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Posts Tagged ‘Glyn Moody’

Celebrate Software Freedom Day

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 17, 2010

Saturday September 18th is

a graphic sun rises over a green hill

All around the world people will be celebrating Software Freedom Day on Saturday. The idea is of course to both celebrate and raise awareness of Free Open Source Software issues.

I believe the first software freeing license was the GNU General Public License

Free Software Foundation is probably the heart of the Free Software movement which is defined by Richard Stallman’s Four Freedoms.

Free Software Foundations line drawing of the GNU mascott/logo

Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

A program is free software if users have all of these freedoms. Thus, you should be free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone anywhere. Being free to do these things means (among other things) that you do not have to ask or pay for permission to do so.

GNU: Richard Stallman’s The Free Software Definition

Saturday september 18 2010 softwarefreedomDOTorg Celebrate the day Software Freedom Day
These revolutionary concepts, like any good idea, have crossed over into other areas, such as copyright. As corporations work to lock creative works under increasingly restrictive copyright law, creators of art and music, like creators of software before them, have been offered the chance to achieve freedom from the chilling effects of the repressive copyright through Creative Commons licensing.

Creative Commons licensing is growing. There are branches around the world, like our Creative Commons Canada, which allow creators to license their creations in the way that they want in conjunction with their own country’s copyright law.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to attend the Software Freedom Celebration being put on by KWLUG and Kitchener-Waterloo Chapter of Ubuntu Canada and the the Working Centre being held in Kitchener’s Kwartzlab hackerspace.

Visit the Software Freedom Day website to find out what cool Software Freedom Celebration is happening in your neck of the woods.



Other Important free software links:
Tux the Penguin is the Linux Mascot

operating systems

We’ve all joked about how evil Windows is for years. And now Apple seems to be striving to be the Big Brother their ads used to decry. Is it any wonder that more and more people are switching to GNU-Linux operating systems?

I’m in the process of switching to Ubuntu, which is currently the most popular distribution. But there are scads of them out there. The ones I can name off the top of my head are Debian, KDE, Fedora, Linux Mint, Red Hat and Arch. Naturally Wikipedia can give you a more comprehensive list of GNU-Linux distributions. The safest bet is to select the distro that whoever gives you computer support knows best.

balloons

microblogging

Identi.ca is a free software microblogging service, based on the StatusNet software. It is possible to connect Identi.ca with the proprietary Twitter service and the data flows into Twitter, but, being proprietary, Twitter does not share well. (For this reason people like me who use both services tend to post from Identi.ca, simply broadcasting to Twitter. The problem for me has been that replies from Twitter don’t reach me, although switching from Windows into the Ubuntu free software operating system allows me to use Gwibber to connect the two services. Because the software is open, people can set up their own StatusNet servers to precisely serve their needs.

In a world of 140 character limites, URL shortening is important too. You can’t go wrong with ur1 generator. The cool thing is that even when your URL is shortened, hovering over it in Identi.ca allows you to see where the shortened URL will take you.

preservation, advocacy & reporting

TechRights is an excellent resource on breaking free software issues. Following Dr. Roy Schestowitz on Identi.ca or on Twitter keeps me up with the latest.

UK Tech Journalist Glyn Moody is one of my best resources for open tech issues. His blog Open … clarifies important issues like ACTA and the UK legislative fiasco known as the Digital Economy Act. I’ve learned about a few Canadian issues first from Glyn Moody, who I follow on Identi.ca and on Twitter

A few other groups advocating for Internet Freedom worth mentioning are:

And since special interest groups are trying to use copyright law to suppress Internet freedom, these are some excellent Canadian copyright resources as well:
NO Canadian DMCA

Anyway, that should do for starters. 😀

Happy Software Freedom Day!



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ACTA Conspiracy Theory

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on September 7, 2010

The latest round in the ACTA talks has finished and KEI (Knowledge Ecology International) has released the leaked version of the text, which seems somewhat toned down. Still, it isn’t over yet. Nor is this an official version.

Obviously the USTR (United States Trade Representative) is aware that there have been many ACTA leaks. It is reasonable to assume that the people who have leaked the ACTA documents have been as concerned about ACTA’s attempt to make an end run around democracy as I am. Leaking the ACTA documents has been a very risky undertaking with serious consequences if caught. Yet there have been many such leaks.

There was in fact been one official release. In the midst of the process. But the American Government blocked a second official release.

The August 25th version isn’t an official ACTA release, this is another leak.

It has long been clear that major media corporations have been the biggest force behind ACTA. And the most major of these special interest groups are the MPAA movie corporations.

