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Submission + - ACTA in Europe - The beginning of the end? (

WhyNotAskMe writes: "the European Parliament's INTA committee gets it. Last week, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy of the European Parliment came out with its draft opinion (short pdf) of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). It was an eye opener. Its conclusion was that it feels compelled to call on the Committee on International Trade to withhold its consent to the agreement.

Glyn Moody of ComputerWorld UK sums it up his latest ACTA update. This is the clearest and most rational analyses of the problems with ACTA that I have seen to date. It is like a breath of fresh air.

Did you know that ACTA is so worrysome that even Amesty International has felt compelled to weigh in on the issue? They urged the EU to reject international anti-counterfeiting pact. "Implementing the agreement could open a Pandora's box of potential human rights violations. Worryingly, ACTA’s text does not even contain references to safeguards like ‘fundamental rights’, ‘fair use’, or ‘due process’, which are universally understood and clearly defined in international law,”.

In the USA, Senator Wyden has demanded that ACTA go Before Congress. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, MPAA Chief Dodd Hints At Talks To Revive SOPA

There is an election coming up in the USA. Is there some way these issues can be pushed to the fore? A way to force every candiddate to take a stand on copyright issues? In the Chris Dodd discussion linked to in the paragraph above, people are so angry the tone is scary. The question is, are they angry enough to show up with pickets at every candidate rally? Can internet freedoms be made into The single biggest issue of election?

Politicians are skilled at discerning the will of the people when their attention is properly focused and they are encouraged to do so. We must give them that encouragement and focus, by whatever means we have at our disposal. We must demand a moratorium on secret and fast-tracked negotiations while governments consult the people they represent. It's the democratic way.The power of the corporate lobbies needs to be curbed and their voices muted. The people must be heard. Legislation crafted to respect the will of the majority will garner their respect and consequently, will be easier to enforce. Please see our manifesto."

Submission + - US Lawmaker Opens up ACTA to Online Comments (

WhyNotAskMe writes: "Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, posted ACTA on his site Tuesday. Even though the U.S. and seven other countries signed the agreement in October, the public needs to be included in the debate as President Barack Obama's administration begins to implement ACTA, Issa said.

Issa criticized the agreement, saying most negotiations were in secret. The deal appears to violate Congress' authority to make policy affecting U.S. trade and intellectual property law, he added. "ACTA appears to be an unconstitutional power grab started by President George W. Bush and completed by President Barack Obama."

Gee — President Obama seemed to be such a nice guy. Then he sold out to the entertainment lobbies. "Yes we can — bypass Congress and impose a treaty developed by the MPAA on the whole world". Now that's optimism!"

Submission + - Everything Is a Remix ( 1

WhyNotAskMe writes: "Kirby Ferguson, a New York-based filmmaker, has done a stunning series of videos with an abundance actual samples demonstrating how ideas are copied and remixed to create transformative works.

The Alantic presented the series, as well as an interview with Kirby Ferguson...

"Spanning the light bulb, Led Zeppelin, Apple’s first computer and Star Wars, Kirby Ferguson’s sweeping, four-part documentary series asserts that all creative work is a recombination and transformation of existing elements. Full of juicy examples from pop culture over the decades, the series traces the evolution of remix culture through music, cinema, and technology. The point is not to discredit George Lucas, Thomas Edison, or Steve Jobs, however, but to reexamine how we define creativity."

Kirby Ferguson: "I wanted to address the hypocrisy of property-centric views of creativity. Corporations — and even many authors — want monopoly rights that are as broad and enduring as possible, but the gaping hole in that approach is that all creations contain chunks of other creations."

The Alantic: "The series itself includes a staggering number of samples/excerpts/quotes from various creative works. Even though fair use should cover all of these references, have you had to deal with any legal hurdles in the making of the film?"

Kirby Ferguson: "Nope, nothing. If you produce a remix and don't sell it, it seems corporations will now look the other way. This may indicate that sanity has prevailed at least in the non-commercial realm."

How long before these videos get hit with a DMCA takedown?

I can visualize a world where political candidates are grilled on their support for democratization of copyright reforms, and where the voices of corporate lobbyists are muted, but I don't know how to get there. Please read our manifesto at If you have any ideas it would be greatly appreciated."

