The Kremlin is using Russia's new anti-software-piracy laws to target dissident media outlets and shut them down. This is an eerie echo of the Soviet era, when black marketeering and other universal activities were used as the excuse for arresting dissidents and other inconvenient people.
The difference is that this time, the anti-piracy laws were enacted at the behest of the US trade representative, who made stringent patent and copyright enforcement a condition of the recent US-Russia free trade agreement, forcing Russia to take on board stricter laws than those in place in the US. This includes laws that would never pass Constitutional muster stateside, like a scheme for police licensing and inspection of CD and DVD presses. Imagine that: Russia reinstates state control over the press at the behest of the US government! The Framers of the Constitution would be very proud, I'm sure.
The thing is that everyone in Russia is an infringer, which means that everyone is guilty of breaking these strict new anti-piracy laws. That means that anyone can be arrested for being a pirate, so there's no need to gin up a law against dissent, political organizing, homosexuality, or looking cross-eyed at a cop.
It's true in the US, too. Everyone's an infringer. At every talk I give, I say, "Is there anyone in this room who isn't a copyright criminal?" No one ever puts up a hand -- not at universities, law schools, technology conferences, or at motion picture studios.
Once everyone is a criminal, no one is free.
In the past 10 months, police in at least five Russian cities have raided the offices of media outlets, political parties and private advocacy groups and seized computers allegedly containing illegal software, paralyzing the work of the organizations. Often, authorities demand that employees submit to questioning and order them not to leave town until legal action is completed...
"This is not a campaign against piracy, it's a campaign against dissent," said Vitaly Yaroshevsky, a deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta in Moscow, who is in charge of the newspaper's regional editions. "The authorities want to destroy an opposition newspaper. It doesn't matter if we send more computers to Samara. It doesn't matter if we show we bought computers legally. It will change nothing." The paper says it believes its software is legal.
US Trade Representative bends Russia over on copyright
USA: Russia can't enter WTO unless it shuts down music website
White cops from Aiken, SC improperly stopped a car driven by a black woman (they claimed the stop was motivated by temporary tags, but driving with current temporary tags is not grounds for a stop), then improperly questioned her passenger, who voluntarily gave them his ID, then induced a drug dog to “alert” on the […]
Amendment 90 to France’s penal reform bill provides for five year prison sentences and €350,000 fines for companies that refuse to accede to law enforcement demands to decrypt devices.
In 1996, in the midst of the Clinton administration’s attack on the Internet and cryptography, Grateful Dead lyricist and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow sat down in Davos, Switzerland, where he’d been addressing world leaders on the subject of the Internet and human rights, and wrote one of net-culture’s formative documents: The Declaration of Independence […]
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]