I’ve always loved spy thrillers and multi-layered mystery stories. If I were a major movie company trying to pass a secret trade treaty that would ensure my corporation’s economic health by forcing global adoption of laws beneficial to my interests, I would do what any good thriller writer would do: employ misdirection. It shouldn’t be very difficult at all particularly with the talented writers at their disposal.

Think about it. Releasing an official version would show the reasonableness of the treaty participants. It would demonstrate that ACTA is not as bad as it has been portrayed. Doing it in the middle of the process would be a wonderful way to lull opposition into a false sense of security. You can always reintroduce controversial elements once it is again clothed in secrecy.

In the same way the Allies used misdirection to keept the Nazis confused as to where an Allied invasion force would land, I would release a fake leak. One that would make it look as though the worst bits of ACTA have been watered down. Declawed even. It is not like draft legislation; it is a document without provenance. No one stands behind it.

a leak is not official… it can say anything

Are movie companies that sneaky? Several years back I remember reading that three movie companies decided to make a movie based on The Three Musketeers in the same year. Why not? It’s a great story and its in the public domain. The story was that the richest and most powerful of the three movie companies scoured Europe and bought or rented every possible period costume that could be had. The end result being that only one Three Musketeers film was made that year. So yes, I rather think that movie companies could be that sneaky.

If ACTA appears to be getting weaker the forces arrayed against it may weaken as well. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would rather be working on any number of things than blogging about this. This is just a wild eyed conspiracy theory. Pure speculation.

I learned a long time ago not to believe in the check that’s in the mail until it has been cleared by my bank. The thing is, we can’t afford complacency.

cliched but true: it ain’t over ’til it’s over

reprint of an old classified ad- United States and Foreign Copyrights - Patents and Trademarks -  A COPYRIGHT will protect you from pirates and make you a fortune.  If you have a PLAY, SKETCH, PHOTO, ACT, SONG or BOOK that is worth anything, you should copyright it.  Don't take chances when you can secure our services at small cost.  Send for our Special Offer to Inventors before applying for a patent, it will pay you.  Handbook on patents sent FREE.  We advertise if patentable, or not FREE. We Incorporate stock companies.  Small fees.  Consult us.  WORMELLE & Van Mater, Mangers, Columbia Copyright and Patent Co Inc. Washington DC

Some recent ACTA articles from around the web:

Starting with KEI’s James Love in The Huffington Post: White House Blocks Disclosure of Secret Intellectual Property Trade Text

and one of the premier sources of ACTA information and explanations is Canada’s own Michael Geist, whose latest at time of posting is ACTA’s Enforcement Practices Chapter: Countries Reach Deal as U.S. Caves Again

Another important ACTA Source has long been La Quadrature Du Net

TECHDIRT: And, Of Course, ACTA Leaks: Some Good, Plenty Of Bad

TECHEYE.NET: ACTA turns on Movie Studios

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: Piracy setback for movie giants

OPEN ENTERPRISE Glyn Moody: ACTA: Please Do What Simon Says…

NationalJournal Tech Daily Dose: Scope Of ACTA Worries Critics

Zero Paid: ACTA Leaks Again – Our Review of the August 2010 Copy

P2PNET: Latest ACTA draft leaked online

ZDNET Australia: ACTA warms to ISPs?

Wild Webmink: URGENT: Has Your MEP Signed The ACTA Written Declaration?

WIRED INN: ACTA Letter to MEPs

POGO WAS RIGHT: Of Note: Text of ACTA leaked (updated)

PNT: ISP Liability For Infringement Nuked, ACTA Leak Reveals

STAND UP DIGGERS ALL: ACTA: Treaty without a cause?

TORRENT FREAK: ISP Liability For Infringement Nuked, ACTA Leak Reveals

Oh! Canada: ACTA keeps chugging along post

and ending with the inimitable Cory Doctorow’s boingboing: Latest leaked draft of secret copyright treaty: US trying to cram DRM rules down the world’s throats

Any way you slice it, ACTA continues to be bad.


Image Credit:

“A COPYRIGHT will protect you from pirates” under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike License (cc by-sa) by Ioan Sameli

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Parody: Downfall

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on April 23, 2010

Canadian Copyright

Johnny Wayne holds a brush under his nose to compliment his Hitler Hairdo as Frank Shuster reads from the script at a CBC microphone

the past

Growing up in Canada, had I thought about it at all, it would never have occurred to me that parody was not protected under Canadian copyright law. After all, parody has long been a major staple of Canadian comedy. Who could forget the classic CBC comedy specials featuring the famed Canadian comic duo Wayne and Shuster?

