Posts Tagged ‘SOPA’
Free speech

Australian Government Response to Freedom of Information Request on Copyright Meeting.

There are moves afoot to fight for free speech in Australia:

Keith Windschuttle: So we come well within Finkelstein’s scope. If his oppressive scheme is ever implemented, we would feel compelled to defend the long tradition of press freedom by engaging in civil disobedience. While ever I am editor, Quadrant would not recognise the News Media Council’s authority, we would not observe its restrictions, and we would not obey its instructions, whatever the price. We hope other publishers will take a similar stand.

It’s great to stand on principle, but will he also defend press freedom from legislative assault at the bequest establishment media vested interests:

Australia’s government won’t disclose its secret copyright meetings because knowing what went on isn’t in the public interest: The government also claims that it can’t release a list of attendees because it doesn’t have such a list — that is, the government doesn’t know who was invited to its secret, eyes-only copyright meeting.

The changes to copyright attack the same fundamental freedom. But in Australia they are at an earlier stage in their assault. It is also subtler, with the nature of the evil impositions somewhat camouflaged under legitimate business interests. Even normally sound groups such as the IPA have been seduced by the rhetoric around copyright protection.

While the IPA is to be applauded for its moves to defend free speech, it needs to recognize that government acting on behalf of vested corporate interests is no less of a threat than when it is acting on behalf of vested ideological ones. Vested interests will always use the rhetoric they believe most likely to be effective. They also tend not to give up after a defeat:

MPAA boss: we’re cooking up a new SOPA behind the scenes: Former Senator Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA, has hinted to the Hollywood Reporter that he’s already greasing the wheels for a new version of SOPA, though he’s shy about revealing details because of the public outcry that might ensue. Dodd is the guy who went on the record to tell Obama that he would instruct his members to stop donating to the Democratic party because Obama didn’t usher in the laws they wanted.

and

Understanding TPP, ACTA’s nastier, more secret little brother: A new report by Carrie Ellen Sager of infojustice.org that compares the provisions in ACTA, the secretly negotiated copyright treaty currently up for adoption in Europe, the USA and other countries; and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a more extreme, more secretive version of ACTA being negotiated by various Pacific Rim countries.

 On “Technological Protection Measures” TPP has two nasty turns of the infringement screw:

 TPP goes beyond ACTA by applying provisions on technological protection where circumvention is carried out unknowingly or without reasonable grounds to know.

 and

 TPP goes beyond ACTA by explicitly limiting the possible limitations and exclusions to the TPM circumvention rules, while ACTA gives a country free reign to create exceptions and limitations it finds reasonable.

 The second of those is particularly troublesome, since it reduces the scope for signatories to introduce more balanced copyright laws even if they wanted to.

 

Perhaps Andrew Bolt will weigh in? He is not legally restricted from doing so.  Sadly I expected human cognitive failings will come into play. We all have our blind spots. Traditional defenders of free markets sometimes miss the fact that corporations are incentivized to get laws changed to maximize their profits, not our welfare or freedom – be it of speech or anythings else.

Introducing an Australia carbon dioxide tax or emissions trading scheme will enrich many, but it will impoverish more. Legislative imposts are imposts, even if they benefit some people and corporations. Bastiat’s broken windows parable made that clear enough. Let’s not allow our liberty to be crushed. Resist restrictions on our ability to espouse our views. It is fundamental to Western civilization. Without it we will slip back into despotism and a new economic dark age. One technology will make hard to escape from.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Don’t let the state deny you the ability to even know what is going on, let alone voice your objection. Let’s delay the return of terror and slaughter.

The Gods Of The Copybook Headings

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

 
Entertainment industry is rent seeking

The Sky is Rising: report shows that entertainment industry is thriving; anti-piracy laws are about profit-maximization, not survival

For years now, the legacy entertainment industry has been predicting its own demise, claiming that the rise of technology, by enabling easy duplication and sharing — and thus copyright infringement — is destroying their bottom line. If left unchecked, they say, it is not only they that will suffer, but also the content creators, who will be deprived of a means to make a living. And, with artists lacking an incentive to create, no more art will be produced, starving our culture. While it seems obvious to many that this could not possibly be true, since creators and performers of artistic content existed long before the gatekeepers ever did, we’ve looked into the numbers to get an honest picture of the state of things. What we found is that not only is the sky not falling, as some would have us believe, but it appears that we’re living through an incredible period of abundance and opportunity, with more people producing more content and more money being made than ever before. As it turns out… The Sky Is Rising!

There is nothing wrong with private companies profit maximizing. What is wrong is that they are trying to do so through rent seeking via legislative and regulatory barriers, rather than value adding production. It’s obviously better for the bottom line if government grants you a monopoly or otherwise constrains your competition. Thus companies direct their attention to this rather  than how to better value add. Now why was the duration of copyright extended?

But as a society we are the poorer for it. The more ingrained and widespread this rent seeking behavior becomes the worse off we will be. It matters little if it is bailing out the banks, car industry or entertainers. The effect is the same. It perverts outcomes and incentives. Capitalism made us richer than our forebears because it focuses people on value adding.  Not on how to get the powers that be to enrich you.

Protests are increasing in Canada against their SOPA and PIPA. Also check out our prior post: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement replacing SOPA and PIPA

 
Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement replacing SOPA and PIPA

The grasping old media vested interests plan of implementing key aspects of SOPA and PIPA via the Anti-Counterfeiting  Trade Agreement (ACTA) continues apace. The Electronic Frontier Foundaton (EFF) reports:

We Have Every Right to Be Furious About ACTA

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a plurilateral agreement designed to broaden and extend existing intellectual property (IP) enforcement laws to the Internet. While it was only negotiated between a few countries,1 it has global consequences. First because it will create new rules for the Internet, and second, because its standards will be applied to other countries through the U.S.’s annual Special 301 process. Negotiated in secret, ACTA bypassed checks and balances of existing international IP norm-setting bodies, without any meaningful input from national parliaments, policymakers, or their citizens. Worse still, the agreement creates a new global institution, an “ACTA Committee” to oversee its implementation and interpretation that will be made up of unelected members with no legal obligation to be transparent in their proceedings

Naturally many of the former bastions of freedom and liberty casually caste aside their cultural inheritance and signed the international treaty:

Ireland and EU to sign controversial ACTA treaty tomorrow

The United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Morocco – all of which took part in negotiating the treaty – signed up to ACTA in October of last year.

How easy it is for our representatives to betray all those who fought and died that we may be free. Shame on our government, shame on our bureaucrats. But most of all, shame on us for quietly allowing it to happen. As Martin Luther King Jr said:

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

So start protesting. Let your representatives know your views. Stop your legislature from ratifying the treaty. If already ratified, force them to withdraw from it. Those with more recent memories of living under tyranny are showing the way:

 Thousands take to streets in protests at internet censorship

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Polish cities Wednesday, some of them hurling stones at police, in protest at an international copyright treaty criticized as a clampdown on freedom of speech on the internet.

It’s Polish politicians in parliament in the Guy Fawkes masks at the top of this post. Then earlier today there was this report:

Poland’s Prime Minister wants to put the brakes on ACTA

Tomo sez, “Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, announced ACTA needs to be reviewed and consulted with his ministers as well as internet community representatives. ACTA won’t be ratified until all doubts will be explained. He added that that might mean the ACTA won’t be ratified at all. In addition, he announced he wants to start discussion in European Parliament on freedom of speech and expression.” (Thanks Tomo!)

Slovenia’s ambassador has apologized for signing the agreement:

Slovenia’s ambassador apologizes to her children and her nation for signing ACTA, calls for mass demonstrations in Ljubljana tomorrow

First I apologised to my children. Then I tried to reply to those acquaintances and strangers who expressed their surprise and horror. Because there are more and more of them, I am responding to them publicly. I want to apologise because I carried out my official duty, but not my civic duty. I don’t know how many options I had with regard to not signing, but I could have tried. I did not. I missed an opportunity to fight for the right of conscientious objection on the part of us bureaucrats.

Wow, the idea of something akin to jury nullification on the part of bureaucrats obliged to sign UN treaties is now out there. What a wonderful suggestion. For too long have the free peoples lost their traditional rights and freedoms to powerful vested interests acting on the international stage. The UN is just as much a tool for tyranny as the EU. The UN is stuffed full of the lackeys of despots and tyrants. Tyrants who trample all over the lives and liberties of people in their own countries. If they don’t respect the right to life and liberty of their own people, why on earth do you expect them to care about yours? Seriously.

This is not over. It may never be over. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. The ACTA is not a done deal. It can not just be stopped in its tracks, but wound back.  Liberty lost is hard won back. Let’s make sure we do not lose it. Get active. Get on the phone, fax, email, social media and streets.

In some countries violence may be the only way to achieve change. But those blessed by living in democracies have peaceful options. We are not powerless, no matter how much the powerful may want you to believe you are. Don’t despair and don’t resort to violence. It is so often self defeating for so many reasons. But that will be the subject of another post. In the interim have a look at this study and the discussion around it:

Erica Chenoweth: Confronting the myth of the rational insurgent

Erica Chenoweth has developed a dataset and analyzed the historical record. Below the fold are slides summarizing the results of her study of 323
 non-violent and violent campaigns 
from
 1900‐2006. (There are twenty slides, so anybody with a slow connection may prefer to download a zipped file of the original PDF). Here’s one key slide:

As Polish blogger Valga put it on twitter:

I guess that slowly people start to understand that this is not a discussion about “piracy” and “thieves” but about the direction in which our civilisation is heading.

Tyranny or Freedom. The choice is yours.

 

Update 4 February 2012

Bulgarian MPs wear Guy Fawkes mask for ACTA session

A number of Members of the Bulgarian Parliament protested Thursday and Friday against the singing of the controversial international ACTA agreement.

On the initiative of the blog “Open Parliament” and following the example of their colleagues from the Polish Parliament, they agreed to wear the mask of Guy Fawkes, symbol of the global protest against ACTA, and to have their picture taken with it.

The MPs say they support copyright laws, but oppose ACTA over its possible turning into an instrument to limit freedom of speech, to control internet use, and to turn into an obstacle for the exchange of information and knowledge online.