Mathew Lowry

All hail the Pirates

How nice to see a positive answer to the perennial question: “Where are the MEPs?”.

[update 7/1/13: see post by @osimod: Making EU consultation accessible: the example of]

In the left corner, the European Commission launches Public Consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules, where stakeholders are asked to download a 36-page document, fill in responses to the 80 questions, and email it back.

And in the right corner,, an “Inofficial (sic) web form” for the same consultation by the Open Knowledge Foundation and various Pirate Parties, where users can answer the questions online and download the resulting document to send to the EC.

It’s not just a better technical solution – they also guide users through the questions, as Swedish Pirate MEP Amelia Andersdotter explains:

The European Commission does not want too many replies at all. The EC has given an extremely short consultation period: only 60 days for 80 questions. It has not provided any translations of this document, and in addition the language used is very technical….

We are offering an overview of which questions treat which issue. If you want to ask the Commission to legalize filesharing, go to questions 22-26, etc. We are also giving you a recommendation on how to reply to the Yes/No questions as well as some notes on which issues to highlight in your reply.

And, of course, they’re running a social media campaign to raise awareness and involvement.

While remaining outside the political issue, I’d love to see results from this, both quantitative (e.g., the number of responses gathered by the EC vs the activists), and qualitiative – i.e., the resulting impact on EU law.

Who knows, one day we may actually have our elected representatives explaining EU law to us – and how citizens outside the Bubble can have their say – as a matter of course.

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