An ag(e)ing hacker, Luca Saiu's blog
2018-07-06 00:47 (last update: 2022-10-29 02:03) Luca Saiu

The EU copyright directive in its present form has deep and wide implications reaching far beyond copyright, and erodes into core human rights and values. For more information I recommend Julia Reda’s analysis at, which is accessible to the casual reader but also contains pointers to the text of the law.

Today on June 5, following a few weeks of very intense debate, campaigning and lobbying including deliberate attempts to mislead politicians (, the European Parliament voted in plenary session to reject the directive in its current form endorsed by the JURI committee, and instead reopen the debate.

It was a narrow decision: 278 MEPs voted to approve the JURI text, 318 voted against it, and 31 abstained. Since the margin was small, I like to think that the work put in by me and a bunch of friends may have had some proportionally important impact in moving consciences.

Part-time political activists

In fact I would maybe not even write these lines, if not for thanking those friends.

After becoming aware of the urgency of the problem I sent a first round of emails to MEPs on June 18, in order to convince the JURI members to amend the text. Despite some positive feedback I received that effort substantially failed.

As the date for the plenary vote approached I wrote to a couple of mailing lists frequented by people involved with the GNU project, calling for help translating a second round of emails to be sent to the Members of the European Parliament before the plenary vote. Several friends responded and provided substantial help not only contributing translations, but also with composing the master text in English in the first place.

In the end we sent a third round as well; twelve hours after the plenary vote, the last responses are still coming in.

We spent at least a couple of sleepless nights discussing over texts, coordinating, writing translations and sending them out. I had prepared in advance our infrastructure: mailing list, wiki, shell scripts, the data about each MEP—when the deal is about these matters, people like us are strong; when studying the law and the Byzantine legislative process in the EU and then arguing about it, we are less at ease. But we learned anyway, studying secondary sources and the text of the directive as well.

Nobody paid us. It was not for fame and glory except the very little exposure we can get by writing silly self-celebratory posts like this; it was not even about GNU or free software—the directive reaches far beyond. It was about working together for some time, setting everything else aside and do an effort for the common good, informing people who in most cases work in good faith, but can be misled.

The original messages sent to the MEPs do not show their names, but I wish to thank in public first of all Bruno Haible, and then alphabetically Antonio Diaz Diaz, Christopher Dimech, Alexandre Garreau, Ricardo Wurmus.
Maybe we would all have lost without you.

The future

The directive will be debated again in September, and we will need to organize another campaign. If you think you can help, please contact me (

— Luca Saiu, 2018-07-06 00:47 (last update: 2022-10-29 02:03)

copyright, english, eucd-2018, europe, free-software, gnu, politics

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Luca Saiu

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