Philippe Aigrain (photo Jeremiah Zimmermann / CC 0)
Sad news for all those who crossed the path of this warm humanist, activist of the Free and the commons: Philippe Aigrain, 71, died Sunday July 11, victim of a fall in the mountains. Publie.net, the contemporary literature publishing house created by the writer François Bon, announced the death of this “thinker of the commons, researcher, poet and novelist” who chaired it.
“Political, associative or scientific initiatives”
Philippe Aigrain has acted in many fields, both digital and political as well as literary or even associative. He said on his blog:
“I am active in various political, associative or scientific initiatives. Involved in solidarity with the exiles, I am one of the initiators of I welcome the foreigner, which aims to make the reception and support for its principle more visible. I was one of the founders and I am still active in La Quadrature du Net association which defends fundamental rights and freedoms in the digital space and promotes proposals ensuring synergy between freedoms of exchange on the internet and funding of creation. I am one of the founders of Interdemos, a collective which promotes solidarity between citizens of various European countries and works towards the gradual creation of a European demos. From June 11, 2014 to October 20, 2015, I was a member of the parliamentary committee for reflection and proposals on rights and freedoms in the digital age. I am a member of the Board of Trustees of the NEXA Center for Internet and Society in Turin. ”
In his career, he notably played an important role in European support for free software and the fight against attempts to introduce software patents in Europe:
“From 1996 to 2003, I joined the services of the European Commission (ESPRIT then IST research program), where I notably developed support policies for free software. I also tried to act at the interface between these policies and the harmful regulatory policies of extension of patents, of hardening of copyright protection, of legislation through technology, and associated criminal and legal procedures. There I became by force a specialist in positive intellectual rights (as opposed to approaches that consider intellectual property as a starting point a priori). ”
Against the “madness” of the systematic extension of patentability
In July 2005, Philippe Aigrain thus warned against the European software patentability project (the supporters of this project, fought among others by Michel Rocard, will suffer a scathing defeat). Extract:
“Since the 1970s, a group of multinationals first American, then led by IBM, Monsanto and Pfizer, then joined by some European manufacturers and newcomers like Microsoft, AOL-Time Warner or Vivendi-Universal, has convinced the States to trigger the systematic extension of patents to new fields and the hardening of the enforcement of copyright. Their goal was simple: to realize the dream of any investor by freeing themselves from human labor and realizing value on the free reproduction of information.
In the field of software, Europe and India are still resisting this madness. So we haven’t seen anything yet of what it will be worth to us if we accept it. The July 6 decision is a test for the ability of politicians to define the limits not to be crossed by a certain capitalism, and a large part of economic actors await confirmation that it is still possible for the economy to develop in forms compatible with the social and the human. “
That same year 2005, Philippe Aigrain published “Common cause, information between common good and property”, initially at Fayard, then Publie.net (and for download under a non-commercial Creative Commons license by-nc-nd). The book mentioned at the beginning Wikipedia (born four years before, the free encyclopedia was still small compared to the incredible expansion that it has known since), to then approach our curious universe divided into two worlds, of “multinationals of the world”. ‘information at war with their customers’.
“Sharing tastes and creations”
“In the first [monde], programmers [une note explique qu’ils sont en fait des développeurs, à l’activité plus large que l’écriture des logiciels] free software distributed around the world creates, without recourse to monetary transactions, technical achievements more complex than what mankind could dream of until recently. Sharing tastes and creations reinvents cultural diversity as much as it brews it. The use of information and communication technologies, from electronic mail to discussion lists, from cooperative websites to the networking of shared information, favors the emergence of new global and local solidarities. The emergence of shared resources and tools for information, through the proof that it brings benefits of cooperation and solidarity, reinforces the idea that there are common goods with promising future. Actors in these fields join forces with those who fight to preserve the fragile global goods of the physical sphere (water, air, climate, environment). Social solidarity is emboldened and gives itself the means of quality control of forms of trade and production, promoting in the same movement fair trade, energy savings and knowledge sharing. “
In 2008, in “Internet et Création” (PDF, also under CC license by-nc-nd), he exposed his ideas “to build a synergy between freedoms on the Internet, the remuneration of artists and other contributors and the funding of the creation and value-added intermediaries ”. In 2012, he published in English “Sharing. Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age ”.
“Pathfinder and longtime companion of the free and the commons”
Here are some of the reactions to this disappearance. Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder with him of La Quadrature:
“In addition to an incredibly generous and sensitive being, a wonderful friend, Philippe was a brilliant thinker, philosopher, writer, programmer, strategist, poet …”
Alexis Kauffmann, co-founder of Framasoft: “Philippe Aigrain, scout and long-time companion of the free and the commons”:
Daniel Kaplan, co-founder of FING (New Generation Internet Foundation) and former member of the National Digital Council:
“It was always a pleasure to work or converse with Philippe. Always on the lookout, always astonishing, both engaged and attentive. ”
Patrick Bloche, deputy (PS) to the mayor of Paris in charge of education, former deputy (he opposed the Hadopi law in particular): “Philippe Aigrain, tireless activist of the Commons, who so strongly inspired the handful of parliamentarians invested in #Internet issues at the end of the 1990s. ”
Hervé Le Crosnier, research professor at the University of Caen and editor of C & F éditions:
“Philippe was a tireless defender of free software when he worked in the offices of the European Commission. Based on this movement, he discovered very early on the issue of the commons, in particular digital commons and knowledge. With his work Common cause, information between common good and property, it was the first to re-introduce in France the notion of commons in relation to the new status of knowledge in the era of digital networks. A project to be constantly put back on the site, as for example today around the issue of patents on vaccines against Covid. ”
Philippe Aigrain’s website
When free access upsets culture – Philippe Aigrain in Le Monde diplomatique, February 2006