"A stab in the back": Europe tackles online piracy

By Nate Anderson

As part of their rise to power in the 1930s, German National Socialists like Hitler and Heydrich bought into—and publicly proclaimed—the myth of the "stab in the back." Under this view, the patriotic German army could have won World War I, had it not been stabbed in the back by internal traitors (read: Jews and Communists). It helped preserve dignity and patriotism at a time when both were hard to come by in Germany, shifting the blame for Germany’s fortunes onto minority scapegoats and raising the spectre of internal traitors.

So powerful was the idea (and its consequences) that the German term for it, "dolchstoss," has entered English (and still comes up repeatedly today). So when a leading European digital rights group describes a just-adopted, non-legislative European Parliament resolution on dealing with intellectual property as "a stab in the back of citizens’ freedoms," we were naturally intrigued. This must be one helmet-wearing, Czech-annexing, goose-stepping resolution!

The internal traitor envisioned here is a French MEP, Marielle Gallo, the "rapporteur" who lead the drafting of a resolution regarding piracy. The "Gallo report," as the document is known, was drafted earlier this year, passed the JURI legal affairs committee over the summer, and today came up for a full plenary vote in Parliament. Despite the best efforts of opposition groups, the resolution passed 328-245.

Jérémie Zimmermann of La Quadrature du Net led the charge against the report, calling it "an illustration of the will of the entertainment industry to try to impose private copyright police and justice of the Net." (Read the group’s complaint in more detail (PDF).)

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