Laurel L. Russwurm

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Posts Tagged ‘Cory Doctorow

The Third of May

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Laurel holds a "Free to Blog" sign with the hashtags #WPFD and #PressFreedomUnesco‘s “World Press Freedom Day 2013” is promoting the idea that people need to be able to use social media for freedom of expression, whether it’s on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Vkontakte, Tencent, Identi.ca, or blogs.  Many people don’t know that they should be free and safe to blog, to upload pictures, to watch online video., or that the freedom to receive & impart information & ideas through any media is promised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As the western free press buckles under the control and demands of powerful special interests, the Internet has made citizen journalism possible just when we need it most. Unfortunately, sometimes people engaging in social media are targeted by repressive regimes.

In Canada, Byron Sonne’s Charter rights were violated by police, and charges were laid against him for posting photographs on Flickr and tweeting concerns about the billion dollar “security theatre” being staged in Toronto for the Toronto G20.  He was punitively denied bail for almost a year, and when finally granted bail it was under onerous conditions, so he was effectively a political prisoner for nearly two years.

In Syria, Internet activist Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for over a year, without trial or any legal charges being brought against him.

Since March 15, 2012, our colleague and friend Bassel Khartabil has been in prison in Syria, held without charges and not allowed legal representation. Bassel is an open-source coder and leader of the Syrian Creative Commons program. He believes in the open Internet, and has spent the last ten years using open technologies to improve the lives of Syrians. Not only did Bassel build the CC program in his country; he worked tirelessly to build knowledge of digital literacy, educating people about online media and open-source tools.”

Catherine Casserly

Bassel needs to be #FreeToBlog again... Syrian Free Culture advocate has been held for more than a year without charges.

Syrian Free Culture advocate Bassel needs to be free to blog, not imprisoned without charges.

Around the world, we’re seeing increased restrictions on free speech as the breadth of copyright laws have been expanded to allow censorship, and we face an unending barrage of laws like SOPA and CISPA that allow government and corporate incusrions into our personal privacy, and trade agreements like ACTA and CETA.

Unesco is promoting the free exchange of ideas & knowledge that is possible with social media, and wants everyone to have a voice and be able to speak freely and in safety, no matter where they are in the world.

There is a growing awareness that ensuring freedom of expression must also necessarily extend to safety online. World Press Freedom Day 2013 focuses on the theme “Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media” and puts the spotlight, in particular, on the issues of safety of journalists, combating impunity for crimes against freedom of expression, and securing a free and open Internet as the precondition for online safety.”

Safe to Speak: Securing Freedom of Expression in All Media

Which dovetails nicely with the fact today is also the International Day Against DRM.  If DRM becomes a built in part of the HTML5, any hope of a free and open Internet will be lost.

Banner that can be used on facebook

DRM restricts the public’s freedom, even beyond what overzealous copyright law requires, to the perceived benefit of this privileged, powerful few.”

Letter to the W3C

DRM is “Digital Rights Management” or “Digital Restrictions Management” ~ either way it is “Technological Protection Measures” employed in the proprietary software and hardware we purchase.  DRM controls how we can use our digital media and devices.

This year the W3C is in the process of hammering out the new standard for HTML5, the language that the Internet is written in.  Some of the biggest, most powerful Internet corporations are trying to pressure the W3C to write DRM into the specifications. Adding DRM to HTML would cause a host of problems for freedom and interoperability on the Web, and we need to build the grassroots movement against it. Nobody except these big corporations want this change to the core of the Web, but most of the Web users that it would affect don’t know about the issue yet.”

Defective By Design: We Oppose DRM

Any DVD player would be able to play any DVD in the world but for region encoding, one example of DRM.  If you move to a different region, don’t plan on bringing along your DVD collection, because it won’t play there.  DRM is often employed to “protect” digital copies that are under copyright.

Corporations like DRM because it can be used to tie us in to their proprietary products — we need to buy this type of game machine to continue to use the games we’ve already purchased — or buy ink cartridges even though the ones in the printer aren’t actually empty but because the DRM says the ink is past it’s best-before date — or purchase the same music over and over again as digital media wears out or the device is declared obsolete.

