by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 24th 2012 4:27pm
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 18th 2012 9:17am
from the filming-police-is-a-right dept
The two cases were unrelated, but have a similar fact pattern (and one not particularly different than previous stories we've seen). One case, in Seattle, involved a photographer named Joshua Garland, who started photographing recent protests in downtown Seattle, and was arrested and charged with third degree assault supposedly for "grabbing a police officer's hand and twisting his arm." Garland's lawyer, Andrea Robertson, went on YouTube and was able to piece together videos of the incident, which she then showed to prosecutors, saying that the video footage made it clear "there was absolutely no way that the officer's account of events is what actually happened." Because of that, police dropped the charges.
Meanwhile, dealing with a similar issue in New York, photographer Alexander Arbuckle actually went to trial, where, once again someone else's YouTube footage helped exonerate him (and show that the police appeared to lie). In this case, he was charged with "disorderly conduct" (which we see a lot in cases where police arrest photographers for photographing or videotaping them. The police officer claimed, under oath in court, that Arbuckle was in the street and blocking traffic, leading to the arrest.
Thankfully (or, if you're the police, unfortunately), there was a lot of evidence contradicting that statement. This included Arbuckle's own photos, which were taken from the sidewalk, and (more importantly) a Ustream video from a guy named Tim Pool "showed that not only was Arbuckle on the sidewalk, so were all the other protestors." As the Village Voice notes, "the only thing blocking traffic on 13th Street that night was the police themselves." Here's the video, with the key section being from 31:50 until about 35:00.
As Petapixel points out, this certainly suggests that the police lied under oath.
Oh, and a bit of irony: Arbuckle was at that protest to try to document the cops' side of the story, saying that he felt the media had been unfair in covering the police, portraying them as aggressors, when he didn't believe that was true. Yeah.
Either way, this highlights a couple of related points:
- Police across the country continue to arrest photographers on completely bogus charges -- despite courts (and the Justice Department) making it clear that this is legal activity. In at least some cases, it appears that they are then willing to lie about it in court.
- Similarly, this demonstrates the importance of being able to photograph and film police while on duty, to provide evidence when there is wrongdoing. That the "wrongdoing" involved incorrectly arresting other photographers only serves to make this point even stronger.
from the political-hot-potato dept
One reason the European Commission decided to refer ACTA to the European Court of Justice may have been in the hope that people would simply get bored and move on. It's certainly true that the cities of Europe aren't full of protesters as they were a couple of months ago, but that doesn't mean that everything has died down completely. Here, for example, is one country whose population still has strong feelings on the matter:
A movement in Serbia against the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is gaining a groundswell of support, although the government denies that the treaty is being considered for adoption.
Well, that last part may be true, but only in the sense that Serbia will have no choice. The country is currently applying to become a member of the European Union, and if it is accepted, it will be forced to sign up to ACTA, whether it wants to or not:
Assuming the EU and its member states ultimately ratify the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement , Serbia will have to follow suit as it will have become a full part of EU law, said Branka Totić, director of the Serbian Intellectual Property Office.
That might make protests against ACTA seem pointless -- after all, if Serbia is admitted to the EU, it won't even be asked on the matter. But it seems that ACTA has become a political issue in Serbia:
Online group Pirate Party founder Aleksandar Blagojevic said the mainstream media and politicians are manipulating the public.
In many ways, Serbia may be the perfect country for the Pirates. The founder of the movement, Rick Falkvinge, visited the country last year, and wrote about what happened during the 1990-95 international embargo against Yugoslavia, of which Serbia was a part:
"They want to put us in the position of the boy who cried wolf ... when there is no wolf. But once it arrives, it will be too late," he said.
The group leads the anti-ACTA charge in Serbia and is in the process of registering as a political party.
Yugoslavia was allowed to import food, medicine, all the basic necessities of life, but not luxury items. Copies of digitized works counted as luxury items that weren’t allowed. Importing copies of bitpatterns was not permitted, stupidly enough. It turns out, therefore, that this was not a problem. The people living there could make do themselves, copying themselves. It showed on a country-wide scale just how unnecessary the copyright monopoly is -- not just to academics studying the situation, but to the very people, too.
Against that historical background of large-scale sharing, ACTA's attempt to enforce copyright strictly could well be even more problematic for Serbia than for other EU countries. No wonder people are protesting.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Mar 2nd 2012 8:44am
Chipping Away At The First Amendment: New 'Trespassing' Bill Could Be Used To Criminalize Legitimate Protests
from the chip-chip-chip dept
Current law makes it illegal to enter or remain in an area where certain government officials (more particularly, those with Secret Service protection) will be visiting temporarily if and only if the person knows it's illegal to enter the restricted area but does so anyway. The bill expands current law to make it a crime to enter or remain in an area where an official is visiting even if the person does not know it's illegal to be in that area and has no reason to suspect it's illegal.The specifics of the law pretty clearly seem to make it a crime to do a standard form of protest, such as anything that "impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions" or just if someone "engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds...." As Amash notes, there can be times when it makes sense to protect certain individuals, but "disorderly or disruptive" conduct is a pretty broad brush... and it's one very frequently abused by law enforcement officials.
