interweb freedom

(formerly Stop Usage Based Billing)

2010 is the new 1984

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on May 27, 2010

No Usage Based Billing2010 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.

Canadian DMCA graphic by laurelrusswurm

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.

And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight a Canadian DMCA or A.C.T.A.

We can’t afford not to fight them. Not just because its wrong, but because it won’t stop there.

Scale of justice gold by Erasoft 24, a public domain image from Wikipedia

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.

No Smoking Sign

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.

The world wearing mickey mouse ears

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.

boombox graphic by Linda Kim, Public Domain clip art

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.

Original art from the public domain Oscar Wilde's “The Nightingale and the Rose” digitized by Project Gutenberg

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.

Canadians don’t want a Canadian DMCA. Tell the Minister of Heritage James Moore on Twitter, although writing paper letters to all the politicians would a good thing too.

Just say:

No Canadian DMCA



If you haven’t already, sign the petition. There are only 10808 signatures.

If you have already signed, who else should you be asking to sign?

That’s easy: anyone who uses the Internet.

Because Usage Based Billing will harm both Canadians and our Economy.

http://dissolvethecrtc.ca/

STOP Usage Based Billing

STOP Usage Based Billing



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7 Responses to “2010 is the new 1984”

  1. […] #62 Sign the Petition #63 Write Letters to Stop UBB #64 No PDF Files Please #65 #digicon #66 2010 is the new 1984 #67 New Business Models […]

  2. RobertX said

    Glad to have you on our side! 🙂

  3. RobertX said

    Laurel,

    Here’s a question I have…

    Are Gutenberg books distributed by P2P? I thought there were just text files. Besides, I don’t think that the government and the lobby groups, as evil as they are, could ban public domain books even if they wanted to.

    I mean no disrespect, but can you clarify this?

    • RobertX said

      OK, I just visited the Gutenberg web site again and found out that they indeed use P2P for their distribution.

      However, the main source of distributing seems to be with text files and that can be downloaded individually via HTTP, not Magnet links or Bit Torrent.

      • Having not actually ever used p2p myself, I’m going on what I’d read from Gutenberg. I am actually signed up to proof read for them but haven’t been able to since internet freedom fighting takes up so much time.

        There are all kinds of legal p2p uses, but the propaganda big media is trying to push is that all downloading is illegal. Including Gutenberg. If they can get people to believe this, it will be easy to get p2p shut down. After all if it’s only used for illegal activity why not?

        One reason that p2p is so important is that it is an efficient use of bandwidth. This is part of what makes digital distribution of everything from songs to books nearly free. If p2p becomes illegal it will cost more to distribute digitally. If it becomes too expensive, the Independent musicians etc. will have a much harder time of it, and many will pack it in.

        I think this would be a huge blow to Canadian culture.

    • They wouldn’t have to ban public domain books, just stop the digital distribution of them.

  4. RobertX said

    NO DMC – EH?

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