.11.2013A rude comment en 118 20.10.2013TEDx Warsaw Women and privacy en pl 117 03.10.2013Copyreform at CopyCamp 2013 en pl 116 22.09.2013Long-expected KMail2 rant en 115 18.09.2013Facebook for schools en 114 12.09.2013In which I call upon United Poland parliamentarians to guarantee citizens the right to Internet free of surveillance en pl 113 08.09.2013Complaintivism en 112 04.09.2013It's his own fault en pl 111 19.08.2013Lies, damn lies, and analytics en pl 110 27.07.2013Shortest Internet censorship debate ever en pl 109 22.07.2013Cómo el compartir información desarraiga los modelos conservadores de negocio en es 108 22.07.2013Posts' markup is now available en pl 107 11.07.2013Kultura wolna i legalna pl 106 07.06.2013Internet is not a problem en pl 105 05.06.2013Libel Culture en 104 17.05.2013Wojtuś Fatalista i wolność w Internecie pl 102 17.05.2013Por qué hallo la licencia -ND como innecesaria y dañina en es pl 101 28.03.2013Wolność nasza codzienna pl 100 17.03.2013Nie wszystko korpo co o wolności w Internecie pl 99 15.03.2013♫ Odpowiadam na e-maile ♫ pl 98 11.02.2013One year anniversary of Anti-ACTA en pl 97 30.01.2013Nie ma haka na słabe dziennikarstwo? pl 96 30.01.2013Fighting Black PR around OER en pl 95 29.01.2013HOWTO: effectively argue against Internet censorship ideas en pl 94 20.11.2012Border conditions for preserving subjectivity in the digital era en pl 93 19.11.2012Social blogosphere en pl 92 07.11.2012Embrace fragmentation en pl 91 02.11.2012SERVICES.TXT en pl 90 24.10.2012Apple por fin saltó por la borda en es 89 24.09.2012Rompiendo los muros del jardín en es pl 88 24.09.2012Minister i Kultura pl 87 24.09.2012Melbourne CryptoParty video message en 86 16.09.2012On sailor's sensitivity, or "the starry heavens above me" en pl 85 22.08.2012Black PR around Polish e-Textbooks en pl 84 15.08.2012Regaty utracone pl 83 24.07.2012Hypochristian Love en 82 24.07.2012Some new Layout Goodness en pl 81 17.07.2012Party 2.0 en pl 80 16.07.2012Prawo autorskie po ACTA pl 79 13.07.2012Party as a system hack en pl 78 10.06.2012Are corporations dangerous only in collusion with governments? en 77 09.06.2012Proxies! Proxies everywhere! en 76 05.06.2012Automagic re-publishing from Twitter to StatusNet en pl 75 18.05.2012TPSA/Orange and GIMP, or a word on 5 users en pl 74 16.05.2012Słowo o Warsztatach MAiC pl 73 15.04.2012Schowaj gadżeta pl 72 05.04.2012Perfect ToDo-oid en 71 27.03.2012Subjectively on Anti-ACTA in Poland en pl 70 25.03.2012On copyright in Budapest en pl 69 23.03.2012Kościoła poczucie odpowiedzialności pl 68 20.03.2012Learning to Internet en pl 67 19.03.2012Kościoła wiara w wiernych pl 66 29.02.2012Brussels Safari #1 - EP press conference and ITRE en pl 65 21.02.2012Because ACTA is passé en pl 64 20.02.2012Privacy of correspondence, EU-style en pl 63 17.02.2012Polish PM on ACTA: I was wrong en pl 62 12.02.2012Anonymous vs Corponymous en pl 61 10.02.2012To have a cookie and dowload it too en pl 60 19.01.2012About ACTA at Polish PM Chancellery en pl 59 19.01.2012Free as in United en pl 58 16.01.2012Towarzystwo czuje się oszukane pl 57 10.01.2012Terms of Using the Service en pl 56 05.01.2012Corporate lack of patriotism en pl 55 04.01.2012Terroristcopters en pl 54 03.01.2012IceWeasel and Privacy en pl 53 28.12.2011Good Uncle Stal... Putin en pl 52 25.12.2011Useful Bash defaults done right en 51 21.12.2011Google Mail, or how mail becomes publication en pl 50 20.12.2011Occupy Gotham en pl 49 11.12.2011Copyfraud en pl 48 08.12.2011Multikino Wikipedia FAIL pl 47 27.11.2011Nie miejsce na pl 46 18.11.2011One-way cutting en pl 45 12.11.2011Tolerancja dla Kościoła pl 44 11.11.2011Users and Citizens en pl 43 30.10.2011Adhocracy and Net4Change en pl 42 18.10.2011War on Fun en pl 41 16.10.2011Boli mnie w krzyżu pl 40 14.10.2011Technocomplacency en pl 39 10.10.2011I Can Haz? pl 37 09.10.2011Election Silence in Poland en pl 38 03.10.2011Kibice i kampania pl 36 02.10.2011E-textbooks, Johnny Mnemonic, business and the Net en pl 35 19.09.2011CC Global Streaming/Summit/Party pl 33 19.09.2011Czy jest coś takiego jak darmowe śniadanie? pl 34 12.09.2011Faktycznie Super pl 32 12.09.2011Diaspora-Based Comment System en 31 11.09.2011Conflict of values en pl 30 06.09.2011Wolność słowa to nie wolność od myślenia ani od krytyki pl 29 06.09.2011On-line privacy and anonymity: case in point en pl 28 04.09.2011On being careful with words en pl 27 03.09.2011W obronie QR Code pl 26 31.08.2011Stolica Nie Tak Święta pl 25 29.08.2011Of malware, hot steam, privacy, using one's brain and paedoparanoia en 24 29.08.2011Kragen Thinking Out Loud en pl 23 18.08.2011Ból, blizny, dziewczyny i wiosła pl 22 07.08.2011Worst. Woodstock. Ever! pl 21 27.07.2011Willpower, productivity and cycling en pl 20 19.07.2011Neo FreeRunner as a WiFi Soundcard en 19 10.07.2011A Weekend with lawyers en pl 18 09.07.2011One step closer to ideal en pl 17 04.07.2011Apostasy in Poland en pl 16 28.06.2011YAFR (Yet Another Facebook Rant) en pl 15 19.06.2011Wiara w priorytety pl 14 17.06.2011Important meetings, fun meetings en pl 13 13.06.2011Ooops I en pl 12 30.05.2011Playing with Node.js en pl 11 25.05.2011Mozilla, Google and the Location Bar en pl 10 24.05.2011At Sector 3.0 conf en pl 9 23.05.2011Layout, CSS and RSS/Atom en pl 8 15.05.2011Startup Weekend Network Fun Fun Fun en 7 11.05.2011Nowy szef Bramy pl 6 10.05.2011World's Smallest Open Source Violin en pl 5 10.05.2011Po kolejnym spotkaniu w KPRM pl 4 08.05.2011Inspiracja na niedzielę pl 3 08.05.2011I horizontally the whole blog is that serious pl 2 07.05.2011I can has brag en pl 1

