2010 is the year the UK passed the Digital Economy Act. (formerly #DEBill now #deACT on Twitter) It’s also the year that Canada may get a Canadian DMCA and I suspect it is also supposed to be the year that the fast tracked A.C.T.A. is supposed to be put in place.
I know I should be talking about Usage Based Billing right now, since its been approved and all, but there is just so much happening all at once. I am working up several (long) articles right now. My novel is all but ignored. But I felt I had to respond to another comment on Cory Doctorow’s boingboing article today Canada’s sellout Heritage Minister ready to hand copyright to Hollywood to explain why it is so important to fight against all of this now. It seemed like a good idea to expand that a bit and post it here too.
Standing back and letting those powerful corporations dictate what Canadian law should be isn’t just about our sovereignty, and it isn’t just about turning our young into criminals. It’s about freedom. Not as in beer, but as in liberty.
We may be living in a world where corporations have more of a say in our supposed democracies than citizens have. But that isn’t good enough.
We can’t afford not to fight them. Not just because its wrong, but because it won’t stop there.
Just because the DMCA it isn’t prosecuted all the time doesn’t mean it can’t be. Once a law is on the books, the authorities can use it all the time.
Or some of the time. Or none.
They might only haul it out when they need it to silence dissidents.
Even if they don’t bother to make use of a law, once it’s made, it has full force whenever they want or need it. Once enacted it can always be used.
If you have a restaurant smoking ban in a city, it doesn’t work well, because smokers (and their friends and families) will just go to restaurants outside city limits. It can be economically damaging for the city restaurants. Smokers lighting up in city restaurants won’t get stopped by management because management can’t afford to lose more business. So it’s usually only when a bylaw officer is at the next table that it gets rigorously enforced.
On the other hand, if you put the ban on the whole province, it will work much better. Smokers won’t have a choice, and restaurants aren’t going to have to worry about losing business. and for the most part, you’ll find smokers standing outside smoking even during blizzards. Because unless you live on a border, there won’t be a feasible alternative. Because unless you live on a border, there won’t be a feasible alternative.
In much the same way, if you pass the DMCA, it won’t work well because of all those other jurisdictions that don’t have laws like it.
So you lobby other governments to get them to do what you’ve done. You begin negotiations for a secret treaty called A.C.T.A., where you try and convince friendly governments that they should do what you want.
And in the meantime, you convince the UK to pass a Digital Economy Bill, and Canada to draft a Canadian DMCA.
Because the more countries who already have passed laws that pave the way for A.C.T.A., the more chance there is that A.C.T.A. passes. I mean, what’s the big deal? A.C.T.A. is only a few countries. Look at India… they just passed some great laws.
But the point is that if A.C.T.A. passes, the solidarity of the A.C.T.A. signatories can be used to intimidate the non-A.C.T.A. signatories to do what you want too. A.C.T.A. is doing it this way on purpose. It will be much easier to get their friends to sign on than try and get the whole world to agree.
Once the whole world has DMCA laws, there will be no safety for people who are doing what my generation was allowed to do legally. Funny, isn’t it, that cassette recorders and later video cassette recorders were made by companies like Sony… a corporation that wants to stop us and especially our children from making recordings today.
Why on earth would anyone have purchased cassette recorders if it wasn’t to copy our favorite songs from records to make dance tapes for parties?
Because most people are law abiding, they will follow the new laws, even if they don’t agree with them.
Eventually the new laws will be accepted. Even though countries like India may have passed the non-DMCA copyright law any sovereign nation should be able to make, which conforms to the WIPO treaties India has signed India was placed on the USTR watch list, as was Canada. This is another way the United states seeks to bully sovereign nations into bending to their will. If Canada makes a DMCA copyright law and signs A.C.T.A. we will be able to help our American cousins bully India into following A.C.T.A. although clearly India has not chosen to. But surely India can be economically coerced into changing their laws to match ACTA. After all, how many call centers (like Bell Canada’s, for instance) are located in India? People have to eat.
Once the new DMCA/A.C.T.A, laws are everywhere it will be much more difficult to undo them.
Worse, the corporations behind them will be even more powerful.
If they haven’t already snuck in laws in allowing government spyware– not just on the Internet but on our computers too– as was attempted in Canada last year, it will be much easier now. Now that the law is universal, it is a vindication of the idea that piracy–even personal use piracy– is bad. And once piracy is no longer legally defensible anywhere in the world, law enforcement will need teeth to do the job of wiping out the insidious crime of piracy.
A nice little law outlawing private encryption would really be handy.
Certainly large corporate entities with important sensitive data will still require encryption. They could be allowed to proceed with government oversight, perhaps licensing. The bank would have to allow government inspections of the data they encrypt, just to make sure that there is no piracy being hidden behind the encryption. There would need to be a whole new arm of law enforcement to manage it. And think of the income the government could generate by licensing encryption.
This is all to wipe out piracy, right? To get that underway, we’ll have to make some examples. Going after commercial pirates isn’t enough. It’s those bloody kids pirating movies in their parents basements that are the problem. Some of them are copying movies from DVDs they’ve purchased and upload them to p2p networks so other kids can watch them for free. What a dastardly crime. A few of those badly behaved kids need to be arrested to make the point. Put a good scare in them. Make an example of them. Throw some really big show trials and put a few of these depraved pirate children in jail. That’ll teach ‘em not to share!
But of course even jailing non-commercial pirates won’t actually do the trick. In fact, it will probably encourage an entire pirate underground.
The next step in the war to wipe out those pesky pirates would be making p2p networks illegal. A final solution to digital piracy. After all, if there was no p2p there would be no piracy, right? So now, finally, p2p would become illegal. No loss, eh?
Project Gutenberg: Gone.
Maybe they could start selling those public domain ebooks, since distribution will be a problem without p2p.
But hey, if they go under that’s OK, people can still buy ebooks from Google and Amazon.
Loss to literature and literacy: immense
Free-Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS): Gone
Without p2p distros, many FLOSS apps will of necessity become LOSS since “free as in beer” may no longer be affordable.
But that’s OK. The real pros like Microsoft and Apple are the ones that should be making software.
Loss to technology: astounding
Independent Music Recordings: Gone.
With the loss of nearly free digital distribution, musicians will have to give up their dreams if they aren’t one of the few acts signed by CRIA members. As it was in the days before the Internet, it will again be far too expensive for Independents to release their own music.
That’s OK. RIAA/CRIA are the experts after all. Why shouldn’t they have total control of the music we listen to.
Loss to culture: incalculable
Because you see, when enough countries have DMCAs and Digital Economy Bills, they will start clamping down.
Because they can.