Submission + - Zen and the Art of Copyright Legislation (

WhyNotAskMe writes: "So there was this Zen koan. The Zen Master says to the student, "How do you get the goose out of the bottle." The student goes off and meditates on that for awhile, but finally gives up and returns to his master, admitting defeat. The master claps his hand together and says "There, it is out!"

You see, there was never any goose in the first place, nor was there any bottle. We'll get back to this later.

Doctor David G. Post has done a wonder analyses of all the problems with the attempted SOPA legislation, concluding SOPA is outmoded, unworkable, and unjust.

I would say it was a terrible idea. Where did it come from? Who's idea was it? How did it get to be so bad? The answer to that is that it was introduced by U.S. Representative Lamar S. Smith and 12 like-minded disciples, and Lamar Smith's top campaign donor is the TV/Movies/Music industry. His co-conspirators included the MPAA and the RIAA. That's where the inspiration and perhaps even much of the text for this awful piece of legislation came from.

It is as if you had a committee of foxes deciding how hen houses should be guarded. They are the wrong people to write legislation, because they won't and can't look at the broader perspective. They can't see past their own greed.


Imagine there is a rock concert in your city. It is held in a large public space where the promoters got permission from the city to fence off most of that space. Big name acts are performing and the price at the gate is high.

Many fans who can't afford it have gathered outside the gate, just to be able to at least hear their idols perform. These are not unruly or in any way causing obstruction or problems, but even so, the promoter of the concert asks the police to remove them. He feels each person there represents a lost sale.

Do the police remove these citizens? This story has a happy ending. After some intense discussion, it is decided that there is no way to prevent these people from enjoying their use of that public space, and the promoter's request is declined.

How do we prevent people from distributing copyrighted material on the internet? In all practicality, the simple answer is that we can't. It is just as impractical as trying to erect acoustic barriers around that concert discussed above. Any attempt to do so would require as draconian control of the internet as Iran is currently invoking in preparation for their upcoming elections.

Perhaps content creators shouldn't put their works into digital format in the first place, because they know that as soon as they do that somebody, somewhere, is going to make a copy of it.

Furthermore, is file sharing even a problem in the first place? That is a highly debatable issue with many dimensions that I will not attempt to enumerate here. I would only suggest that each new technology has brought incredible reach and wealth to content creators of every sort. Today they have a multibillion dollar industry thanks to digital technologies and the internet, the very same technologies that they would hobble with restrictions in their greed to make even more money.

How do you solve the problems SOPA was designed to address? Clap your hands — there is no problem!

Now that is only one way to look at it, and I wouldn't insult your intelligence to suggest that that is the answer. The intention was merely to provoke thought. I must confess that I don't really know the answer, but I know who does. You do — all of you!

What is wrong with copyright legislation today? Every time a change to copyright law is proposed, it is in response to demands from powerful lobbies. Legislation reflects neither the will nor priorities of the majority. Legislation crafted to respect the will of the majority will garner their respect and consequently, will be easier to enforce.

Given the opportunity, people are quite capable of working things out among themselves and coming to consensus. Crowd source the question, then leverage the wisdom of the crowd. Politicians are skilled at discerning the will of the people when their attention is properly focused and they are encouraged to do so.

We must give them that encouragement, by whatever means we have at our disposal. We must demand a moratorium on lobby-based legislation while governments consult the people they represent. It's the democratic way."

Submission + - Why not ask me? (

WhyNotAskMe writes: "Stop ACTA. Stop SOPA. Stop PIPA. Shoot one down, another pops up. It's a game of whack-a-mole. Enough! The MPAA is in the White House. Who let them in? Who'll kick them out? Policy laundering, secret negotiations, fast tracked legislation — it's out of control.

"The gossamer-thin veil of legality over ongoing secret negotiations fails to hide the naked greed that drives it at its core. At the intersection of politicians, corporations and trade groups we will find a conspiracy of scallywags and rascals who lust after wealth and power our expense. Herein lies the nexus that the various occupy groups failed to unify against."

"Every time a change to copyright law is proposed, it is in response to demands from powerful lobbies. When have you ever seen a grass roots demand for broadened rights, stricter enforcement, or longer copyright duration? Never! Legislation reflects neither the will nor priorities of the majority."

If it was up to you, what reforms would you make to copyright law? Now that was a bit of a trick question, because if you live in a democracy — it is up to you!"

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"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe