Laurel L. Russwurm

a writer, the copyfight and internet freedom

Posts Tagged ‘Public Knowledge

no cyber-censorship, please

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Today on Identi.ca I said:

When I was young, freedom wasn’t such a big issue.
Life experience has shown me how really important freedom is.

That is so true. Freedom is important to me on many levels: as a citizen, as a parent, and as a writer.
But the Internet is ultimately a series of tools:   hardware and software strung together. The problem is,
of course, that tools can generally be used for good or ill. Which is why we must all strive to ensure it stays free. That means all of us, not just programmers but all of the users.

World day against cyber-censorship

Reporters without Borders are very concerned with freedom. Naturally. It’s hard to do a good job of reporting without freedom, which is why Reporters without Borders is holding the 3rd annual:

World day against cyber-censorship

Visit the Reporters without Borders World day against cyber-censorship webpage.   The site has been mirrored to allow netizens in blacked out countries to access this information at http://12march2011.org/en/

The site has goodies such as a map showing global geographic boundaries incidence of cyber censorship and the pièce de résistance the 2011 The Enemies of the Internet list.

I have to admit I was more than a little surprised to find the United States absent after all their efforts to take out WikiLeaks. The fact that the United States is not on the list is most likely due to the strong freedom advocacy offered by freedom fighting organizations like the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Public Knowledge (PK), and KEI (Knowledge Ecology International).

Twitter tightens its grip

Ironically, today readwriteweb brings word about Twitter’s decision to cut out 3rd party developers. Existing apps will be allowed to continue… on probabation. Last week my favorite writing live chat on Twitter didn’t work because none of the various third party apps people use to make live chat work could log in. Some of the regular participants gave it up because Twitter does not lend itself to live chat. In the light of this new announcement, the chat problem probably resulted from changes made to the Twitter api to discourage 3rd party apps.

My personal recommendation is that no step is to small to be the first step into freedom.

If you use Twitter, set up an account on Identi.ca.

Setting up on Identi.ca is very much like setting up on Twitter, and you can link Identica to Twitter to stay in contact easily enough. Identi.ca will automatically send your notices and local “@” replies to Twitter, as well as subscribe to your Twitter friends on Identica. [Hint: it is best if you can use the same @name on both services.]

At least for now.

Twitter can pull the plug on that at any time. That is one of the biggest problems with proprietary web platforms… some one else owns it, controlling your access, as well as having access to all of your information. Proprietors like Facebook (or Darth Vader) retain total control, and can alter the rules in a flash.

identi.ca logo

identi.ca logo

Unlike Twitter, Identica is a service that makes up the central part of a growing federated network of microbloggers using the open source Statusnet software. Because the number of individual hostings of StatusNet is growing all the time, Identica far freer than Twitter in much the same way that a federated network of mirrors allowed WikiLeaks to survive the onslaught. You can set up your own, or connect to Identi.ca on their site or download the free version to use on your own. I strongly recommend that anyone concerned with net freedom should set up their microblog home on Identica.

personal security

For some excellent ideas on how to protect yourself, I recommend reading Identi.ca netizen @jimmorgan’s blog about his foray into security: Tor, XMPP, GPG, Internet security

copyright

Copyright is another incredibly important issue, particularly as the copyright maximalists are pushing for laws that allow copyright to be used as a tool of censorship. For some insight in why this is a problem in the here and now, I highly recommend watching the important film RiP: A Remix Manifesto I have much more to say about copyright, but the main thing is that it is an issue that we need to rethink. Allowing corporations to impose laws about how we access our own culture is both disturbing and detrimental to the common good.

freedom

I have been compiling lists of free culture and Creative Commons options available in the sidebar as I come to them. If you find any such links that you’d like to share, please forward them to me. Allowing corporations to control our freedom may in fact be worse than allowing governments to do so. Big Brother may in fact be wearing mouse ears. We must stand up for our rights, and encourage others to do the same.

We all must do whatever we can to fight for our online rights.

[and now back to editing/proofing my novel]

2010 IP3 Awards

with one comment

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

Canadian Copyright is a Canadian Affair

with 6 comments

Copyright symbol with maple leafIt seems that the pressure by the American copyright lobby to dictate Canadian Copyright law is again mounting.   Of course I’ve been trying to work on my novel and so didn’t realize this was happening.

