You may remember Paul Brigner, the geek who quit his job as CTO of the MPAA to work for its arch-rival net-freedom advocates at the Internet Society, who manage the .ORG top-level domain. He has just filed comments with the White House's IP Czar rubbishing the techniques proposed in SOPA, which contemplated censoring the Internet by tinkering with the domain-name service in the hopes of reducing copyright infringement. At the time that Brigner left the MPAA for ISOC, a lot of us were worried that he'd officially endorsed SOPA and argued in favor of it at Congress. Brigner and ISOC both assured us that he'd had a genuine change of heart, and these comments are the proof in the pudding. As Mike Masnick notes, Brigner was a pretty half-hearted, ineffective SOPA advocate, but he's a rip-snortin', ass-kicking critic of it.
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We are also of the opinion that any enforcement attempts – at both national and international levels – should ensure and not jeopardize the stability, interoperability and efficiency of the Internet, its technologies and underlying platforms. The Internet – a network of networks – is based on an open and distributed architecture. This model should be preserved and should surpass any enforcement efforts. For the Internet Society preserving the original nature of the Internet is particularly significant, especially when enforcement is targeting domain names and the Domain Name System (DNS) in general. There are significant concerns from using the DNS as a channel for intellectual property enforcement and various contributions have been made on this issue by both the Internet Society and the technical community.
A reader writes, "The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has a list of candidates
who are running for Congress who strongly oppose indefinite detention of American citizens and SOPA/CISPA. The link also mentions current incumbents who are working to defend the Internet." Read the rest
Sean Morley, AKA Val Venis, a professional wrestler, has informed a fan via Twitter that "#WWE asked me to appear but I just cannot do anything with them for as long as they continue their support of #SOAP/#CISPA"
Kick ass, dude. From Techdirt:
While the WWE was never listed on the official Judiciary Committee list of supporters, the organization made many community sourced lists as a supporter of SOPA. Regardless of when and how the WWE came to be supportive of the unpopular bills, this shows that there is a long lasting bitter aftertaste left in the mouths of those who feel betrayed by organizations that supported SOPA and CISPA.
WWE Raw SuperShow One Wrestler Short Due To SOPA Support
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A bit of pithy insight from the latest EDRIgram
: "the intellectual property lobby employs too many lobbyists and too few strategists." In other words, Big Content can get lawmakers to do their bidding, even when doing so discredits them and riles up the opposition. (via Beyond the Beyond
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Holmes from Fight for the Future sez, "The Internet Defense League is a post-SOPA network of sites that use their reach to defend and improve the web. Because it can sound the alarm quickly to millions of people, people are calling it a 'bat-signal for the Internet'. The league is launching on July 19th, the same night that the new Batman movie. And the plan is to have actual spotlights beaming actual 'cat-signals' across buildings and clouds in cities around the world. We just launched a crowd-funding campaign. Help plan a party or pitch-in to make them happen."
So on Thursday night, as Hollywood’s latest superhero movie opens in theaters for a midnight showing, IDL members in select cities can celebrate the launch around powerful spotlights rented for the occasion. The spotlights will beam the IDL’s “cat-signal” into the stratosphere, across obliging clouds, or onto neighboring buildings.
Plus we've got a bunch of other cool items for league members who donate.
The Internet Defense League - Protecting the Free Internet since 2012
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FCC chief Julius Genachowski has slammed the Russian government for considering a law
that will make it possible to ban websites in the country for violating nebulous, poorly policed "illegal content" rules. Which is basically what SOPA proposed: "The world’s experience with the Internet provides a clear lesson: a free and open Internet promotes economic growth and freedom; restricting the free flow of information is bad for consumers, businesses, and societies." Preach it, brother
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Carolina Rossini has a very good editorial explaining what's wrong with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secret trade treaty with punishing copyright provisions that's being negotiated by the USA, repeating the worst sins of ACTA and magnifying them (among other thing, TPP will make implementing the notorious SOPA into a trade obligation for the US).
As Rossini writes, this is no way to make good policy, and undermines the legitimate trade priorities of the US and its partners by entangling them in a dirty, secretive process that has no checks on the excesses of corporate representatives from the entertainment industry.
So, in summary, the USTR has released a public blog post about a secret proposal to expand something – a filtering mechanism on copyright limitations and exceptions – which might have real social, moral, and economic value. And all we know is that the only thing the authors of the proposal really wanted to make public was the fact that no matter what the content was, it was subject to enough international restrictions that it could be effectively gutted. The only thing 21st century about that is they used a blog to tell us about it.
