Podcast of Affordances: a new science fiction story that climbs the terrible technology adoption curve

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my short story "Affordances," which was commissioned for Slate/ASU's Future Tense Fiction. it's a tale exploring my theory of "the shitty technology adoption curve," in which terrible technological ideas are first imposed on poor and powerless people, and then refined and normalized until they are spread over all the rest of us. Read the rest

Podcast: False Flag

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my Green European Journal short story about the terrible European Copyright Directive which passed last March, False Flag. Published in December 2018, the story highlights the ways in which this badly considered law creates unlimited opportunities for abuse, especially censorship by corporations who've been embarassed by whistleblowers and activists.

The crew couldn’t even supply their videos to friendly journalists to rebut the claims from the big corporate papers. Just *linking* to a major newspaper required a paid license, and while the newspapers licensed to one another so they could reference articles in rival publications, the kinds of dissident, independent news outlets that had once provided commentary and analysis of what went into the news and what didn’t had all disappeared once the news corporations had refused to license the right to link to them.

Agata spoke with a lawyer she knew, obliquely, in guarded hypotheticals, and the lawyer confirmed what she’d already intuited.

“Your imaginary friend has no hope. They’d have to out themselves in order to file a counterclaim, tell everyone their true identity and reveal that they were behind the video. Even so, it would take six months to get the platforms to hear their case, and by then the whole story would have faded from the public eye. And if they *did* miraculously get people to pay attention again? Well, the fakers would just get the video taken offline again. It takes an instant for a bot to file a fake copyright claim.

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After the passage of the EU Copyright Directive, Google nukes Google News France

The passage of the EU's Copyright Directive last March marked the most controversial rulemaking process in EU history, with lawmakers squeaking a narrow victory that relied on confused MEPs pushing the wrong button. Read the rest

First detailed look at Poland's challenge to the EU Copyright Directive

After the EU Copyright Directive passed with a slim majority that only carried because some MEPs got confused and pressed the wrong button, the government of Poland filed a legal challenge with the European Court of Justice, arguing that the Directive -- and its rule requiring that all online discourse be filtered by black-box algorithms that will block anything that might be infringing -- violated both Polish and European law. Read the rest

Sony's copyright bots remove a band's own release of its new video

The Sheffield-based experimental music act 65daysofstatic has a new album coming out in September, called "Replicr, 2019." Today, the band began its launch publicity by releasing a video from the album, only to have the video blocked on multiple services by copyright bots working on behalf of Sony, which distributed the band's label, Superball. Read the rest

Podcast: Steering with the Windshield Wipers

In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my May Locus column: Steering with the Windshield Wipers. It makes the argument that much of the dysfunction of tech regulation -- from botched anti-sex-trafficking laws to the EU's plan to impose mass surveillance and censorship to root out copyright infringement -- are the result of trying to jury-rig tools to fix the problems of monopolies, without using anti-monopoly laws, because they have been systematically gutted for 40 years.

A lack of competition rewards bullies, and bullies have insatiable appetites. If your kid is starving because they keep getting beaten up for their lunch money, you can’t solve the problem by giving them more lunch money – the bullies will take that money too. Likewise: in the wildly unequal Borkean inferno we all inhabit, giving artists more copyright will just enrich the companies that control the markets we sell our works into – the media companies, who will demand that we sign over those rights as a condition of their patronage. Of course, these companies will be subsequently menaced and expropriated by the internet distribution companies. And while the media companies are reluctant to share their bounties with us artists, they reliably expect us to share their pain – a bad quarter often means canceled projects, late payments, and lower advances.

And yet, when a lack of competition creates inequities, we do not, by and large, reach for pro-competitive answers. We are the fallen descendants of a lost civilization, destroyed by Robert Bork in the 1970s, and we have forgotten that once we had a mighty tool for correcting our problems in the form of pro-competitive, antitrust enforcement: the power to block mergers, to break up conglomerates, to regulate anticompetitive conduct in the marketplace.

