This week the Senate is considering major cybersecurity legislation, S. 3414,that could let the government collect your sensitive and personal internet records. The bill is in flux and subject to change during floor debate with “good” and “bad” amendments. Your calls can make the difference. It is imperative that you call your senators now.
More than 350 librarians and library supporters from across the country converged in Washington, D.C. from April 23–24, 2012, to meet with members of Congress to discuss key library issues during the American Library Association’s 38th annual National Library Legislative Day. The event focused on supporting federal funding for the national libraries.
The ALA had over 300 advocacy messages sent to members of Congress as part of Virtual Library Legislative Day, a component for library supporters who could not attend the Washington meetings. Advocates worked remotely to connect with legislators via phone calls, emails and social media platforms.
Geist has provided a convenient list of e-mail addresses for all the committee members, and Open Media’s Say No tool allows you to contact your Member of Parliament—though it does not allow you to enter a custom message, so I recommend finding and contacting your MP directly. I also hope that American and international readers will not see this as a purely Canadian issue: it is, in fact, a part of ongoing American efforts to introduce stronger copyright wherever possible. Canadian copyright legislation has been largely driven by U.S. interests and pressure tactics like the USTR’s Special 301 report. You can be confident that if the American government gets its wish and Canada enacts harsher copyright laws, they will soon be pushing to “harmonize” the law and bring the same restrictions back to the U.S.
In many ways, Canada is benefitting from the fallout of the SOPA/PIPA protests, which is helping to shield us from the worst of the proposed changes—but that cannot be an excuse for complacency. If we make the effort to fix the problems with C-11, and push back against industry proposals that aim to inject it with new, bigger problems, we can emerge from this process as an example of the right way to approach evolving copyright law.
In reactions to my last column on TorrentFreak, concerning how we must go on the offensive for our freedom of speech, I saw many questions and emotions asking what it takes to get Big Monopoly—the copyright industry—to listen to the net and change their ways. A number of suggestions were made, from boycotts to petitions. Alas, this is entirely the wrong way to bring about change.
“The hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, amounted to an abuse of trust and a misuse of power. When Wikipedia and Google purport to be neutral sources of information, but then exploit their stature to present information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, they are duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations.”
No fan of the RIAA, much less SOPA, but this in particular is an interesting point.
Any attempt by pro-SOPA lobbyists to claim the high moral ground in the protests—which they still insist on claiming was entirely the work of a few large corporations rather than a genuine public outcry that those corporations got involved with late in the game—is absolutely, categorically bullshit, and I do not swear lightly. Let me explain:
The Wikipedia community debated this extensively and agreed that while articles are neutral, the organization can and does have political views regarding issues that affect it and its mission (and it does have a mission). The protest announcement clearly drew that distinction. Google’s search results are neutral (despite pressure from the RIAA), but the organization has a Chief Internet Evangelist and a motto that suggests that they do believe that some positions are better than others. The movie companies “just” produce movies, but they have the MPAA. The music companies “just” produce music, but they have the RIAA.
The TV networks he mentions later didn’t just stay neutral; they avoided covering what was a fairly major story in the making, which is can be in itself a form of bias. (Do we in the library world really have to be reminded of the power of censorship to stifle dissent by pretending that both the issue and the protest never happened?) When one of them did do a piece, the representative for the pro-SOPA side was the general counsel of NBCUniversal, which owned the show doing it. And need we mention Creative America? The TV companies didn’t use their soapbox because they didn’t want to draw attention to public protests against their corporate interests by acting as a corporation; instead, they tried recruiting all of their employees into an astroturf campaign.
And speaking of “hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, […] information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, […] duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations,” well, there’s this link going ‘round to a misleading and misinformation-filled Op-Ed by a professional corporate advocate in one of the world’s most trusted newspapers… .
The hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, amounted to an abuse of trust and a misuse of power. When Wikipedia and Google purport to be neutral sources of information, but then exploit their stature to present information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, they are duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations.
Oh, look, the CEO of the RIAA still doesn’t get it. At least he wrote this in an Op-Ed, where he admits that he can present hyperbolic mistruths, incomplete and misleading information, and other “editorial opinions” as fact.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is asking for public comment in its Special 301 inquiry for 2012. Special 301 is an annual report that the USTR compiles listing countries that allegedly fail to provide adequate and effective protection for intellectual property rights of US persons. As we have said before, this report has turned into an exercise that arm-twists countries into instituting laws and policies that serve the interests of big content even where these policies hurt the free expression and due process rights of citizens.
If the erosion of free speech and due process in the name of copyright protection concerns you, you can make your voice heard. Sign PK’s petition urging the USTR not to force countries to sideline free expression and due process concerns in the name of copyright protection. You can also file comments your own comments here.