by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 26th 2012 2:04pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 26th 2012 9:55am
from the people-are-fed-up dept
But, alas, it appears the Polish government is following in the tone deaf footsteps of the MPAA. The government has said it's moving forward anyway, and appears to consider this example of democracy and assembly a form of blackmail:
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the government “would not submit to blackmail” and that the treaty would be signed.Separately, he claimed that there's obviously no free speech concerns around ACTA, because countries like the US, New Zealand and others, who "are the backbone of freedom" signed on... so obviously it must be just fine and dandy.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 23rd 2012 2:37pm
from the you-do-not-know-what-you've-unleashed dept
The petition also ignores the most obvious line of attack for the US's participation: the questions about whether or not ACTA really qualifies as an "executive agreement." Instead, it takes that as granted, ignoring (or, more likely, simply not knowing) that there are serious constitutional questions about the claim that this is an executive agreement -- and that Senator Ron Wyden has already asked the White House to justify the claims that it's an executive agreement, rather than a treaty. Also, it's worth noting that other countries, including the EU, have already claimed that ACTA is a binding treaty, even as the US continues to deny that fact.
Either way, the EU failed to sign at the official signing ceremony (along with Mexico and Switzerland), claiming that it still had to get some legal ducks in a row. A legal review within the EU found that ACTA is terribly vague and wide open to interpretation, such that some of it may violate other directives -- which would be a pretty big problem. But rather than fix anything, it appears the EU (under great pressure from the US) is looking to go ahead with ACTA. We noted last month that an EU Council took a step forward in supporting ACTA, but did so by hiding it in an unrelated agriculture and fisheries meeting.
And, now, reports are spreading about how the Polish government is set to agree that the EU should sign onto ACTA, later this week. There are still more steps before the EU officially does sign ACTA, but the effort in Poland is definitely a step in that direction.
What's interesting to me, however, is how the SOPA/PIPA fight really has energized folks into fighting all sorts of efforts to encroach the internet with expanded copyright law and copyright enforcement efforts. Despite some of the hyperbole, ACTA is not SOPA. It's certainly bad -- though, massively watered down from what it was originally. But it's not the same thing by any stretch of the imagination. ACTA should not be approved, and there are significant legal questions in the US as to whether or not it really can be approved in the manner it was -- but either way, it's nice to see more people waking up to the serious problems with the ever expanding copyright law efforts -- pushed by the same folks who supported SOPA/PIPA.
And... it appears that these protests are already having at least some impact. Polish politicians are meeting ahead of the planned meeting "to review their stance on copyright protection policies." If the widespread online outrage about ACTA can actually lead countries to pushing back against this agreement, which is pretty much signed, sealed and delivered, it would be yet another sign of the growing power of online protests (though, some folks may ask where were you back when lots of people were arguing against ACTA, before it was signed by most participating countries).
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jan 23rd 2012 6:56am
from the well-look-at-that dept
Wen supports U.S. activists challenging the bills, saying it’s a slippery slope to lesser web access. He said China’s so-called Great Firewall, which blocks access to many foreign sites like Facebook and Twitter, was first billed as a strategy to stop piracy and pornography.The slippery slope to censorship starts with the insistence that the mechanism for censorship only has "the best intentions." But the reality is that once you have the infrastructure for censorship, it's only a matter of time until that censorship expands. It's just too powerful for those in control.
“Now it’s being abused and extended to thousands of websites,” he said.
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Jan 20th 2012 10:33am
from the just-the-beginning dept
There is a rather odd atmosphere within the parts of the online community that fought so hard against SOPA this week – relief that all that work seems to have had an effect, mixed with a certain disbelief that for once the outside world sat up and took notice of the tech world's concerns. Amidst all the justified back-patting, there is a temptation to celebrate the fact that both SOPA and PIPA are "delayed", and to move on.
As Lauren Weinstein points out in an excellent, monitory blog post entitled "Battling Internet Censorship: The Long War", that would be a big mistake:
you might be tempted to assume that the battle is over, the war is won, and that -- as Maxwell Smart used to say -- "Once again the forces of niceness and goodness have triumphed over the forces of evil and rottenness."
So the question then becomes, how can a fast-moving industry that is easily distracted by cool hardware and pictures of cats hope to match the lumbering but unswerving attack of the copyright dinosaurs?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, the forces arrayed in favor of Internet censorship are not only powerful and well funded, but are in this game for the very long haul indeed. A day of demonstrations to them, as annoying as they may be to these censorship proponents in the very short run, are in the final analysis more like a single human lifetime compared against the centuries.
One of the key problems is that few within the Internet world know much about how "DC" – the inner circle of US policy-making – really works. One person who does is Christine Paluch, as she explains in this post seconding Weinstein's warning about "The Long War":
Here in DC the long war is not some analogy, it is a way of life. This is a town of strategists and researchers who often lay intellectual groundwork for legislation that gets put into place long after they have moved on to another issue. I should know this, I was one of the researchers, and I worked on a few major issues involving regulatory policy, specifically labor and employment, environmental issues, consumer product safety, and healthcare. It is not very often that somebody sees their work used in laying the groundwork for historic legislation, but the work of me and my fellow researchers was used in a few pieces of historic legislation. It was a part of the long game, one that took over 5 years to completely play out, and I was only there for part of it. I was already left the campaign by the time the legislation went through congress.
She also has some very useful advice for the geek world she now calls her own ("Somehow I was roped in by technologists and they have assimilated me into their development processes"):
in my honest opinion it needs to go beyond a simple censorship campaign, and have a much broader focus. What [Weinstein] is citing is a defensive campaign, but from my own experiences, the best campaigns are not just defensive, but also strategic and proactive. I also think it needs to focus on broader goals for science and technology as well, as I think the SOPA and PIPA campaign are part of a larger pattern that needs to be addressed.
