PROTEST against ACTA on the 11th of February 2012, Support Operation Black ‘March’, & SIGN ANTI ACTA PETITIONS!
04/02/2012 3 Comments
At the end of the 20th century analogue technology in the form of cassette tapes, video cassette recorders, and the Xerox machine created new opportunities for people to behave in ways that astonished the media business. It turned out we’re don’t only consume, but we also like to produce and we like to share. We would record our favourite radio shows, music, TV shows, copy written media, and share with our friends. These copies where mostly low quality and for non-profit.
This subversive behaviour by everyday people freaked the media businesses out. Jack Valenti who was the head lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America between the 5th of September 1921 and the 26th of April 2007 likened the ferocious video cassette recorder to Jack the Ripper and poor helpless Hollywood to a woman at home alone.
ROUND ONE- The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 and Fair Use
The media industries demanded that US Congress do something, so in the 1992 Congress passed the law called The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. What the The Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 said was, if people are taping stuff off the radio and then making mixtapes for their friends, that is not a crime. That’s okay. Taping and remixing and sharing with your friends is okay. If you make lots and lots of high quality copies and you sell them that is not okay. But this taping business, fine, let it go. Thus came in the concept of Fair Use that would influence international trade mark law.
But the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 made the media businesses irate, they must have fumed over all the wasted donations to Congress as they had wanted the US Congress to outlaw copying outright.
ROUND TWO – DMCA
After the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 was passed, the media businesses gave up on the idea of legal versus illegal distinctions for copying. it was clear to them that if Congress was acting in their framework, they might actually increase the rights of citizens to take part in our own media environment, so they formulated a new plan.
The new plan appeared in its first full form in 1998, it was called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA for short. It was a complicated legislation, but the main thrust of the DMCA was that it was legal to sell the public uncopyable digital material.
But it is impossible to make digital information uncopyable. There is no such thing as uncopyable digital material. Professor of Princeton Ed Felton a prominent computer scientist and outspoken opponent of the DMCA said, “It would be like handing out water that wasn’t wet.” Bits are copyable. That’s what computers do. That is a side effect of their ordinary operation.
So as it is impossible to make uncopyable digital material, how does DMCA work? In order to fake the ability to sell uncopyable bits, the DMCA made it legal to force you to use systems that broke the copying function of your devices. Every DVD player, game player, television and computer you brought home, no matter what you thought you were getting when you bought it could be broken by the content industries, if they wanted to set that as a condition of selling you the content.
They made it illegal for you to try to reset the copyability of that content, or to enable the capabilities as general purpose computing devices
They coerced big operating system companies like Microsoft, Apple, etc. into building DMCA into their products. They basically said to Microsoft, Apple, other companies and hardware manufactures that If you don’t bake DMCA into your products then we won’t let you play our media in your product, that will kill your sales, but hey feel free to ignore us at your peril.
Sub Note: Freedom aside DMCA adds an extra layer and points of instability in our operating systems and the applications that run in them. It is also possible for companies to use DMCA in legally questionable ways such as when in 2005 Sony BMG CD copy protection scandal started when security researcher Mark Russinovich revealed on 31st of October 2005 that Sony’s Extended Copy Protection copy protection software on the CD “Get Right with the Man” by Van Zant contained hidden files that could damage the operating system, install spyware and make the user’s computer vulnerable to attack when the CD was played on a Microsoft Windows based PC. Sony then released a software patch to remove XCP.
On the 15th of November 2005 Ed Felten and Alex Halderman Assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan showed that Sony’s method for removing XCP copy protection software from the computer makes it more vulnerable to attack, as it essentially installed a rootkit, in the form of an Active X control used by the uninstaller, and left it on the user’s machine in a condition that allow any web page visited by the user to execute arbitrary code.
The consequences of the flaw are severe, it allows any Web page you visit to download, install, and run any code it likes on your computer. Any Web page can seize control of your computer; then it can do anything it likes. That’s about as serious as a security flaw can get.
The birth of DMCA marks the time and space that the media industries gave up on the legal system of distinguishing between legal and illegal copying and simply tried to prevent copying through technical means.
DMCA had and is continuing to have a lot of complicated effects but its main highpoint was in its early life. The main reason it hasn’t worked out as well as they wanted is the Internet. The Internet turned out to be far more popular and far more powerful than anyone imagined.
The mixtape, the fanzine, that was nothing compared to what Internet brought the masses. We are in a world or at least in the industrialised and computerised active part of it where people share things with friends and even strangers online across the world.
