More news about the Vienna Manipulations

Since their German article was so good, I asked Heise whether they would provide an English version of it, and they did. So you can now read the best analysis to date in English.

Even more interesting: I received email from Mag. Stefan D. Zotti, parliamentarian employee of Carina Felzmann, containing her official statement about the Vienna Conclusions and the process that led to their publication. If she had put them online on her web page, I would have linked to it. But as she did not, I need to summarise in order to comment:

Point 1: "Living Document"

Ms Felzmann emphasises as her first point that the Vienna Conclusions were planned as a "living document" and that Mr Bruck, chairman of the conference, emphasised this multiple times. She also points out her disappointment that the people who disagree with the modifications did not participate in the third phase of editing after the conference.

This finally seems to clarify the way these conclusions were reached: There were apparently a first (pre-conference) and a third (post-conference) drafting phase, with the conference being the second phase.

Point 2: "I don’t get money from Microsoft"

Secondly, Ms Felzmann points out that there is no economic connection between herself and Microsoft, and that her company also has nothing to do with this discussion.

Point 3: "I am no industry servant"

And finally, Ms Felzmann distances herself from the overall impression that she mainly represents industry interests. She emphasises how much she has sought to balance interests in the past and also repeatedly promoted Free Software.

My reply

Point 1: Given the level of transparency of the decision and editing structures of the documents, I can only consider this to be a cynical remark. Yes, Mr Bruck did speak about "living documents" repeatedly during the conference, which was the second phase. Most participants I spoke to would indeed have liked very much to contribute to these discussions in all three phases.

Unfortunately the participants were not informed of the organisational approach and its details during the first, second or third phase.

I remember this so cleary because it was an item of discussion among the conference participants to find out where the text for the conference came from and what would happen with the text after the conference. Noone seemed able to give a clear answer to these questions.

If a dialog was the goal, I still wonder why the people who have shown so much interest in these issues during the first and third phase remained essentially invisible during the conference itself.

Point 2: It is funny that Ms Felzmann would deny so strongly any connection with Microsoft, because I never made that connection in any of my articles. I connected her to IFPI and the music rightsholders it represents, a connection she did not deny, by the way; but I never connected her to Microsoft.

But if someone denies so strongly, that makes you wonder. Joachim Jakobs, FSFEs media coordinator, stumbled upon the "INTERNATIONALER MEDIENKONGRESS ZUM THEMA KINDER UND MEDIEN – AUFWACHSEN IN EINER DIGITALEN MEDIENWELT" ("International Media Congress on Children and Media — Growing up in a digital Media World.") — a congress for which Telekom Austria AG is the main- and Microsoft is the co-sponsor.

Guess who does the "Creative and Press Care"? Right in one: Cox Orange, the company of Ms Carina Felzmann.

If you check out the conference program, you will find Microsoft among the speakers, as well. I could not find any speaker from any of the Free Software in Education projects, however.

Point 3: Given that it was the Austrian people who elected Ms Felzmann, and not the US industry, I am happy to hear Ms Felzmann is still is sensitive enough to deny being a servant of the industry. Her pro-DRM statement speaks somewhat differently, though. And her signature did contain the name of her company, so she did make that connection herself.

Also, there was nothing balanced in her statement on DRM, as it ignored all the human-rights and consumer issues that DRM poses, as well as the threats to freedom of speech, freedom of press and democracy. She also failed to mention that DRM is unlikely to benefit the artists, as the overhead costs for maintenance of a DRM system are often estimated to end up being similar to those for physical distribution models. Ultimately DRM is to the benefit of large multinational rights-holding industries only.

The panel at the conference did touch upon these issues, and thus very deliberately did not recommend DRM as a viable way forward. But as Ms Felzmann wasn’t there, she probably did not know this.

And finally, I am of course very delighted to hear that Ms Felzmann has repeatedly promoted Free Software. Unfortunately her promotion of Free Software does not seem to include using it: The mail containing her statement was sent with "Microsoft Exchange V6.5.7226.0" — and the statement itself was sent as a Microsoft Word attachment.

Too bad she apparently never read Richards article that we all can and should put an end to word attachments because they keep people from switching to Free Software.


Background

As the whole story is getting bigger and bigger, here is a wrap-up of links to the different parts that together make up the whole story:

The best overall analysis and description of the situation so far was written by Germanys largest IT news provider, the Heise Verlag. They have the story online in both English and German.

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