Recently reports have started resurfacing… (I’ve been following Jürgen Hubert on Google+.)
At one point I left the following comment:
I’m still torn: was my decision do abandon my ranting online and turn into a gamer (HomoLudens) the right thing to do? After all, if we all retreat into our little shells, if we all tend to our little gardens, then nothing ever changes, right?
Yesterday, I wrote about my thoughts on SOPA and how the USA’s legal arm had grown long indeed.
Today, I want to comment on something I’m seeing in a lot of the statements in protest to SOPA, eg. on Google’s End Piracy, Not Liberty page: “Fighting online piracy is important.” Wil Wheaton says on Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet: “I’ve probably lost a few hundred dollars in my life to what the MPAA and RIAA define as piracy, and that sucks, but that doesn’t come close to how much money I’ve lost from a certain studio’s creative accounting.”
I agree that SOPA and PIPA are terrible. They will reduce our freedoms, increase legal uncertainty, make it harder to do business, make it harder to host user contributed content (forums, wikis, archives, social networking and more). The goal, of course: Big Hollywood’s Big SOPA Defeat.
But while the citizens of the USA fight stupid legislation (which the USA will then most probably try to impose on other countries as well), let us not forget that the current copyright regime is stupid, too. We need less protection. We need shorter protection. We need less punishment.
I want to be a privateer!
Update: Supreme Court Chooses SOPA/PIPA Protest Day To Give A Giant Middle Finger To The Public Domain – they keep extending copyright, what a shame! I prefer the Public Domain.
Update: I love this rant: Why I'm a pirate!
Update: A step in the right direction: Another Interesting White House Petition: Reduce The Term Of Copyright – even though 56 years is still way too long and even though the president appears to be the wrong addressee.
I just saw Twitter CEO says SOPA blackout protest "silly" on BoingBoing. I wonder: Should I shut down Emacs Wiki for US residents? I’d have to do a quick geo location of the IP numbers before serving anything. That sucks.
I always felt that I was as safe as I can be running Emacs Wiki: I live in Switzerland, the server is hosted in Germany, the domain name registrar is French, the top-level .org domain is the only thing connecting it to the USA. But then I read US Can Extradite UK Student For Copyright Infringement, Despite Site Being Legal In The UK – and now I wonder about the worst case. Perhaps I should get myself a different domain name.
Actually, I think the main problem is that with all the scare mongering around copyright infringement and the astronomical punishments dealt out in the US, I have lost my confidence in their judicial system when it comes to copyright and patents. The most positive explanation for that is that I’m just misinterpreting all the bad news I’m reading online. My impression is formed by following @internetlaw, @privacylaw, @techdirt and @boingboing, following the occasional link. I end up reading Actual damages for single unauthorized download of software program held to be cost of single license fee (from $1,370,590 down to $4,200) and I wonder how much it cost the accused in time, energy and money to get this result. I would not want to fight this battle in court, even if I win.
Case in point: How USPTO's recklessness destroys business, innovation, and competition – a company produces something and years later a competitor is awarded a patent. The cost of going to court is prohibitive, and so they just give up.
Overprotective copyright and a judicial system that encourages statutory damages, patent offices unable to cope with new technology, a highly networked world making it easy to publish internationally with incompatible legal systems. It makes my head hurt!
Update: I decided to post a more personal message on EmacsWiki:2012-01-18.
The EmacsWiki:EmacsWiki page says “If you like the site and want to contribute something, contribute either time or money: Write content, fix typos, clean up pages by removing old discussions, merging and splitting pages, and linking up and down the page hierarchy. If you do not have time, you can always donate money. Show your support by saying on your homepage on this wiki how much you donated to charity because of the Emacs Wiki.”
But which charities would I prefer, personally? Certainly not the National Rifle Association!
I want to be more positive.
I’m happy not to be living in the USA. The sad thing is that the USA doesn’t just export “intellectual property” in the form of music, it also exports the legal framework to install this market abroad. Sooner or later a lot of people around the world have to fight their local battles to prevent the same kind of idiocy from happening in their own countries.
The Stop Online Piracy Act is terrible. I’ve been following BoingBoing on SOPA for a while. Check TechDirt on the SOPA amendments for some dispairingly inane Congress. Way to go! Where’s Lawrence Lessig and his Rootstrikers movement?
What I find particularly disappointing is that these days, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is being held up as a model even though its “anti-circumvention” provisions are also terrible (EFF on DMCA). Soon after it was introduced, Switzerland revised its copyright law. We are still allowed to download stuff for personal use (“Eigengebrauch”). The government recently confirmed this. That means that if I have something that is “protected” by DRM, I am still allowed to make a copy for myself. To exercise my right, I need to circumvent the restrictions placed on the thing I want to copy. It turns out that thanks to the USA’s export of legal frameworks, the Swiss copyright law now also has an anti-circumvention article (Art. 39a Schutz technischer Massnahmen). Thus, while I am allowed to circumvent DRM in order to exercise my legal rights, others are prohibited from “creating, importing, offering, selling, distributing, renting, letting, advertizing or owning with the intent to profit” the very tools that I need to exercise my legal rights.