We share written things, we share images, we share audio, and we share video. Some of the stuff we share is stuff we’ve made. Some of the stuff we share is stuff we’ve found. Some of the stuff we share is stuff we’ve made out of what we’ve found, and we find that we do not allways need media companies, all of this horrifies those industries.
ROUND THREE – SOPA AND PIPA
SOPA and PIPA as legislation were drafted largely by media companies that were founded in the 20th century.
The DMCA was a surgical strike in where they wanted to go down into your computer, but SOPA PIPA are Total Biological-Nuclear Warfare, they are saying, we want to go anywhere in the world and censor content.
SOPA stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act, and it’s from the Senate.
PIPA stands for PROTECTIP, which is short for Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property.
SOPA and PIPA want to raise the cost of copyright compliance to the point where people simply get out of the business of offering it as a capability to amateurs.
But just how are SOPA and PIPA supposed to work? They are supposed to identify sites that are substantially infringing on copyright. Quite what “substantially infringing on copyright” is and how those sites are identified is never fully specified in the bills. But the result for an identified site would be to have it removed from the domain name system.
The domain name system or DNS is the thing that turns human-readable names, like Bing.com, into the form of addresses that a computer or other IP dependant machine can use to communicate i.e. 184.108.40.206.
Don’t take my word for it, go to your computer, and open up your web browser of choice. Inn the address bar enter 220.127.116.11 or you can make it a clickable link and press enter. As if by magic your web browser will open
Sub Note: The US government is working on tools that will allow people living in suppressive and censorship rich countries like China to bypass the Internet Walls that those countries have created around themselves.
So as we can see the problem with this model of censorship and of identifying a site and then trying to remove it from the domain name system is that it won’t work. But those paying for the bill such as the MPAA give enough money to the US Congress to blind them from small details like that.
The biggest producers of content on the Internet are not Google or Yahoo, the biggest producers are “We The People”. So it will be all of us who will be policed. In the end the real threat to the enactment of PIPA and SOPA is our ability to share things with one another.
So what PIPA and SOPA risked doing was taking a centuries old legal concept, of “innocent until proven guilty”, and reversing it, thus it becomes “guilty until proven innocent”. You can’t share until you show us that you’re not sharing something we don’t like. The burden of proof for legal versus illegal falls affirmatively on us and on the services that might be offering us any new capabilities. And if it costs even a 0.5% fraction of any world currency to police a user, then that would crush a service with a hundred million users.
The threat is the inversion of the burden of proof, where we are all treated like thieves at every moment we’re given the freedom to create, to produce or to share. Then the people who provide those capabilities to us such as YouTube, Twitter, TED, Facebook, MySpace and countless others are put in the business of police us.
Thanks to worldwide massive support of individuals companies with vested interest is ending SOPA and PIPA those two bills have been put to sleep, but they have not been defeated.
Even in partial defeat the media companies are belligerent, and had plotted backup plans. After the Two bills were put into a deep seep the former US Senator and not head mouth peace for the MPAA Chris Dodd said “Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake. Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”
As open admissions of bribery go they don’t get much more open than that. You can find the petition here “Investigate Chris Dodd and the MPAA for bribery after he publicly admitted to bribing politicians to pass legislation”. But after getting 31,034 signatures the US government is simply said “However, consistent with the We the People Terms of Participation and our responses to similar petitions in the past, the White House declines to comment on this petition because it requests a specific law enforcement action.”
ROUND FOUR – TO INFINITY AND BEYOND
So you have read the papers, watched the TV news, seen the online blogs and are feeling happy that SOPA and PIPA are dead. BUT STOP … they are dormant and not dead, the MPAA could tip their check book any time and bring them back.
But in the meantime there is another danger that goes by the name of ACTA.
If you are one of those who fought against SOPA and PIPA then you had the support of large names like Google, and Wikipedia, this time round such support is missing, in dead Google is supporting ACTA.
WHAT IS ACTA?
ACTA stands for the “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”, it was announced in late 2007.
The US, EU, Switzerland, and Japan said they would negotiate a new intellectual property enforcement agreement to counter the illegal counterfeit goods trade across borders. The US signed it last October 2011, along with other major players such as Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Australia.
The European member states still have to wait for the European Parliament to agree and ratify.
WHAT DOES ACTA COVER?
ACTA’s name uses the word “counterfeiting” in its title; it focuses on the transfer of online copyrighted material. It will be easier for law enforcement and ISPs and other intermediaries to monitor consumers, and impose new criminal sanctions on those who flout copyright and patent laws. Yes I said monitor you consumers because we know you are all thieves, without us having to prove it.
WHO IS SIGNING UP TO ACTA SO FAR?
United Arab Emirates
Twenty European Union member states signed up to the agreement, including the UK and Poland (recently experienced widespread protests against ACTA), but it still had to be ratified in Europe.
IS ACTA A LAW?
ACTA is a “TRADE AGREEMENT”, that means that it is neither a law nor a treaty. The trade agreement allows countries to work in alignment on certain matters. It is similar to SOPA and PIPA in that it will battle copyright infringement, but this trade agreement to patents, counterfeit goods and intellectual property rights.
ACTA supporters say that it will not change US law because that would be unconstitutional. That may sound less threatening but as it is a “sole executive agreement”, it allows the US President to sign it without from the US Senate. That means that no scrutiny of the trade agreement is needed.
If ACTA were to become a binding part of international law, it will create a precedent for future treaties that avoid basic principles of transparency and democratic accountability.
If ACTA become enforceable then it would be another mechanism for Western governments to force poorer countries to adopt bad copyright policies. For example, the treaty requires signatories to adopt anti circumvention rules similar to those in the American DMCA, and a regime of statutory damages like the one that produced a $1.5 million judgment against Jammie Thomas-Rasset for infringing 24 songs. Once ACTA is adopted by wealthy countries, the US government is likely to make its adoption a factor in its Special 301 report, which lists countries regarded as having insufficiently strong copyright laws. Thanks to this kind of arm twisting and groin bashing copyright treaties that are adopted in the US and Europe are eventually foisted on the rest of the world.
ACTA would continue the one way ratchet towards ever stronger copyright protections. ACTA establish a new, higher minimum of copyright protections and enforcement that countries must provide, but it doesn’t need countries to preserve mechanisms like fair use and intermediary immunity that protect intellectual freedom.
If the US Congress ever decides that IP rights have swung too far in one direction, then international agreements like ACTA will bind the hands of legislators unless the US is willing to withdraw from them first.
WHO WILL ENFORCE ACTA?
There will be a “ACTA Committee” created to make amendments to the agreement. The committee will not be accountable to anybody. It is outside the public and judicial process, and not accountable to a nation or an international body. The committee won’t even be accountable to those countries governed by the agreement, including the U.S. government and the European Commission.
WHY SUCH AN UPHEAVAL?
ACTA’s provisions would have been as bad as SOPA and PIPA, but many intrusive elements of ACTA have since been removed, thanks to the European legislators. However the rest of the provisions still pose a significant impact on end Web users and ordinary consumers.
The definitions within ACTA have a broad scope that could be used to target against just about anything. The EDR (European Digital Rights) said that “ACTA provides an extremely low threshold for imposing criminal sanctions.” This means that should a person, a company, or even a government accidentally or unintentionally infringe copyright, this could be considered a criminal act. Further into this, what used to be a civil offence can now be deemed a criminal offence. You can see the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) take on this in their summery “IN THE MATTER OF THE ANTI-COUNTERFEITING TRADE AGREEMENT“.
IS ACTA ACTUALLY SHROUDED IN SECRECY?
The creation of ACTA has been known for some time, but the negotiations themselves were behind closed doors. A leaked US diplomatic cable said that the negotiations had been “set at a higher level than is customary for non-security agreements”.
COULD ISPS BE LIABLE FOR THEIR CUSTOMERS’ ILLEGAL ACTIVITY?
ACTA proposed that ISPs would be partly if not wholly responsible for what their customers such as illegal file sharing. These measures have since been removed. Reduced to a mere footnote in the text, countries can now do as much or as little as they like to limit ISP liability.
WILL ISPS BE FORCED TO SNOOP ON ITS USERS?
ACTA could give governments new powers to deal with “Internet distribution and information technology”.
In the first drafts ISPs could have been forced into blocking sites that infringe copyright. They may have been forced into installing “mandatory network-level filtering” at ISP-level, these measures have since been removed from ACTA.
The European Union adopted an Internet freedom provision, stating that any measures taken by EU member states that affect citizen’s access to the Internet “must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens”. That taken into account, it did say that European citizens are entitled to a “fair and impartial procedure” before any Web-restricting measures can be imposed.
COULD A ‘THREE STRIKES’ RULE BECOME A UNIVERSAL SANCTION?
US negotiators required ISPs to adopt a three strikes rule on serial copyright infringers. France already has a three strikes rule. This rule is backed by the MPAA and the RIAA. But the European Parliament voted against the Three Strike rule, this means that signing European member states will not be able to.
The Three Strike rule could still apply to the US (home land of freedom?).
WILL DMCA TAKEDOWN NOTICES NOW GO WORLDWIDE?
The US has a notice and takedown system under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
If you have ever seen a ‘missing’ search result in Google, then you have seen a takedown in action.
