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:
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:
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 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:
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:
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 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
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.