Wayne and Shuster were parody. Generations of Canadians grew up laughing at their comedy.

Who could possibly forget Johnny Wayne in Spock ears…?

Or a a bald Frank Shuster captaining the Love Boat…?

Wayne and Schuster satirized, lampooned and parodied anything and everything over the course of their career which spanned decades. In those days, producers of the American television programs that Wayne and Shuster parodied probably had no idea that Canadian copyright law was any different than American copyright law which does allow parody. It would never have occurred to any of them that they could have sued the CBC on the basis of Wayne and Shuster content. In those days the big media companies were just happy Wayne and Shuster gave them such great free publicity.

It is absurd that parody is NOT protected under Canadian copyright law

Canadians have contributed a vast amount to the world of humour over the years. The fact that parody is not protected in Canada is probably one reason why so many Canadians in the funny business have emigrated south. Yet Canadians are always willing to laugh at ourselves and our foibles through parody. Parody helps us let off steam so we don’t take to the streets and storm the Bastille.

Yet in today’s world Canadians reckless enough to who commit parody in Canada expose themselves to legal penalties for copyright infringement.

“the” parody meme

There is a powerful scene in a 2004 German movie called Der Untergang in the original German, more familiarly known to English speakers the world over under the name Downfall. This one scene from this film is quite probably the single most re-mixed bit of video in the history of the world.

The first time I saw a Downfall parody re:mix it was lampooning ill advised Canadian government activities.   But that was not the last time I saw a Downfall (Der Untergang) parody. There have been many many more.

I had never even heard of Constantin Film or Downfall (Der Untergang) before the subtitled parodies of began surfacing on YouTube a couple of years ago. I think that’s probably true for most of the world’s population outside of Germany.

But over the last couple of years this one Downfall scene has been subtitled, and subtitled, and subtitled again, and uploaded to YouTube, to illustrate a wide variety of issues and causes. Some are political minefields, while others are purely frivolous, like this anti Comic MS font Downfall parody.

But even though parody has been protected under American law for many years, the American DMCA allows take down notices on the basis of mere allegations. Contrary to the body of law that came before, this reversal puts the onus of defense on the accused, and allegations of infringement are treated as proof, and it YouTube seems to pull videos at any rights holder request, whether under DMCA or not.

This puts the accused in the dubious position of guilty until proven innocent. This also means the rights holders can censor parody by saying it copyright infringement.

MIT Free Culture has created an internet research project called YouTomb, to track videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation. You can see their Constantin Film Produktion GmbH results here.

A few days back UK blogger Glyn Moody passed along an online article warning of that Constantin Film the company that made Downfall decided to take action against these parodies.

“Also, someone really needs to make a video about Hitler being upset that Constantin Film is DCMAing Hitler parodies.”

MG Siegler, Techcrunch: Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies

Of course, in true internet fashion, the reaction to this is, naturally enough, a parody. I learned about this new parody clip, easily the funniest parody version I’ve yet seen, from a Malaysian friend who was heard about it from a New Zealand friend who was ReTweeting the Electronic Freedom Foundation. I hope it stays on YouTube as long as possible. Because not only is it funny, it makes some excellent points about copyright. In the interim, by linking to it here I may help a few more folks see it: The Downfall Parody in response to the Downfall Parody take-down notices

I can certainly understand that the film makers who crafted this ultra serious historical film Der Untergang might have a hard time accepting the fact that what is probably one of the most powerful scenes in the film has been transformed into a re:mix parody meme. At the same time, this has enormously raised the visibility of both the film and the film company on an international level. I know at least one person who intends to purchase a copy of Downfall (Der Untergang) specifically because the scene that has been parodied so many times is clearly so well done.

Another other notable copyright reform parody was created by E.F.F. director Brad Templeton, whose parody Hitler, as “Downfall” producer, orders a DMCA takedown promoting parody and the Electronic Freedom Foundation was actually taken down, but is now back online. You can read all about it in his blog Brad Ideas. At the end of Brad’s film he gives a link to the E.F.F. Fair Use page

I hope that Constantin Film decides to change their position on this issue. Clearly, they have a name that is now known around the world because of this much parodied film clip. And although some factions of the American Government are pushing for A.C.T.A., United States copyright law does clearly protect parody. Should this go to court, not only will Constantin Films have alienated a vast potential audience, but they are likely to spend a fair bit of money prosecuting an un-winnable court case.

what could Constantin Film do?

special features text graphic

The best idea I’ve heard for a  Constantin Film solution was Canadian Bob Jonkman‘s suggestion to release a Downfall YouTube Special Edition. Naturally this DVD set would contain the original film in German, with subtitles in all appropriate languages. The special features would include all the YouTube parodies.