Is the TPP - framed as a "21st century" agreement - the best way to build a 21st century society?
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As I wrote yesterday, Rep Lamar "SOPA" Smith is trying to sneak through another variation on SOPA in the form of the the Intellectual Property Attache Act, which was steaming through Congress without any public scrutiny or debate.
Now it's begun to stumble, and TechDirt reports that "support for the bill is wavering. Some of the named co-sponsors have made it clear that they're just as unhappy that the bill was being rushed out this way without public comment and were uncomfortable with some of the specifics in the bill -- and that these concerns mean that the bill may actually be delayed."
Many of our American readers will be constituents of the Congresspeople on the House Judiciary Committee, where the Intellectual Property Attache Act originates. If you do, please take a moment to call your Congressperson's constituency office and let them know that this isn't how you want your country's Internet policy made, nohow.
Let The Judiciary Committee Know That Creating A Mini-SOPA Without Public Participation Is Unacceptable
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It's not just ACTA that is being snuck back into law through undemocratic means. Lamar Smith, the powerful committee chairman and corporatist archvillain who tried to ram through SOPA last year is now bent on reviving his slain monster and unleash it upon the earth.
The new bill, the Intellectual Property Attache Act, will create a class of political officers who will see to it that all US trade negotiations and discussions advance SOPA-like provisions in foreign law. And as we've seen with other trade deals, one way to get unpopular measures into US law is to impose them on other countries, then agree to "harmonize" at home.
True to form, Smith is trying to cram his law onto the books without any substantive debate or scrutiny, just as he tried with SOPA. When you're serving corporate masters instead of the public interest, the less debate, the better.
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The specifics of the bill appear to go further than the version in SOPA. It is clear that the bill itself is framed from the maximalist perspective. There is nothing about the rights of the public, or of other countries to design their own IP regimes. It notes that the role of the attaches is:
to advance the intellectual property rights of United States persons and their licensees;
The bill also "elevates" the IP attaches out of the US Patent and Trademark Office, and sets them up as their own agency, including a new role: the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property.
James from the New America Foundation sez, "I wanted to share this blog post on why civil society voice is essential in Internet governance and some efforts shift control to government-only entities:"
While Indian courts are attempting to control content domestically, a simultaneous effort from Indiaâ€™s national government is focused on increasing governmental control of the global Internet. Last October, India submitted a proposal to the United Nations for the creation of a UN Committee for Internet-related policies (CIRP). CIRP would be a government-only body tasked with overseeing Internet governance and standards setting.
This would alter the current landscape of international Internet governance, which is a multi-stakeholder process including civil society as well as government actors. The US-based public policy organization Center for Democracy and Technology describes the current model as "bottom-up, decentralized, consensus-driven approach in which governments, industry, engineers, and civil society" contribute to policy outcomes. The distribution of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and top level domains, for example, is managed by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit organization. Organizations like Internet Engineering Task Force and the World Wide Web Consortium work together with engineers to develop standards.
Giving Civil Society a Voice in Internet Governance
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Holmes sez, "A crowd-funded, Texan-themed billboard for Lamar Smith (R-TX) is currently emblazoned across the Texas sky. The billboard says 'Don't Mess with the Internet', and it just took flight this morning right outside the San Antonio offices of SOPA-sponsor Lamar Smith. The crowdfunding campaign went so well that in just two days in March we raised enough for two billboards, so there's one in up in Austin too (on 'Lamar Blvd', appropriately enough). There’s even a t-shirt, available from Breadpig, Reddit co-founder’s philanthropic merch site. Proceeds support Fight for the Future and its latest project, the Internet Defense League."
SOPA author Lamar Smith (R-TX) gets a crowd-funded billboard... right outside his San Antonio office.
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Marvin Ammori's recently-bestowed freedom bling. Note the Nyan Cat.
Constitutional law expert Marvin Ammori, one of the First Amendment scholars along with Larry Tribe who explained how SOPA would violate the First Amendment, shares a wonderful story with Boing Boing.
Snip from his blog post:
When I was quite young, I saw the first Star Wars movie and believed that, if I took part in a great cause, it would end with a medal ceremony and a princess conferring the medal. It has finally happened.
Last night, I received a medal from Princess Tiffiniy Ying Cheng of Fight for the Future, representing the “committee for the Defenders of the Internet.” Bestowed upon me was the Nyan Cat Medal of Internet Awesomeness, the “highest honor known to Internet Defenders.” I could not be more honored.