Copyright reform debate lives on

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Since Polish and European citizens voiced their opinions on the need of copyright reform so clearly 2 years ago there is a feeling of anticipation in the air — what's next? Brussels-based politicians hint (or outright state publicly) that everybody is waiting for some Polish move.

Can't say I blame them. Widespread Anti-ACTA protests started in Warsaw; Polish Prime Minister was the first to admit ACTA was a mistake; politicians from Poland were also the first to grasp that (using the not-exactly-fitting language of Polish MP Gałażewski) ACTA was "passé" and also the first to start asking the right questions.

This past September finally something has happened. At the CopyCamp Polish MEP Paweł Zalewski has shared his ideas for copyright reform in the EU, and about two months later, together with Amelia Andersdotter and Marietje Schaake, announced them officially in the European Parliament.

A month later the European Commission opened-up consultations on the InfoSoc directive reform — a process we should all take part in! Time is of essence, as the deadline is 5th of February, but there are tools that help get involved. Use them!

Soon afterwards the Polish Ministry of Culture opened local consultations in order to create an official Polish stance in the InfoSoc reform consultations.

Copyright Forum

The Copyright Forum is one of the after-effects of the ACTA debate (the Ministry was responsible for the treaty within the Polish government), and of other situations where Ministry's decisions and processes seemed less than transparent, so to speak. For which they have been heavily criticised.

