Al Jazeera on the copyfight: it's about control over sharing without boundaries or regulations

James from the New America Foundation sez,

The latest Fault Lines documentary from Al Jazeera English is a must see. The piece argues that Internet policy debates - from copyright to cybersecurity - are about centralized control versus "the ability to share information across the world without traditional boundries or regulations."

My colleague Sascha Meinrath argues that these SOPA and Protect IP were demonstrative of RIAA and MPAA investments in political power and the documentary notes that these were "not about pirated entertainment but how do we live in the digital age and who gets to decide what we do." Sascha argues that these bills were demonstrative of RIAA and MPAA investments in political power.

The documentary wades into current cybersecurity debates and how they are fundamentally at odds with core conceptualizations of Internet freedom. Sascha argues that we are heading towards a world that requires a surveillance mechanism to support a locked down system where choice of applications, services, or speech is controlled. Clearly, the folks at Fault Lines understand what is at stake.

Fault Lines : Controlling the web (Thanks, James!)


  1. I’ll have to watch this later.  This same program also recently had shows on the decline of unions and Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party amongst others. I want to see this episode of Inside story when I have time as well, about the radical right in the US:

    Talk to Al-Jazeera is highly recommended as well.

    You know, I keep telling people that Al-Jazeera English is pretty amazing and they keep yelling “terrorists” back at me (maybe not, but they often look at me skeptically).

    1. Radicals always come out of the woodwork when there are troubles. Just observe the conditions that gave rise to a small man with a funny mustache in Germany.

      1. I think that is often true, but maybe not always. My brain is not coming up with specifics right now…  I think it has to be cultivated and there has to be no real push back, either. 

        Well, here is an example – the reason why the fascists and hardline stalinists here did not get far in the 30s during the depression was because there was already a fair amount of middle of the road socialists who rejected Stalinism (whereas many European communists and socialists were more plugged into COMINTERN) and the federal government tried to do something and specifically opposed both extremes. I’m sure American jingoism actually helped there, especially once the Germans attacked our allies in Europe.

        1. In essence, the US gov could do something the German gov could not because they had the Versailles treaty around their neck like a mill stone.

          Once Hitler got into the office the first order of business was to tell his economic advisers to  forget about said treaty and crank up the deficit via military spending.

          Once the effect of that kicked in and the German economy recovered, he was basically deified.

          And right now the Maastricht treaty is having effectively the same effect as the Versailles treaty by typing politicians hands within the euro zone.

  2. we’ve seen social media overthrow high court judgments and corrupt regimes – the recent(ish) slew of acts that claim to be redress for business and their IP are attempts by Gov’s, who are scared of the power placed in the peoples hands by the interweb, to claw back some control.

    with the ability to share information outside of controlled channels and organise gatherings to protest (& riots) the usual shifty practices of business and politicians have been thrown into a sharp light casting its highly unflattering glow across too many to ignore or steamroller over. Pandorra’s (x)box has been opened an ain’t going to be closed easily – if at all (when controls are put in place – them thar clever techy programmy peeps usually release a get around 5mins later – jeebusbless their geeky socks). 

    Adapt or die Politicos – an in the meantime enjoy an inordinate amount of cat pictures.

    1. “we’ve seen social media overthrow high court judgments and corrupt regimes”

      Egypt only erupted when the national net link was severed, not while it was running.

      Bread and circus are great pacifiers.

        1. sure they were – but people connecting their experiences via social tools and finding common ground/outrage which led to mass upheaval 

          1. Then why did it not really take off until the net connection was severed? The way i see it, places like FB and Twitter are places to vent more than anything.

        1. ” The way i see it, places like FB and Twitter are places to vent more than anything.”Venting in small groups gets people to share and complain and sometimes (not always or indeed often) act. Get enough people acting in concert, organised in this case via social media, with a protest and in North Africa the soliders/armed police were sent in which inflamed the protesters who filmed and shared. Rinse and repeat.

          Revolution hasn’t changed – the means by which information can be quickly disseminated has. It’s not about FB or Twitter it’s about the shared injustices  building to a point where enough people say “Gee – you as well, fuck this lets chuck some rocks n shit”, and when they act upon shared experiences we see an “Arab Spring”.

  3. This has been brewing for a long, long time. The Internet is a frontier and the natives must be conquered, the land divvied up, and rules imposed. Governments were always going to try for a land-grab, that’s why the activities circumscribed by these kinds of legislation must be enshrined specifically into law as freedoms. My personal hobby horse hope is to start by defining linking as a speech act.

  4. “…we are heading towards a world that requires a surveillance mechanism to support a locked down system where choice of applications, services, or speech is controlled.”
    Also a reason I argue against cloud computing & storage. The potential for loss of control and privacy and misuse of information is too great.

    1.  that’s why i don’t call it “the cloud” i call it “storing information on someone else’s servers” because that’s what it is, and when people look at it that way it seems a lot less desirable.

    2. I’ve been saying this for the longest time, the buzzwords of ‘Cloud Computing’ are nothing but a Trojan Horse which they’ll use to centralize the Internet control.  Windows 8 is a move in that direction, which is why I’m switching to all Linux use next year. 

  5. when my country (the US) was first founded it was largely decentralized most power was in the states, then the cities and townships. the federal government of the time was a lot like the UN today, it could make suggestions but could do little to enforce it. the states were largely self reliant and didnt need the central government for much so the central government had little power.
    decentralized control vs centralized control is perhaps the oldest argument in the US.
    in the same way the internet was made to be decentralized, to be a network that could survive an atomic bomb. but of course this means that there is no one to police it, no one can control it because it is decentralized.
    however there is a concerted effort to bring central control to the internet, from attempts to regulate through the DNS(lol) to deep packet inspection.
    and on the OS side we have walled gardens like apple which are beginning to take root in MS and google. we a move towards taking control out of the machine you own and putting it into a server you rent(cloud)
    all software is leased not sold, even game consoles are considered leased.
    power always wants the same thing: more power for itself and less for you.

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