It allows rights holders to send a notification to a party infringing copyright that they are doing so, and to take it down or face court.
But the US has since climbed down from its attempts to essentially push its DMCA system on the rest of the world. But they are likely to try again.
IS THIS TRUE THAT ACTA MAKES GETTING ACCESS TO MEDICINES MORE DIFFICULT?
One of the worries is the vague language used by the text in ACTA. Generic drugs are at risk of being considered illegal, and could be confiscated at borders, making the global fight against disease far more difficult. Corporations would be able to prevent generic, non-branded medicines and drugs from reaching those who need them.
It is true that counterfeit drugs can be dangerous, and can cause more harm than good. Such ‘grey market’ drugs can infringe patents belonging to pharmaceutical giants, but are far cheaper for both poorer nations and for NGO’s to buy from charitable fundraising.
There is however a line between dangerous counterfeit drugs and generic drugs.
Oxfam said in a statement in 2010: “A trade agenda that limits the legitimate movement of cheap generic medicines will hit the poorest people in developing countries disproportionately hard. The interests of big drug companies can not be put ahead of the needs of two billion people around the world who do not have access to essential medicines.”
IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ACTA NOT TO BE PASSED IN EUROPE?
It is possible that ACTA will fail to pass, this is because 20 of the countries that are willing to sign ACTA are member states of the European Union. ACTA will effectively have to pass along the desk of the European Parliament, and this is expected in June 2012.
It is likely that many will refuse to sign ACTA, leaving the US and others outside the European Union in the cold. If ACATA is not passed in Europe then it would strike a heavy blow to the US, which is spearheading ACTA.
HOW WILL HOME FILE-SHARERS BE AFFECTED?
There will be little difference, if you are caught illegally file sharing, you may face trouble in your respective country, as you would do anyway.
Because the agreement also covers piracy, individual file sharers of any sort, including those who use peer to peer networks and file sharing sites like RapidShare would have been in the crosshairs. It would have meant that anyone found downloading music or movies or other material could face fines, seizure of equipment, and even custodial sentences.
However as the negotiation process went on, these measures were eventually eliminated from the final text.
HOW DOES ACTA DEAL WITH STATUTORY DAMAGES?
‘Statutory damages’ allow rights holders to receive compensation per work rather than compensation for losses or damages. In the US the basic level of damages is between $750 and $30,000 per work. This means that one college student can be fined $675,000 for downloading only 30 songs. Ultimately, it can result in extremely disproportionate fines for ordinary web users. Even after being watered down, ACTA still pushes for statutory damages, this mean that ACTA will export the US system of damages to jurisdictions that do not have statutory damages.
WILL NON-SIGNING COUNTRIES BE UNAFFECTED?
No it won’t, however just as the US can lobby the Spanish government to make SOPA like laws by threatening to include the country on a trade sanctions list, it can also lobby other countries with smaller economies with similar sanctions.
The US Trade Representative draws up an annual intellectual property “naughty list”, as described by Public Knowledge, which allows the U.S. to threaten emerging nations with trade sanctions. The U.S. can threaten, and it has done so before to enact such sanctions, forcing smaller economies in changing their laws to align with that of the United States.
How will borders and airport security be affected? Imagine an airport experience where your mobile phone or laptop was plugged in and its contents downloaded or analysed for infringing material. The US has for some time conducted such searches in the fight against terrorism.
ACTA allows such measures, but on a wider scale to include infringing material. The EU was critical of this, saying [PDF]: “EU customs, frequently confronted with traffics of drugs, weapons or people, do neither have the time nor the legal basis to look for a couple of pirated songs on an iPod music player or laptop computer, and there is no intention to change this.”
But ACTA does allow exceptions to this, such as personal baggage. ACTA permits this as an exception, rather than requiring one, making this an opt out policy. The chances are the EU would opt out, but other nations may not.
COULD ISPS BE FORCED TO GIVE RIGHTS-HOLDERS DETAILS OF INTERNET SUBSCRIBERS?
ACTA will give governments a “legal support mechanism” should they themselves decide to allow rights holders to seek subscriber data from ISPs. It was noted that the agreement’s text has replaced the word “shall” with “may”, but it does give governments an excuse to do so.
IS ACTA ALL DOOM AND GLOOM?
Yes, no, maybe, the language used in ACTA is often vague, difficult to comprehend, and often illegible without 20 years of internship under a world class lawyer, but there is some hope. ACTA wants to protect legitimate e-commerce and freedom of speech. It notes it, saying: “These procedures shall be implemented in a manner that avoids the creation of barriers to legitimate activity, including electronic commerce, and, consistent with that Party’s law, preserves fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy.”