In other words, the tech world really needs to think big on this. The rest of the post is well-worth reading for its information about some of the details of DC policy making; but the central message is very simple:
SOPA and PIPA should not be the end, but rather the beginning. This is the best advice to making technology a larger and permanent force in DC as somebody who at one point was part of this system.
Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and on Google+
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 20th 2012 8:34am
from the there-we-go dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jan 20th 2012 1:25am
from the a-protest-isn't-gov't-shut-down dept
Unfortunately, some groups believe that speech or ideas that they disagree with should be silenced. This could not be more wrong. No matter the point of view, everyone has a right to be heard.Ok. So then you condemn SOPA and PIPA, right? Since those are attempts to silence people. But here's the thing: "free speech" issues are about government censorship. Such as passing a bad law that allows the government to take down websites. Having some people protest you may be annoying, but it's not a free speech issue (other than, perhaps, in arguing the protesters' rights to free speech. Trying to regain the high ground on this issue is pretty transparently ridiculous by the MPAA -- and simply calls much more attention to who's actually trying to stifle free speech by passing bad laws that allow for censorship.
The motion picture and television industry has always been a strong supporter of free speech. We strongly condemn any attempts to silence any groups or individuals.
The Internet is home to creativity, innovation and free speech. We want to keep it that way. Protecting copyrights and protecting free speech go hand in hand."
by Marcus Carab
Thu, Jan 19th 2012 10:24pm
from the stupidity-online?-well-I-never! dept
Unsurprisingly, yesterday's Wikipedia blackout caused a lot of reaction on Twitter. The whole point of a move like this is to shock people, get their attention, and make them start asking questions—and the primary target is those who don't already know about the issue at hand. So it's also unsurprising that some of the reactions were pretty damn stupid. And since there's nothing the internet likes more than making fun of stupid people, it's once again unsurprising that a few different sources decided to catalogue and mock them.
@herpderpedia sprung up to retweet the various freak-outs and desperate pleas of stymied users—mostly students. There's a lot of misdirected anger, with people blaming Obama or denouncing Wikipedia, and a lot of general ignorance: many thought the site had already been shuttered forever, or that the blackout itself was mandated by congress. And since memes are always in their fifth stage of irony for some people while others have yet discover them, there are also quite a few tweets that look like parodies.
But what I see most of all are questions. People are asking why? in huge numbers, and that's fantastic. Granted, a lot of them are directing their questions to the wrong people, and it's not as if all of them are going to use this as a starting point to genuinely learn more about these issues. But some will. And you can bet they'll all be paying more attention to SOPA/PIPA now—not to mention any future legislation that sparks chatter about Wikipedia's Black Wednesday.
Some will say they shouldn't be asking when the blackout page provides plenty of information, but when you look closer you see that several tweets complain about complicated language and unclear explanations, and most are just shouts of extreme frustration (remember, these are all people with a looming deadline on some other project). More importantly, this speaks of broader themes online: people have two primary means of finding information now—search and social—and when one fails, they go to the other. When you want fast facts you Google something then click through to Wikipedia, but when you have a more immediate human need borne of panic—OMG OMG OMG OMG WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO WIKIPEDIA? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME? Omg [actual tweet]—you turn to your social circles.
But it's the internet, and there will be mockery, and that's fine. I just hope the mockers realize that this isn't like when Kim Jong Il died and some Twitter users thought it was Lil Kim (that was both less excusable and more hilarious). Beneath the surface idiocy, most of these people have been nudged in the right direction by Wikipedia's blackout, even if only slightly—and their reactions provide a lot of insight if you can resist taking the potshots, most of which are too easy anyway.
Now that's out of the way, here are some easy potshots at tweets:
fuck jimmy wales. fuck him and fuck wikipedia. dickhead my works taking ages to do now cos i goota go on so many wesbits.wt a prick.'protest [What sort of company employs a quasi-illiterate to surf Wikipedia all day? I'm genuinely curious]
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? WHY AM I THE LAST TO KNOW WIKIPEDIA IS BLOCKED! I BE ON THERE DAILY!!! [I like that she is less annoyed about losing Wikipedia than she is about the fact nobody told her. I've often thought SOPA/PIPA supporters are just mad because they were the last to find out about free movies.]
I will cry if they shut down Wikipedia forever.. :'( [Why, because you won't be able to look up "sissy"?]
WHY THE FUCK IS MY WIKIPEDIA BEING A BLACK ONE I DIDNT WANT THAT OH GOD IM SO MAD [Swap "Wikipedia" with "President" and this would be the perfect redneck tweet]
I think Wikipedia planned this shit. [Really? I figured it was a typo.]
Gay no Wikipedia!? I was about to search something fucking bitch.. ["The page 'Something fucking bitch' does not exist. You can ask for it to be created, but consider checking the search results below to see whether the topic is already covered." Incidentally, the first result is "Flavor of Love (season 1)"]
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 19th 2012 12:56pm
from the true-colors dept
After Wikipedia blackrout, somewhere, a student today is doing original research and getting his/her facts straight. Perish the thought.
The MPAA and the RIAA have never been good about doing any kind of communication with "the public." They're just not set up for that kind of thing. They communicate with elected officials and with the press. And that's about the extent of it. Of course, in this situation, where the public is actually paying attention to them... all they're doing is showing off their true colors: condescending, entitled, spoiled brats who are seriously pissed off they're not getting their way. Boo-freaking-hoo.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jan 19th 2012 4:23am