The Ministry seems to learn on their mistakes, and does not wish to ever be called "non-transparent", hence the Copyright Forum was born. Long story short, any and all organisations that are interested in copyright and its reform now have a chance to voice their opinions in an open debate, facilitated by the Ministry. Finally!

New consultations, old misunderstandings

The 5th Copyright Forum was about:

  • scope of copyright and its protection;
  • fair use/fair dealing/"exceptions" to copyright law.

As far as the a sane stance on these issues is concerned, please see Open Education Coalitions's response in this consultation process. I want to focus here on something else.

This was not the first (nor, hopefully, the last) copyright consultation meeting I partake in. Even though we ("us, opennists") had been explaining our position for years, we still find basic lack of understanding (as I am not going to assume malicious, conscious mangling) of what we're trying to say. It was clearly present in statements made on this Forum also. Let's have a look at the most "interesting" of ideas and misrepresentations, shall we?

"Linking to illegal content should be illegal itself"

The idea here is that mere linking on the Internet to content that is in some way infringing on somebody's intellectual property copyright should be illegal itself, because notice-and-take-down procedures are slow, complicated and ineffective.

Before we dive into how bad an idea this is, let's stop for a moment on the "illegal content" part. That's another of those language constructs that are artificially used in a way to slant the debate before it even starts. "Illegal content" is content that is illegal to share, reproduce, etc, under any circumstances, regardless of whether or not you have a license on the content itself. If Polish copyright collectives claim that the "content" created by the artists they (supposedly) represent is "illegal", maybe they should call the Police?..

If we're talking about infringement, we should call it infringement, nothing more, nothing less.

An idea that was also present on the Forum and is closely related to "making linking illegal" strategy is "making search engines remove links to infringing content". Both ideas are completely absurd, for a number of reasons too long to be put in full here; here's the skinny:

  • links are purely informational, just as bibliographic notes; penalisation of linking is as absurd as penalisation of bibliographic notes;
  • removing links to infringing content is sweeping the problem under the rug, instead of solving it at the source (e.g. by removing the infringing material);
  • a person that links to a given content has no practical way of ascertaining the legality of said content, not to mention that this legality can change over time;
  • this whole idea is claimed to be "necessary" in the light of "ineffectiveness" of notice and take down; well, if notice and take down is ineffective, what makes the proponents of such a measure think that they will have any more luck with removing links than with removing content itself?
  • regardless of its ineffectiveness, it will cause problems for works published under libre licenses, including free software.

More in-depth arguments are also available.

"Users of culture"

The division between "users" (or http://copyspeak.org/consumer/ "consumers"]) of culture, and "creators" of it is as old as it is outdated. It had, perhaps, some sense in the times of mass-media, with their clear difference between broadcasters and audience. Today all you need to become an artist is a laptop, and all you need to reach your audience is the Internet.

Read-only culture became read-write again, finally. There is no meaningful line of division between "users" and "creators". Everybody can be one or the other, as they choose.

Users' responsibility

According to polish copyright law today, if I have access to a given work, I can download it, and use it (including sharing it non-commercially with my family and friends). I do not have to check whether or not that content has been shared with me legally. That's the sharer's problem.

Of course that's something hard to swallow for the copyright collectives and their ilk. Hence the idea to change that, to make the user responsible for downloading and using content that might have been illegally published or shared. A proposal that is burdened with some of the same arguments as "making linking illegal" one above. Namely, how can a user check that, if even courts tend to have problems with it?

Should the illegally-shared works be marked in a certain way? If so, whose responsibility that would be? Artists'? Sharers' themselves? If the latter. how can one be sure that the content gets marked truthfully? If the former, artists would have to gain control over every single shared copy... while somebody that would still want to share without proper authorisation will do so anyway.

Or maybe the "users of culture" (being creators themselves!) should limit themselves to just a few "kosher" channels? If so, which ones should these be? And who decides, on what grounds? Can I start such a channel myself, for example in the form of a blog, videolog, podcast? If so, how can my audience be sure that it is "legal" itself?

Finally, how should users of infringing content be punished? Are we to assume that copyright collectives are proposing the American model here?

"Everything that potentially allows anybody to make money — is commercial"

That's an attempt at defining the hard to draw line between "commercial" and "non-commercial" use, and it's done in a way that makes sure that any use of cultural work on the Internet is in fact commercial. After all, even if I were to completely non-commercially send a private e-mail with a picture attached to my family member, my ISP, their ISP and probably at least one ISP in between makes money in a quite real way.