My first inkling was a Michael Geist tweet:

michaelgeist EFF & PK warn against using USTR Special 301 process to sanction countries for not implementing ACTA http://bit.ly/cBtQvV

Nutshell: The United States Trade Representative (USTR) creates a “watch list” of countries who fail to provide “adequate and effective” protection of intellectual property rights or denial of “fair and equitable market access to U.S. persons who rely on intellectual property protection.”

The idea is that if you don’t play nice with American IP, all the other countries hear about it.

Apparently the very powerful American Copyright Lobby has a history of applying pressure to the USTR to include countries based on allegations rather than any proof, in an attempt to coerce countries like Canada to make or laws beneficial to these American corporations.

Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a joint comment to the USTR Consultation outlining many instances of the misapplication of these sanctions.

The American Trade Act defines “adequate and effective protection” as the refusal of the country to provide means under its laws for foreign nationals to exercise and enforce their IP rights.

It considers a country to have denied market access if its laws or regulations violate provisions of international agreements to which both the U.S. and that foreign country are parties or if the law or regulation constitutes a discriminatory non-tariff barrier.   Thus, a country should be considered to provide adequate and effective IP protection and fair and equitable market access for these purposes if it complies with its existing international obligations and provides foreign rights-holders with a means under its domestic law to enforce their rights or seek access to its markets.

Failure to sign international agreements does not per se mean the country has failed to provide adequate and effective protection for U.S. rights-holders’ intellectual property.   This is also consistent with the principle of national sovereignty, a foundational principle of the modern world order, which recognizes a country’s freedom to choose international instruments to which it will be bound.”

— COMMENTS of PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE and the
ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION
in the Matter of 2010 Special 301 Review:
Identification of Countries Under Section 182 of The Trade Act of 1974
http://bit.ly/cBtQvV

Reading through the PK and EFF comments all I can say is that I for one am very glad that they are out there working to protect the internet for all.

Michael Geist has often said that Canada already has very tough Intellectual Property law, and IP lawyer Howard Knopf tells us exactly why in his Excess Copyright blog post The “Annual 310 Show” – USTR Calls for Comment – 21 Reasons why Canadian Copyright Law is Already Stronger than U.S.A.’s

I made use of PK’s handy online form to submit my comments as a private Canadian citizen, and although it was a tad past the deadline, it was accepted. I thought it particularly important since our own Canadian Government elected not to make a submission.

I realize that our legislature is currently prorogued, but that isn’t slowing down Canadian participation in the ultra-secret A.C.T.A. trade negotiation. In fact, if Canada is singled out here by the USTR it would simply provide more leverage to coerce Canada into signing the A.C.T.A. agreement, no matter how dreadful.

RE: 2010 Special 301 Review
Docket Number USTR-2010-0003

Jennifer Choe Groves
Senior Director for Intellectual Property and
Innovation and Chair of the Special 301 Committee
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20508
Filed electronically via Regulations.gov

Dear Ms. Groves:

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) must not allow rights holders to use this proceeding to force sovereign nations to impose overzealous restrictions on their citizens and interfere with our civil liberties or diminish our global standing.

Whatever happened to the American spirit of liberty, and vaunted dedication to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

The USTR must recognize the importance of balanced intellectual property law to innovation and free expression. The provision for innovation and free expression is necessary for culture to exist.

The USTR must demand rights holders support claims of infringement and loss with verifiable data following standards of proof and the rule of law.

Unsubstantiated accusations can be made in error, or just as easily made spuriously by entities who are not even the rights holders as a means of suppressing free speech.

The United States will lose global credibility by continuing ton this slippery slope.

The United States does not have the right to dictate Canada’s specific structure of domestic laws. Your rights holders’ demands for increasing criminal penalties, prison terms, fines, and liability have no place here as we have the sovereign right to determine our own limitations and exceptions to copyright.

Canadian Copyright law is robust, in many ways stronger than your own as explained in esteemed Canadian Intellectual Property lawyer Howard Knopf’s blog: http://excesscopyright.blogspot.com/2010/02/annual-301-parade-ustr-calls-for.html

As a Canadian Citizen and a writer I hope the USTR follows the law not the lobbyists.

Regards,
Laurel L. Russwurm

canadian flag

a sovereign nation

American Flag

follow the laws not the lobbyists

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