A specification designed to help companies run secret code on users’ computers to restrict what they do on the Web would severely undermine that trust. “

Letter to the W3C

Nothing is stopping these big companies from deploying DRM on their websites now, with the exception of consumer choice.  But if DRM is written into the HTML5 Specifications, DRM will become the default, and consumers will lose the few choices we have now.  It will become harder to free our devices and ourselves from the shackles of DRM.  And I rather expect it will have the unfortunate side effect of breaking the Internet.

No DRM for the Internet

You’re welcome to use my Day Against DRM Facebook Cover, my Day Against DRM Twitter Banner or the square “Don’t DRM the Internet” avatar.


Image Credits
Bassel Khartabil by Kristina Alexanderson released under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License

Map of the Internet – photo by the Opte Project released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 1.0) License

Both social media banners, Day Against DRM Facebook cover and Day Against DRM Twitter Banner incorporate the Opte Project Internet Map, tand so are released under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) License

Legal Today, Not Tomorrow? ~ Bill C-11

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Canadian DMCA logo

Bill C-11, Canada’s so-called “Copyright Modernization Act” has passed second reading in the House of Commons and is now before the parliamentary committee.

Since I am preparing my debut novel for eBook release, I’m trying not to pay attention, yet I find myself reading Russell McOrmond’s Bill C-11 Legisative Committee coverage.  Russell is both Live tweeting and blogging about each meeting day.   This legislation is simply too important to ignore, not just for me, as a self publishing writer, but for Canada, and the heritage and culture that is so much a part of who we are.

I can’t actually watch the proceedings myself, even though they are being broadcast online by CPAC.  Beginning with cable TV coverage, CPAC has provided Canadians with a ringside seat to Canadian parliamentary proceedure since 1992.   The problem is that this video is provided onsite in Windows Media Player format.

Problem: In order to watch video in the proprietary Windows Media Player, you need to have Windows, and I don’t.

It seems I can’t watch the livestream of the actual parliamentary committee meetings because I have chosen to use free software. I don’t use Windows anymore, nor do I use any of the various Apple computers. My operating system on *this* computer is Ubuntu, and the one on my desktop computer is Trisquel.

But of course, that’s the point.  Proprietary digital devices and content try to force the user to use the software or device specified by the manufacturer. Once you buy into any proprietary system, it is difficult to switch to another.  In this case it’s Microsoft, although it could as easily be Apple, or Sony, or any one of a plethora of rich and powerful companies that make proprietary software and hardware.

And why not? Microsoft built the Windows Media Player, and they want people to use it in their operating system.

In the past, circumventing proprietary formats might have resulted in a voided warranty. But it seems to me that Bill C-11 will make it illegal.

I expect CPAC paid rather a lot to be able to license the Windows media player.  But since Windows is still the dominant OS, it seems like a reasonable choice to reach the most people.  And CPAC wants all Canadians to have access to the video they create. That’s what they do.

And CPAC understands, because it attempts to circumvent the problem by  advising  us to copy the link below the video into our own video player if we are having problems.

I tried that, but it didn’t work on either the Ubuntu Movie Player or Banshee Media Player.   Even so, I wasn’t positive it was a proprietary issue the problem was until a friend tried to resolve it.

Apparently Flip4Mac WMV program converted the proprietary Windows video format to a proprietary Mac video format.

The other solution that CPAC offers is to use a program called VLC. Ironically I used that free software video player back when I still used Windows, but haven’t managed to get it to work in either of my gnu/linux machines.

The long and the short of it is that, because I am not able to run the proprietary Windows Media Player, I am effectively locked out of the digital government video CPAC routinely shares with Canadians.

An Illustration of Bill C-11

In a strange way this demonstrates why legal protection of TPMs — regardless of legality — is the central point of Bill C-11 that has Canadians concerned. As written, Bill C-11 would criminalize Canadians who circumvent TPMs (technical protection measures) even if we are legally entitled to access the content that is locked by these “digital locks”.

Although I’m neither a technical person or a lawyer, I think Bill C-11 would make software like the VLC player illegal in Canada because it circumvents proprietary TPMs.

And Bill C-11 will make both tools to circumvent and the act of circumvention of TPMs illegal.

It wouldn’t matter that CPAC wants to share their content with me, Microsoft would have to grant permission to convert proprietary formats into free formats, or else it would be illegal. Microsoft’s current policies indicate any such permission would be unlikely, but even if it did, the tools to circumvent the proprietary TPMs – like VLC – would be illegal, so I wouldn’t be able to do it anyway.

