The Third of May

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

C-11 ~ Criminalizes TPM circumvention without Warning Canadians

Before making it illegal to circumvent TPMs, shouldn’t Canada make it mandatory for manufacturers to warn Canadians that the media and devices we buy use TPMs?

Especially since most Canadians don’t know what TPMs are?

Canadians don’t recognize TPMs.

    • We think we are doing something wrong when we are prevented from copying digital photos we have taken of our own kids, with our own digital camera, to the hard drive on our own computer. We can’t tell if there is something wrong with the camera, the cable, the flash drive or the computer. It would never occur to us that the software has decided we are infringing copyright — especially since we aren’t.  Our ability to copy our own digital content can be prevented accidentally or deliberately with TPMs (Technological Protection Measures).
    • We don’t know the reason we have so much trouble trying to burn our home movies onto a DVD for Granny is because TPMs prevent the software from working properly.  When TPMs (more commonly called “DRM” or “digital locks”) are added to our media and our devices the functionality is often degraded. In other words, to protect the intellectual property from consumer customers, TPMs that may break the thing are often considered an acceptable risk.
    • We don’t know that our legally purchased DVD won’t play in our own DVD player because it is region encoded for a different region, another deliberate TPM.   Consumers accept “region encoding” as a natural limitation of the technology, because we knew it was a physical limitation on VHS and PAL videotape formats.  But the reality is that a DVD would play in any machine except that region encoding TPMs artificially prevent consumers from playing the DVDs we purchase on the device of our choosing.
    • We don’t know that the DVD we legally purchased will not play on the digital device we own if it has a Free Software Operating System (gnu/linux) without first utilizing a player like VLC to circumvent the manufacturer’s TPMs — DRM or “digital locks.”  Bill C-11 will make software like VLC illegal because it can be used to circumvent TPMs.
    • We don’t know that we can’t save the YouTube video letter our grandchild uploaded for us because YouTube’s TPMs prevent this.
    • We don’t know that when we’ve upgraded the hardware on our computer one too many times, the reason that our “improved” computer suddenly became a brick and simply will not work any more is because TPMs prevent it until we buy a new copy of the software. Bill C-11 will make it possible to prevent consumers from installing free software on our own computers.
    • We don’t know that the Nineteen Eighty Four eBook we bought from Amazon disappeared from our Kindle because Amazon was simply exercising a is a deliberate TPM (Technical Protection Measure), more commonly called DRM or “digital locks.”
    • We don’t know that the printer ink cartridge isn’t actually empty, but that the TPM has decided it is.  Sometimes because we have made a certain number of copies, or maybe because there is a TPM which tells the printer that the cartridge can no longer be used after a certain date.  So some printer cartridges can’t be refilled without resetting that date – which constitutes circumventing TPMs.
    • We don’t know our scanner isn’t scanning those photographs because they have been “copy protected” with TPMs.  Even though the photographer has (a) died (b) gone out of business or (c) long ago deleted the content from their drives.   Further, we don’t realize that if we do find a way to scan the only copy of that milestone photograph of our loved one we will be circumventing TPMs, which will be illegal once Bill C-11 passes into law.

Not all TPMs are digital.

Some devices are assembled using specialty screws that can’t be turned with standard screw drivers.  So you must possess the proprietary screwdrivers just to open it up.   With Bill C-11 these screw drivers can be considered TPM circumvention devices, which will become illegal if Bill C-11 passes. Computer recycling depots, AV departments in schools and libraries, and of course repair shops across Canada will have to be very careful not to repair or refurbish any device with TPMs.  It will be safer to throw many goods out rather than risking breaking the law to make repairs.

The Copyright symbol is a TPM.  Overlaying the words “Do Not Copy” or some other kind of watermark on an image is another kind of TPM.  Very often both of these TPMs are used in the commission of copyfraud.   Creative work that was never “protected by copyright” (like the works of Shakespeare) or that have already entered the public domain (like the works of Oscar Wilde) are not subject to copyright.   Anyone can use them, because the monopoly has expired.  But there are a very large number of websites set up to sell copies of public domain art etc that claim copyright to which they have no right.

If copyright infringement is theft from the copyright holder, then copyfraud is theft from the public.  Making copyfraud an offence would actually modernize Canadian copyright law, but as it stands, Bill C-11 will actually protect copyfraud, at the expense of Canadians.

TPMs effectively allow machines authority over human behaviour, and there is no appeal.  How do you convince the hardware or software that it is in error?

No one tells us these things even *have* TPMs.

A great many of the problems we currently experience with our digital media and devices are caused by TPMs/DRM or “digital locks.”

Manufacturers place Technical Protection Measures on our media and devices in order to control our use of these things we own.  They don’t want to draw attention to this; if they did, consumers might choose not to purchase the goods.  As you can see from the examples shown, TPMs are capable of far exceeding “copy protection” and in many cases TPMs are currently employed to artificially impair the media or device to force consumers to upgrade or buy a new one.  Which sounds rather like fraud to me.