However all in all it needs to be stopped.
IF SOPA & PIPA WAS A ‘DISTRACTION’ FOR ACTA, WHAT IS ACTA THOUGHT TO BE COVERING?
If you thought SOPA and PIPA were bad, then ACTA is your worst nightmare, but this nightmare goes on and on. Coming up behind ACTA is TPP, and TPP is even worse. If SOPA and PIPA are likened to Total Biological-Nuclear Warfare, then TPP is a STAR KILLER WAR HEAD that will take out the solar system of our rites.
TPP stands for the “Trans-Pacific Partnership”. The levels of secrecy are even more stringent than that of ACTA, according to TechDirt, with some negotiating documents being kept secret for up to four years after ratification.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said that TPP will “rewrite the global rules on [intellectual property] enforcement”, but “omits the flexibilities and exceptions that protect Internet users and technology innovators.”
WHEN IS ACTA EXPECTED TO COME INTO FORCE?
Prof. Michael Geist, an expert on Internet privacy issues, notes that: “The majority of ACTA countries have signed the agreement, but it will only take effect once five countries have formally implemented and ratified it. That is not expected until at least May 2013, opening the door to stopping the agreement from taking effect.”.
The European Parliament also has a heavy sway in whether ACTA goes through. It must through the European Parliament before member states’ can ratify it.
IS IT TO LATE TO STOP ACTA?
In short, NO it is not to late, but we have to be vigilant, even if we defeat ACTA as TPP and other nightmares are coming this way.
WHAT CAN I DO?
SIGN THESE ANTI ACTA PETITIONS!
IF YOU ARE IN THE UK, THEN CONTACT YOUR MP.
You can do this on line at WriteToThem.com
Or you can get their details from theyworkforyou.com
PROTEST: International day of action against ACTA on the 11th of February 2012
Join the international day of action against ACTA on the 11th of February 2012. I will be going to the London / UK one.
It will start at 14:00 at British Music House, 25-27 Berners St, London, Greater London, W1T 3LR .
Check this map for locations of all the protests, please feel free to join in. But note this is a !!!THIS IS A PEACEFUL PROTEST!!!, marshals and stuarts will be along with the march to point out trouble makers to the police.
Check the ACCESNOW press blog for links and other locations, note their map is the same as the one above, but centred on europe.
PROTEST: Support Operation Black ‘March’
On Thursday the 1st of March 2012 to Saturday the 31st of March 2012 show your protest with your banking power. Take a stand against music, film and media companies’ lobbyists. The only way is to hit them where it truly hurts. Their profit margins.
March 2012 is the end of the 1st quarter in economic reports worldwide.
Do not buy a single record.
Do not download a single song, legally or illegally.
Do not go to see a single film in cinemas, or download a copy.
Do not buy a DVD in the stores.
Do not buy a video game.
Do not buy a single book or Magazine.
Wait the 4 weeks to buy them in April, see the film later, etc.
Holding out for just 4 weeks, maximum, will leave a gaping hole in media and entertainment companies’ profits for the 1st quarter, an economic hit which will in turn be observed by governments worldwide as stocks and shares will blip from a large enough loss of incomes. This action can give a statement of intent.
SOME ONLINE GROUPS
STOP ACTA – LONDON PROTEST 11 FEB 2012
Fight For The Future
Fight for the Future is a non-profit helping to organize the historic strike against the web censorship bills SOPA and PIPA on our site sopastrike.com – go there for a list of websites that are striking and more information.
Press: Need quotes or info? Help finding an expert for on-air interview? Contact us.
Phone: (508) 474-5248
Who Votes For Acta
This group is dedicated to informing people about ACTA. Here you will find information, updates, and most importantly – PROTEST EVENTS!
TWITTER FEED: #STOP #ACTA
La Quadrature du Net
Interactive Timeline about ACTA [LINK]
- SOPA, ACTA and WIPO: where is the copyfight headed? (boingboing.net)
- Occupy this: 5 Internet regulations we need to destroy (digitaltrends.com)
- SOPA/PIPA, ACTA, TTP: Where does it end? (piedtype.com)
- Even Though SOPA / PIPA Are Hot Topics, Remember DMCA Already Has Significant Problems (censorshipinamerica.com)
- Final Draft Of ACTA Watered Down, TPP Still Dangerous On IP Rules (forbes.com)
- Copyright Update: C-11 and ACTA (laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com)
- 10 Biggest Threats to Internet Freedom Now That SOPA/PIPA is Dead (businesspundit.com)
- Thought SOPA Was Bad? 10 Reasons to Oppose ACTA (readwriteweb.com)
- What Is ACTA And Why Is It A Problem?