Lawyers like Michael Geist and Howard Knopf and tech folks like Russell McOrmond, Wayne Borean, Bob Jonkman and Cory Doctorow have said Bill C-11 would not be such a problem if TPM circumvention was only illegal if tied to copyright infringement.

the shape of things to come

But if they pass Bill C-11 as written, it will become illegal for Canadians to circumvent TPMs so we can watch our government in action. Or to back up our software, Or format shift so we can watch DVDs on MP3 players.

Depending on what TPMs manufacturers employ, it may become illegal to read public domain eBooks on our e-readers, or play DVDs that aren’t region encoded.  Which would mean that independent film makers wouldn’t be able to put their original movies on DVDs.  Independent musicians might be prevented from distributing their original work digitally.  The range of consequences are appalling.

How long until it becomes illegal to load free software on our computers?

If Bill C-11 passes, not long at all.


[Edited for readability (replacing a bit of awkward phrasing) but content remains the same.]

Image credits
Screencap cc-by 1111aether

Against DRM cc-by Nina Paley

Bill C-11 ~ this week’s Links #copyright

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Canadian DMCA logoCopyright law is in the air in Canada these days, as our government contemplates passing Bill C-11 (the draft law formerly known as Bill C-32)

If you’re wondering why there is such a fuss about copyright, and why it should matter to ordinary Canadians, this is a great place to start on the issue. The highlight of this week’s C-11 coverage was, hands down, Jesse Brown’s interview with Michael Geist.

The draft C-11 Legislation has been “read” in the House Of Commons, and has now been sent to a Legislative Committee of MPs who will now attempt to clear up any problems. Canadians can now email our concerns to the appropriate MPs.

One citizen shared the reply he received from his MP boing boing

Russell McOrmond posted an interesting article contrasting the Conservative policy on gun registration with their push for digital locks

I’ve added two new blogs to my blogroll on the basis of their recent posts regarding C11.

The Copyright Modernization Act (C-11), Digital Locks and turning ISPs into Gatekeepers One Step at a Time

and
Canada’s copyright reform bill: Desperately seeking economists (and evidence)

Michael Geist is writing “The Daily Digital Lock Dissenter” series in which he shares the stated objections of many varied opponents of the digital lock provisions of Bill C-11:


More Information

If you are looking for more information about this copyright law, you can use the search bar in my sidebar, search the Internet. The draft legislation currently known as Bill C-11 is a word for word reincarnation of what was called Bill C-32 in the last session of parliament, so searching for Bill C-32 will give you a lot of background information and analysis.

The authorities I look to for C-11 information include:

What to do about Bill C-11 ?

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Canadian DMCA logoI should be getting ready for NaNoWriMo. The problem is that the danger to Canadian culture posed by Bill C-11, the so called “Copyright Modernization Act,” currently moving toward becoming law, is simply too great to ignore.

I can’t ignore this and expect to get anywhere with my next novel. So I’ve decided to try to post something about C-11 every day (after making my NaNoWriMo word count :) Because both my self publishing efforts and writing my third novel during NaNo will claim most of my time, these posts will be much shorter than my usual blog posts.

The Canadian DMCA in Today’s News

boingboing logo

Cory Doctorow blogged about the response received by a Canadian citizen in answer to their C11 query from Conservative MP Lee Richardson, a member of the Standing Committee on Industry. Since copyright law falls under the joint purview of the Ministry of Heritage and the Ministry of Industry, Lee Richardson ought to be pretty well versed in this issue. Richardson is quoted as writing:

If a digital lock is broken for personal use, it is not realistic that the creator would choose to file a law suit against the consumer, due to legal fees and time involved.”

— Conservative MP Lee Richardson
BoingBoing: Canadian Tory MP: Don’t worry about violating our stupid new copyright law, because we probably won’t catch you if you do

Cory Doctorow’s assessment is that this amounts to advice from the Government passing this law is:

“…you should go ahead and break the law because you won’t get caught.”

— Cory Doctorow
BoingBoing: Canadian Tory MP: Don’t worry about violating our stupid new copyright law, because we probably won’t catch you if you do

Now, I am not a lawyer, but if this is not the law’s intent, the law should say so. Just because the copyright holder might choose not to do this, is no guarantee that they won’t.

Bill C-11 clearly allows them to sue Canadians.