Some government officials may need extraordinary protection to ensure their safety. But criminalizing legitimate First Amendment activity -- even if that activity is annoying to those government officials -- violates our rights. I voted "no." It passed 388-3.
You know all those stories we've had about people being arrested for filming police? Quite often those people are charged with disorderly conduct -- which often seems to boil down to "that person did something law enforcement doesn't like." To then take that and say that anything that constitutes disorderly conduct on the grounds of a building where someone who is protected by the Secret Service is a crime, it appears to be wide open to abuse, and a pretty clear restriction on the free speech rights of anyone wishing to engage in normal and healthy protest of our political process.
On top of that, the punishment can be pretty severe. You can get up to a year in jail for being found guilty of these things, and that jumps up to 10 years if you are carrying a "deadly or dangerous weapon."
As Amash notes, there are legitimate safety concerns to be aware of, and there are issues with doing something that significantly impedes government regulations. But it's really not difficult to see how this bill could very, very easily be stretched to be used against those doing standard protesting against significant political figures.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Feb 16th 2012 8:55am
from the actually,-it's-the-opposite dept
Over the past two weeks, we have seen coordinated attacks on democratic institutions such as the European Parliament and national governments over ACTA. The signatories to this letter and their members stand against such attempts to silence the democratic process. Instead, we call for a calm and reasoned assessment of the facts rather than the misinformation circulating.That's quite a statement. We'd heard some SOPA/PIPA supporters hint at views like that, but not quite so blatant. Let's be clear: the protests and the public speaking out are the democratic process. They're not silencing the democratic process in any way. To suggest that people speaking out over their own viewpoint somehow silences the process, is to redefine "the democratic process" to be something entirely different than what most people believe.
from the damn,-that's-a-lot-of-people dept
What really amazes me about all of this is that ACTA was going on for nearly four years before pretty much anyone in the public started paying serious attention to it. And what caused it? The entertainment industry's massive overreach on SOPA. The response to that woke people up to other efforts by the industry to pass dangerous rules, laws and trade agreements in their favor -- and now the backlash seems to be in full swing.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 10th 2012 4:28pm
It's Time To Let Politicians Know That Using Secretive Trade Agreements To Meddle With The Internet Is Unacceptable
from the speak-up,-speak-out dept
As we had mentioned, a ton of plans for in-person protests had sprung up across Europe, and most of those are happening tomorrow. Reports are coming in about how these protests are really having an impact, and many people are hoping to ramp up the pressure with the protests tomorrow.
If you want to see where the local protest are being held, the folks over at Access have a great summary page, and Fight for the Future -- who was instrumental in organizing the anti-SOPA blackouts -- has set up KillActa.org to make it easier to speak out against ACTA as well. Who knows if ACTA can really be stopped, but it's really amazing to see so many people speaking out against these agreements. International trade agreements are considered boring and rarely do people pay attention to them (outside of big "free trade" agreements that set off certain groups). But to see so many people learning about how these deals sneak in dangerous provisions, it suggests that perhaps we can finally convince politicians that mucking with the internet solely for special interests -- and doing it through totally secretive processes -- is simply not acceptable any more.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Feb 6th 2012 11:23am
from the check-off-another-one dept
"By no means would the government admit a situation where civic freedoms and free access to information would be threatened," Necas said.Unfortunately, it sounds like some of the protesters are still claiming things about ACTA that were removed ages ago, as Necas is also telling people that it won't require checking laptops at borders or monitoring internet usage. While some of those things were floated in very early drafts of ACTA, all of those have been gone for years at this point. Once again, we have to urge people to keep the ACTA debate fact-based, because misinformation like this makes it easier for countries like the Czech Republic to come back later and say that they're still ratifying the document, because the complaints turned out not to be true. There are plenty of real problems with ACTA, and hopefully people can focus on those. Otherwise these milestone moments in the Czech Republic and Poland will be for nothing....
That is why the government will analyse the issue and have it assessed by experts. "We really must look into the impact it would have in real life," Necas said.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 3rd 2012 2:40pm
from the good-for-them dept
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Feb 3rd 2012 11:11am
from the wow dept
A bunch of folks have been setting up February 11th as a global day of protest against ACTA, and if the entertainment industry thought that the anger would simmer down after the SOPA/PIPA fight, they may have miscalculated again. Just take a look at the live map showing the planned February 11th protests across Europe:
View ACTA Protests Worldwide - Brought to you by stoppacta-protest.info in a larger map