Princess Tiffiniy’s organization was one of the leaders in the Battle of SOPA. She and her partner Holmes Wilson are pretty amazingly brilliant–they were the people who organized the Free Justin Bieber campaign, led American Censorship Day on November 16, and were among the leaders organizing the January 18 Blackout. Many people pulled together from an array of communities to fight SOPA–Redditers, Wikipedians, civil libertarians, entrepreneurs, artists, venture capitalists, tech executives, consumer electronics makers, tech bloggers–alongside millions of people who just love the Internet and hate Internet censorship, from technologically advanced Wookiies to technologically challenged Ewoks. Many awesome people were involved in leading, coordinating, and taking the time to fight SOPA.
Read the rest of his story, and see a larger version of the pic: "Medal Ceremony in Real Life: for Internet Awesomeness." [ammori.org] Fast Company also gave him props. Read the rest
My latest Guardian column is "The problem with nerd politics," and it discusses the twin evils of "nerd determinism" and "nerd fatalism" -- both convenient excuses for people who care about technology policy to avoid politics.
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In "nerd determinism," technologists dismiss dangerous and stupid political, legal and regulatory proposals on the grounds that they are technologically infeasible. Geeks who care about privacy dismiss broad wiretapping laws, easy lawful interception standards, and other networked surveillance on the grounds that they themselves can evade this surveillance. For example, US and EU police agencies demand that network carriers include backdoors for criminal investigations, and geeks snort derisively and say that none of that will work on smart people who use good cryptography in their email and web sessions.
But, while it's true that geeks can get around this sort of thing – and other bad network policies, such as network-level censorship, or vendor locks on our tablets, phones, consoles, and computers – this isn't enough to protect us, let alone the world. It doesn't matter how good your email provider is, or how secure your messages are, if 95% of the people you correspond with use a free webmail service with a lawful interception backdoor, and if none of those people can figure out how to use crypto, then nearly all your email will be within reach of spooks and control-freaks and cops on fishing expeditions.
What's more, things that aren't legal don't attract monetary investment. In the UK, where it's legal to unlock your mobile phone, you can just walk into shops all over town and get your handset unlocked while you wait.
The Guardian: Blueprint for Democratic Participation from The Guardian and The Paley Center for Media on FORA.tv
Here's Yochai Benkler -- author of Wealth of Networks, one of the most important books written about how the Internet changes society -- describing the fight to stop SOPA with laser clarity and precision, cutting through the DC/media consensus that "Google killed SOPA" or "Wikipedia killed SOPA" and showing instead how the ecosystem of people who care about networks collaborated to do the unprecedented.
The Guardian: Blueprint for Democratic Participation
(via Michael Geist)
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TestPAC, the PAC founded on Reddit to carry on the momentum from the SOPA fight earlier this year, is in the midst of its inaugural campaign: seeking to oust long-term Texas congressman Lamar Smith, who authored the bill and attempted to ram it through his committee without any substantive debate, after taking large campaign contributions from the entertainment industry through several election cycles. Now, TestPAC has "boots on the ground" in Smith's home district and the campaign is in full swing, and seeking your support:
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As some of you are aware, for the last 3 months, TestPAC has been working tirelessly to put together a comprehensive campaign to increase awareness about Lamar Smith’s legislative irresponsibility with the ultimate goal of defeating him in the May 29th primary.
It’s amazing to see what we have accomplished in the last 3 months. We went from a handful of Redditors passionate in their opposition of SOPA to a membership base of over 1,200 subscribers, we have over 500 followers on Facebook, and almost 600 on Twitter. We have funded a billboard in Lamar’s backyard, produced a professionally done advertisement, and have been featured in some major media outlets like Mashable, Mother Jones, BoingBoing and TheNextWeb.
In addition to all of this, today we are proud to announce the launch of our field campaign.
Boots are on the ground, led by Andy Posterick, TestPAC’s Treasurer who drove 12 hours from Phoenix, AZ to Kerrville, TX to lead a group of 10 volunteers to assist with handing out fliers, putting up signs and interacting with the voters in Lamar’s district.
DemandProgress, the activist organization that was one of the main movers in the history-making fight against SOPA, is looking to hire a "Lead writer," who lives in NYC (or can relocate). Co-founder Aaron Swartz explains,
It’s a pretty incredible job: you’ll be leading a new lab to try to pioneer innovative ways of thinking about what works in online campaigning. And because it’s so experimental, it doesn’t require a whole lot of experience—in fact, not having any preconceptions might be a plus. It’d be perfect, for example, for a smart kid straight out of college.
They've also got some internships available.
Incredible opportunity: looking for a writer
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