SOPA will lead to the same levels of inanity, I’m sure. Just google for DNS alternatives.
As for the rest… For obvious reasons I don’t care whether the National Defense Authorization Act affects US citizens or not. At least they get to taste some of what they are serving the rest of the world. It’s just like the Transportation Security Administration and how they make life miserable for everybody without actually helping much (BoingBoing on TSA). People like me just start avoiding the USA.
The OWS news and the police action that goes along with it has been on my mind for quite a while now. Mostly because I follow @xeni on Twitter and she retweets so much of what is going on. Occasionally I read reports from witnesses—such as the one where I got the above quote from—and usually I just cringe inside.
I liked Hawaii. I’d love to go there again. I wanted to see Yellowstone park, visit some of the big cities in the US. But not this. I’ve stopped blogging about Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine and the US involvement with all of them, but my anger is still there, festering deep below the surface. I wrote some angry things back then. I resolved not to visit the USA until things get better. I’m currently assuming this won’t happen in the next decade.
At work, people are sometimes astonished. How bullheaded do you have to be? I needed to draw a line somewhere. This is my line. Last year I got invited to Eclipse Con 2010 in San Francisco and declined. When asked, I sent them a link with the latest TSA scandal or similar stories such as Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer, beaten and arrested at US border.
Back to the Occupy movement. A few days ago I read another blog post from a person that had gotten arrested, and I decided to write an email. Yes, I know it’s futile. I think I need to do these things in order to keep my sanity.
Here’s what I wrote:
I just read the account of one of the recent arrests and I am disgusted by the way the police is acting—apparently on your behalf.
The account I read:
As a citizen of Austria and France living in Switzerland, my greatest fear is that recent developments regarding police, privatization, copyright excesses and many more things—all the things the occupiers are protesting against—will end up being imported into our countries. The USA has long ceased to be a place to look up to.
I think the world’s main problem is that there is no administration anywhere that is doing the right thing. There is no place to look up to, anywhere. We need to somehow mobilize that secret fire within ourselves, within each other, in order to oppose the change we do not want and in order to exact the change we do want—to steer this boat in a direction that benefits more people, not less people (It's the Inequality, Stupid, Mother Jones).
The only printed newspaper I pay for and read regularly is the WOZ, a weekly left newspaper. In its issue #43, Oct. 27, 2011, it listed some American alternative media and talked about the need to finance them as a form of intellectual self-defense. Here are the organizations mentioned with links to their pages on Wikipedia.
Regarding financing and donations: The WOZ uses a model whereby you can donate by voluntarily paying twice as much. That’s what I do.
Currently Wikileaks is doing the United States diplomatic cables leak. At the same time, Julian Assange was arrested on rape charges, and companies like Paypal, Mastercard, VISA, and Swiss Postfinance kicked out Wikileaks. Shame on them!
All of this seems to be the world adjusting to a coming Transparent Society. This is also a book by David Brin where he argues that currently those with lots of resources have the means to invade your privacy, that in the old days there was very little privacy, that therefore privacy was maybe a doomed concept, and what sort of alternative would we want. The transparent society is a society where privacy is lost in both directions. Not only can you spy on other people using public cameras – other people will also be able to see that you spied on them. Hopefully that would level the field somewhat.
I’m with Wikileaks.
I don’t often post about politics anymore, having turned HomoLudens a few years ago. But sometimes things still catch my eye. I’ve become a BoingBoing reader via @boingboing. Recently I found an interesting comment regarding the 2010 oil-spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
I had read similar comments before. Thank you Lobster, for saving me the time to formulate a response. And I don’t even drive a car.
Obama gets the Peace Nobel Prize? What’s wrong with these people?
Am I so misinformed?
I’ve heard people say that he’s giving hope to those who had none. Well, let me tell you: I still have none!
The United States of America is blessed with two conservatives parties. While they sure sound different, talk is cheap.
Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap. Talk is cheap.
Hope is not a plan.
People claim that he was nominated for the prize after twelve days in office! “The deadline for submitting candidates had come just 12 days after he entered the White House.”  I find that disgusting.
Some people say that “The award is also an example of what Nobel scholars call the growing aspirational trend of Nobel committees over the past three decades, by which awards are given not for what has been achieved but in support of the cause being fought for.” 
Reminds me of certain three individuals in 1994:
You can hope for the best, but you should only reward people with 10 million Swedish crowns having a proven track record for peace. We all hoped that Oslo would lead to peace. But it went nowhere. 
These three people were honored for the hope they inspired in 1994.
But Hope is not a plan.