Perhaps Constantin Film could even put together a special interactive “make your own captions” feature that would allow you to caption your own and upload it to YouTube. I’m not sure if that would be technically feasible, but if it was I’d guess it would be a huge moneymaker.

The beauty of a strategy like this is that it would not alienate a potential global audience, but would instead sell them a lot of DVDs.   Once people have bought the DVD, they are rather likely to watch the actual film.

Win-Win, don’t you think?

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U.K. Digital Economy Bill and the House of Lords

Posted by Laurel L. Russwurm on December 16, 2009

Criterion re-release cover art for The Ruling Class

"The Ruling Class" 1972 film

 

The Internet is the ultimate network, a tool that can allow people all over the world to connect and exchange information and assistance, making the world smaller by allowing us to understand one another.  Yes, I am idealistic, which is why I’ve stuck my oar in on things that I wouldn’t likely have even heard of in the pre-internet days, such as the political situation in other countries.

My family has lived in Canada for generations, but did not originate in the British Isles.   So although I grew up in a commonwealth country I don’t have that special reverence British descended Canadians seem to have for Great Britain.   However the U.K. is a part of our world.   I was prompted to write about their political situation in respect of the Digital Economy Bill.   In the same vein I passed along information about The Spanish Manifesto on the rights of Internet Users in A.C.T.A. is BAD.

Because even though I don’t have a direct interest in the laws of these lands, the world is interconnected in ways that it hasn’t been before.   As a citizens of the world everyone needs to do what they can to help one another.

The A.C.T.A. negotiation is serving to bring citizens of many countries together because of the damage that it will inflict on the world.  Although I don’t believe in condemning anything without knowing the facts, the facts of A.C.T.A. are being deliberately witheld from the populace.   More clearly than any of the leaked documents, this fact says that A.C.T.A. will be bad for all the citizens if the world.

Much as I enjoyed the entertaining 1972 film The Ruling Class, it is good to learn that the British House of Lords portrayed so entertainingly does not reflect the state of that institution in today’s Britain.   It seems that the Lords have been paying attention.   Instead of applying heinous punishments on the basis of unfounded accusations they look to be working to re-introduce the rule of law to the Digital Economy Bill through amendments.

Insert the following new Clause—
“Compliance with fundamental rights
In drafting or amending any code, laying any statutory instrument, or taking any other action under sections 124A to 124L of the Communications Act 2003 or under section 302A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the Secretary of State must demonstrate before such action is implemented that he has considered whether such action is—
(a) necessary and proportionate to the goal of protecting and enforcing copyright, and
(b) that it appropriately balances the interest of rights holders and the interests of the public in due process, privacy, freedom of expression and other fundamental human rights guaranteed by inter alia the European Convention of Human Rights and the EC Charter of Rights.”

Clause 4
LORD RAZZALL
LORD CLEMENT-JONES
Page 6, line 5, after “infringement” insert “allegation”
Page 6, line 12, after “infringement” insert “allegation”
Page 6, line 16, after “infringement” insert “allegation”
Page 6, line 24, at end insert “; and
( ) includes a sworn statement by the person making the report that the information collected has been obtained in compliance with all relevant laws, including data protection and privacy laws, and by persons entitled to gather such information.”
Page 6, line 24, at end insert “; and
( ) includes a sworn statement and evidence that the person making the report owns the requisite copyright.”
Page 6, line 25, at end insert “allegation”

Digital Economy Bill: Amendments to be moved in Committee

At this point these amendments are merely proposed rather than a done deal.   It looks like they are moving in a positive direction.   Yet I’m sure that it would help for British citizens to continue to let your representatives, hereditary or otherwise, know your feelings on the matter.

and it certainly looks as though the plug won’t be pulled simply on the basis of a few unsubstantiated allegations:

“the internet service provider has received fifty or more copyright infringement reports about the relevant subscriber from the copyright owner for that period.”

Digital Economy Bill: Amendments to be moved in Committee

And it would probably also be a good idea to continue to sign the talktalk petition

I find it interesting that so much copyright law is being contemplated and launched in so many countries around the world (Canada, Italy, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, etc.) at the same time as the uber-secret A.C.T.A. negotiations are talking place.   Could it be that the governments involved in the A.C.T.A. negotiations are in fact attempting to get their copyright laws freshly laid as a preliminary defence against the day when A.C.T.A. comes to bear on them?   I wonder.

Thanks to British blogger Glyn Moody.

STOP Usage Based Billing

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