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Competition can fix Big Tech, but only if we don't make "bigness" a legal requirement

I'm all for making Big Tech small again and fixing the internet so that it's not just five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four, not to mention doing something about market dominance, corporate bullying, rampant privacy invasions and so on. Read the rest

Notre Dame's new spire might be copyrighted and blocked by EU filters

There's a proposal in the works to replace Notre Dame's spire -- which was a relatively modern addition -- with a new, starchitect-designed "statement" spire, which will be copyrightable under the same French rules that prohibit commercial photos of the Eiffel Tower at night (and other French landmarks). Read the rest

Ottawa! I'll be at the Writers Festival this Saturday night (then Berlin for Re:publica and Houston for Comicpalooza!)

This Saturday, May 4, at 7:30PM, I'll be presenting at the Ottawa Writers Festival, talking about my novel Radicalized and how it ties into surveillance, monopoly, refugees, climate change, racism and oligarchy -- all the good stuff! Read the rest

Copyright filters are automatically removing copies of the Mueller Report

During the bitter debate over the EU's Copyright Directive, with its mandate for copyright filters that would automatically censor anything that anyone claimed to be infringing, opponents repeatedly warned that these filters would be trivial to abuse. Read the rest

We lost the fight for balance in the EU's Copyright Directive, but here's what we won

The fight over the EU's Copyright Directive was the biggest fight in European political history: more than 100,000 people marched against it in 50 cities; more than 5,000,000 people signed a petition against it, and ultimately the Directive only squeaked into law because (Jesus Fucking Christ I can't believe I'm about to type this) five Swedish MEPs got confused pressed the wrong button (seriously kill me now). Read the rest

As the EU Copyright Directive was approved, Germany admitted it requires copyright filters, putting it on a collision course with the EU-Canada trade deal

The EU Copyright Directive was voted through the Parliament because a handful of MEPs accidentally pushed the wrong button; this week, it passed through the Council -- representing the national governments of the EU -- and as it did, the German government admitted what opponents had said all along: even though the Directive doesn't mention copyright filters for all human expression (photos, videos, text messages, code, Minecraft skins, etc etc), these filters are inevitable. Read the rest

After months of insisting that #Article13 doesn't require filters, top EU Commissioner says "Article 13 requires filters"

The months of debate over Article 13 of the new EU Copyright Directive (passed in a tragicomedy of errors when some MEPs got confused and pushed the wrong buttons), the most contentious issue was whether the rule would require online service providers to spend millions on copyright filters, which are known to be error-prone and the source of mountains of algorithmic censorship, as well as being easily abused by would-be censors who can make false copyright claims with impunity and use them to prevent images, videos, sounds and words from ever appearing on the internet. Read the rest

Article 13 will wreck the internet because Swedish MEPs accidentally pushed the wrong voting button

In the EU, if a Member of the Parliament presses the wrong button on a vote, they can have the record amended to show what their true intention was, but the vote is binding. Read the rest

How #Article13 is like the Inquisition: John Milton Against the EU #CopyrightDirective

Censorship before or censorship after? The EU Copyright Directive rekindles the oldest fight in the history of free speech debates, first waged by John Milton in 1644. Then, like now, policy-makers were considering a radical change in censorship law, a switch from censoring material after it was published to requiring a censor's permission to publish in the first place. Read the rest

More than 100,000 Europeans march against #Article13

Today marksed the largest street protests ever in the history of internet freedom struggles, with more than 100,000 Europeans participating in mass demonstrations across the region -- more than 50 cities participated in Germany alone! From Netpolitik's early summary (English robotranslation): "In Berlin, the demonstration was about half an hour, if you waited along the way from the beginning to the end. We have experienced many network protests in Berlin. That was bigger today than any before, even counting the big data retention protests or ACTA." Read the rest

Robocopyright: Dan Bull's rap anthem for the defeat of #Article13

Just in time for a continent-wide day of street demonstrations against Article 13 and the new Copyright Directive, British rapper Dan Bull (previously) has released a furious, amazing new song about the regulation: Robocopyright. More than a 100 MEPs have pledged to vote against the measure on Monday, and it's not too late for you to contact your MEP and tell them that you expect them to vote to defeat it. Read the rest

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