Particularly when there have been innumerable clear instances of corporate “patent trolls” suing unsuspecting citizens in the wake of the American DMCA and every similar copyright ‘reform’ enacted around the world.

If this is *not* the government’s intent, this part of Bill C11 must be changed.

The Canadian Government should not be encouraging citizens to ignore Canadian law.

what we can do

I believe there are various petitions being gotten up, but I urge all concerned Canadians to tell the government that we do not support the digital lock provisions in Bill C-11. Sending an email is a stronger message than signing a digital petition. The message you send doesn’t have to be long and involved. Just weigh in and tell them what you think before this law is passed.

Write to Members of the Legislative Committee on Bill C-11:

[28 October UPDATE 2011-10-28T15:48:49+00:00]

Bill C-11 Legislative Committee Chair: Glenn Thibeaultof the NDP has been named as the Bill C-11 Legislative Committee Chair
email: glenn.thibeault@parl.gc.ca

Dean Del Mastro, Conservative, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
email: dean.delmastro@parl.gc.ca
Paul Calandra, Conservative Parliamentary Secretary to the Heritage Minister
email: paul.calandra@parl.gc.ca
Mike Lake, Conservative Parliamentary secretary to the Industry Minister
email: mike.lake@parl.gc.ca
Scott Armstrong, Conservative
email: scott.armstrong@parl.gc.ca
Peter Braid, Conservative
email: peter.braid@parl.gc.ca
Phil McColeman, Conservative
email: phil.mccoleman@parl.gc.ca
Rob Moore, Conservative
email: rob.moore@parl.gc.ca
Charlie Angus, NDP Digital Affairs and Ethics Critic
email: charlie.angus@parl.gc.ca
Tyrone Benskin, NDP Heritage and Cultural Industries Critic
email: tyrone.benskin@parl.gc.ca
Andrew Cash, NDP
email: andrew.cash@parl.gc.ca
Pierre Nantel, NDP
email: pierre.nantel@parl.gc.ca
Geoff Regan, Liberal Critic for Consumer Affairs
email: geoff.regan@parl.gc.ca
As well, you can write to Heritage Minister James Moore
email: james.moore@parl.gc.ca
Industry Minister The Honourable Christian Paradis
email: minister.industry@ic.gc.ca
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
email: stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca
and as always, your own MPP [Find your MP]

It is perfectly acceptable to send the same letter to all concerned, and although postal mail is taken more seriously, email is increasingly acceptable, particularly when time is of the essence.

If you have a blog (and if you don’t, it’s pretty easy to start one for free at WordPress) you can post your letter online, making sure to tag it with #C11 and #Canada and #Copyright. Talk to friends and family about this, as well as people in your social networks,because if this law passes as is, it will have serious repercussions to Canadian culture.


More Information

If you are looking for more information about this copyright law, you can use the search bar in my sidebar, or you can search the Internet. Bill C-11 is a word for word reincarnation of Bill C-32 in the last session of parliament, so searching for Bill C-32 will give you a lot of information and analysis.

The authorities I look to for C-11 information include:

2010 IP3 Awards

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When I began this blog a little over a year ago I had no idea about what was happening in the world of Intellectual Property Law. But I’ve been learning. Some of the amazing people and organizations I’ve come across who are spending a great deal of time working to fight against changes that will be detrimental to us all are linked in my sidebar.

One such organization is the Washington based public interest group Public Knowledge, who work hard to defend citizens’ rights in the emerging digital culture. Public Knowledge emailed subscribers asking for suggestions for nominations for their 2010 IP3 awards:

Let us know who you think should be honored for their good work in any or all of the “three IPs”: Intellectual Property, Information Policy, and Internet Protocol. The IP3 awards are our way of paying tribute to the thought leaders who inspired us and our supporters during the past year.”

Of course, being me, even though I am seriously new to all of this, I simply could not resist throwing in my two cents worth. Like this:

The speech balloon I added to Sita says "No DRM for Me" - Sita created by Nina Paley.

Nina Paley's endearing Sita

My Nominations

Nina Paley

I’m willing to bet that Nina Paley‘s decision to fight for “copyleft” by releasing her wonderful animated feature film Sita Sings The Blues under a creative commons license has done more to raise the specter of true independent film making than anything else could have.