Does it make sense to use such a broad definition of "commercial use"? After all, it's legal for me in Poland to watch some movies together with my friends. But in such a situation there are several third parties than can profit from it — a taxi driver, public transport operator company, some local grocery stores where we buy the supplies for the evening... Does that make my watching movies with my friends "commercial"? Or, for that matter, if I am going to watch a movie myself, the electrical company is going to profit a bit. Is that commercial also, then?

And by the way, how about the copyright collectives themselves — after all they employ people, who profit from their activities...

Non-commercial vs. libre-licensed

That one's a classic, with authors publishing their works under libre licenses being called "creators not planning to make money on their works".

How many times do we have to repeat ,ad nauseam, that libre-licensed work does not have to be a pro-bono work? There are many ways to make money on digital works — sponsoring, crowdfunding, work-for-hire, adverts are just a few most obvious.

There are big corporations and small firms publishing some of their products on libre licenses — Intel, Google, RedHat, to name just a few best known. Stating contemptuously that publishing something under a libre license means that the author has no intention on profiting from it is either a sign of ignorance, or (much worse) willful attempt at marginalizing such creators.

"Some organizations are only interested in gratis access for users"

That's also something we hear quite often. Usually from the same person. Mr Dominik Skoczek, once the head of the Intellectual Property and Media Department at the ministry of Culture (he was the person responsible for ACTA topic within the Ministry), today representing the Association of Polish Movie Producers (think: MPAA without the clout), had an abundance of occasions to hear from us that libre licensing is about something other than cash.

And that it's not about "users", as everybody can be a creator.

I wouldn't go as far as to assume malice on part of Mr Skoczek; on the other hand if I assume that after years of our patient explanations of our views he still cannot grasp the not-so-complicated ideas behind them, Mr Skoczek could understandably feel offended...

Instead of pondering the source of such lack of understanding, then, I shall simply explain once more, that libre licenses, free culture, free software, etc, are not about gratis access, but about the possibility of creating and remixing. Creativity and culture are never in a void, all creative work is derivative, making works inaccessible for remixing up to 70 years after author's death — is a barbaric attack on culture itself.

Authors of libre-licensed works and organisations demanding libre-licensing of works created with public funds demand not "access" for all, but allowing creativity for all.

"The only chance for money reaching the artist are copyright collectives"

A Polish lawyer (and author of a well-known blog), Piotr VaGla Waglowski, had asked one of the Polish copyright collectives (the one supposedly representing rights of authors like him) about the possibility of receiving what could most aptly be described as "his money". The answer he had received was too long to be quoted in full here, but the important part is this:

Due to a very large number of entities entitled to receive these funds there is a danger of considerable atomization of remunerations to which they are entitled. This has direct bearing also on the possibility of such remuneration, namely on acceptable repartitioning model of the received funds.
In summary, we have no way of meeting your expectations at this time.

I don't think I can find a better comment than VaGla himself:

By the way, is not remunerating authors by copyright collectives can itself be considered copyright infringement?

Creators' inalienable right to financial gratification

That's another very dangerous idea being passed under the guise of "working in artists' interests" (by none other than copyright collectives, of course). The proposal is: as authors are often in a much worse negotiating position when discussing their remuneration terms with their publisher or producer, it should be made impossible for authors to abdicate or transfer their right to financial gratification. Thus, every time a work is "exploited", artists themselves will also have to receive money.

These, of course, would go through copyright collectives. But that's okay, as "the only chance for money reaching the artist are copyright collectives", right?

Regardless of who should receive such royalties, the very fact of their introduction would make libre licenses ineffective — each use, even of a libre-licensed work, would mean payable royalties. That means Wikipedia would be (financially) impossible, along with open educational resources and the rest of the libre side of creativity.

Summing it all up

I guess the best summary of the Forum and many of the ideas expressed therein is a quote by one of the attendees (can't wait for the release of the video recording of the forum to link directly):

Representatives of some of the NGOs here think this is all about some ideals — it's not, it's about hard cash!

What could I possibly add to that! We're all waiting for the official stance of the Ministry (and the Polish government) in the European Commission consultation process — but we need not wait without action on our own part!