Add to that her vocal advocacy for expanded fair dealing and copyright reform, topped by her recent decision to turn down what would certainly have been a lucrative Netflix distribution because they refused to distribute Sita free of DRM.

I believe Nina Paley’s efforts are instrumental in demonstrating the value of legal file sharing which can help to preserve an open Internet.

Cory Doctorow

Doctorow medium shot in front of blackboard

Cory Doctorow

As a writer returning to writing after a long childrearing hiatus, I’ve been doing a lot of learning about copyright, and Cory Doctorow has become one of my personal heroes. His ability to clearly explain and inform about the history of Intellectual Property, as well as his radical new ideas about IP reform have helped educate me on these issues. Cory Doctorow makes good use of his popular boingboing website to raise public awareness about IP3 issues, as well as his place in the UK’s The Guardian.

Even more brilliantly, Cory Doctorow’s book “Little Brother” brings these issues to life in a fictional world, which more than anything else helps to shine a light on the possible abuses we will face if we don’t pursue “the copyfight”.

More than anyone except my family, Cory Doctorow is responsible for the many long hours I have invested in both IP3 self education and advocacy through my blogs and any other appropriate forum I can find, either on or offline.

Michael Geist

A year ago I was learning to make web pages and just starting my first blog. As I learned about the Internet and what you define as the IP3, Professor Michael Geist very quickly became a key source of accurate and informed online information.

Michael Geist’s various websites have both directed me to other excellent IP3 excellent resources, like Public Knowledge, as well as providing me with a strong enough grounding in the IP3 fields to help me to advocate for intelligent copyright reform and against dangerous public policies like ACTA in my own blogs.

Geist speaking on Fair Copyright at the University of 2008

Public Knowledge instituted the IP3 Awards to say “thank you” to those who:

“have advanced the public interest in one of the three areas of “IP” –Intellectual Property, Information Policy and Internet Protocol.”

Public Knowledge Presents Seventh IP3 Awards to Samuelson, Crawford, Geist and Paley

So, two picks outta three ain’t bad for a novice.

And of course, I can still keep my fingers crossed that Cory Doctorow will be the super secret recipient of the “President’s Choice Award” that will be announced at the IP3 awards ceremony in Washington, on October 13th, 2010.

I haven’t heard of the other two recipients, Pamela Samuelson and Susan Crawford, but then I am, after all, very new to all of this. They certainly sound as though they’ve more than paid their dues in the legal and political IP trenches from the PK article.

Congratulations to all on being chosen, and a very special thank you to Public Knowledge for the important work they do.



Image Credits:

  • Sita Sings the Blues – Nina Paley’s Sita, remix by laurelrusswurm
  • Cory Doctorow, University of Waterloo – Independent Studies – Scholar in Virtual Residence – photo by laurelrusswurm
  • Michael Geist, University of Calgary, 2008 – photo by D’Arcy Norman

creators fight back

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Creative Commons logo

Just thought you might like to know that I’m not the only weird creator who thinks the idea of copyright needs some help here. So I thought I’d share a few important links:

In Locus Magazine Cory Doctorow explains Why I Copyfight [Cory Doctorow licenses his books under Creative Commons.]

A blog called Techrisk (The vulnerable information society) Mathias Klang has published a list of books released under Creative Commons licensing cc books.

My brother Larry Russwurm’s blog post this week uses/reviews a creative commons licensed cartoon making software in Playing With Bitstrips.

From May 16th, 2000 Salon.com has an unedited transcript of Courtney Love’s speech to the Digital Hollywood online entertainment conference about the record industry Courtney Love does the math

And on her own website, you can read terrifically talented singer/songwriter Janis Ian‘s stunning article the THE INTERNET DEBACLE – AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW

Sita stands in Copyright jail

But the best is from Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues Webpage. because Nina Paley’s explanation of why she had to use the music she did drives home precisely how the changes made to copyright law over the past decades actually impede the creation of art. Because most of us aren’t as brave as Nina Paley.

Most of us make the changes required by copyright law.

Real or imagined or feared, because we don’t have the time or energy or money to fight lawsuits or pay extortionate amounts of money to use the creative works of artists that should have been in the public domain. We just want to make art.

And that is bad for art, bad for culture. For all of us.



acknowledgments:
Thanks to Adrian du Plessis for directing me to Janis Ian
Thanks to Jonathan Fritz for directing me to the Courtney Love piece

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