What most consumers see is that something is broken.  Some of us will take the digital goods back to the retailer, who will do their job and sell us a new one.  Never mind that adding material that might be repaired but for Bill C-11 — perfectly good digital equipment — to our landfills is hardly in the public good.

Before Bill C-11, if the TPMs manufacturers added broke the goods we purchased, we could repair them.  If the TPMs prevented us from accessing media that we were legally entitled to access, we could circumvent them. Or get someone who knew how to circumvent or repair them for us.  Bill C-11 will make this illegal.

You can’t see most TPMs with the naked eye, so we can’t even tell if it is there because most TPMs are hidden.  Which is why:

Bill C-11 Must Add Warning Labels

Citizens must be told:

  1. that TPMs are present, and
  2. what they do

Citizens can not be reasonably expected to follow the digital lock provisions of Bill C-11 without the inclusion of mandatory warning labels informing/explaining TPMs to consumers on “protected” media, including:

      • movies,
      • music,
      • games,
      • software,
      • eBooks,
      • images,
      • services,
      • etc.

and on “protected” digital devices such as:

      • Computers,
      • DVD players,
      • CD players,
      • game systems,
      • eReaders,
      • cell phones,
      • cameras,
      • digital drives,
      • scanners,
      • etc.

C-11 criminalizes circumvention of TPMs we don’t know are there

If Bill C-11 is passed without also mandating manufacturer warnings that inform consumers of the existence and parameters of the TPMs that we may not legally circumvent simply in trying to make our own digital media and devices work,

Bill C-11 will make all Canadians into inadvertent criminals

There is still a tiny bit of time left to contact our MPs and let them know we don’t want them to pass this Bill C-11 as it is There is still time to say “No”

Smashwords Censorship: Unintended Consequences

Smashwords distributes eBooks created by self publishing authors to the various proprietary eBook platforms.

Recently PayPal has told Smashwords that it must:

“..remove fiction that contains themes of bestiality, rape and incest”

Smashwords Member Alert – March 5, 2012

Is censorship ever advisable?

Ratings systems have long proved an effective method for preventing people from stumbling on material that they would find offensive. I grew up in a small rural community with a very strong religious presence. Still, our local video store had a back room where those so inclined could access material that might otherwise offend. There were also adult magazines nestled on the top shelves at the back of magazine racks in local variety stores. I know that because I clerked in such a store in high school, and I remember my profound shock the first time an Old Order Mennonite man arrived at the store in a horse drawn buggy and proceeded to purchase the latest issue of “Hustler.” But although I am quite sure that the elders of his church would not have been pleased, in a free society, adults must be accorded the right to choose for themselves.

Else we’ll certainly end up in a world very much like the one George Orwell tried to warn us against.

thumbnail ebook cover

Although not classed as erotica, my own debut novel, Inconstant Moon, actually deals pretty prominently with the crime of rape.  If I hadn’t already taken it off Smashwords myself (because I will not deal with PayPal) it could very easily have been one of the titles censored.

TechDirt considers that Paypal is just following orders Paypal Pressured To Play Morality Cop And Forces Smashwords To Censor Authors, while the Electronic Frontier Foundation is planning a legal challenge.

But in an email to Smashwords authors, founder Mark Corker indicates he is negotiating with PayPal, and although

“Many Smashwords authors have suggested we find a different payment processor. That’s not a good long term solution, because if credit card companies are behind this, they’ll eventually force crackdowns elsewhere. PayPal works well for us. In addition to running all credit card processing at the Smashwords.com store, PayPal is how we pay all our authors outside the U.S. My conversations with PayPal are ongoing and have been productive, yet I have no illusion that the road ahead will be simple, or that the outcome will be favorable.”

— Mark Corker,  Smashwords Author/Publisher Update – March 2, 2012

So  readers and writers have been duly warned that Smashwords will cave to PayPal demands rather than switch payment providers should negotiations fail.   That’s a business decision, and Smashwords can legally make it, but make no mistake: PayPal will not be the entity censoring eBooks, that task will fall to Smashwords.

Unintended Consequences

Copyright "c"

Smashwords is an internet company operating in the United States, and as such is subject to the DMCA.

Under the DMCA, You Tube is not liable for copyright infringing material that users upload, because YouTube doesn’t create the videos, it simply distributes them online. So much material is uploaded to YouTube, the cost of YouTube having to police the content of its users would instantly put YouTube out of business. Thus the DMCA allows Internet companies like YouTube an exemption from responsibility for the content they distribute, because these companies can’t reasonably assess such content for legal infractions.

The DMCA defines such a distributor as a “safe haven” so long as it complies with the DMCA.   So YouTube only takes down material when it receives a specific DMCA take down notice.

Smashwords relies on its automated processes to do what it does, and so far, no human has had to go through and vet every submission. But by accepting this PayPal censorship directive, Smashwords would assume responsibility for the content of the books it distributes.

Seems to me, the unintended consequence of a Smashwords decision to censor the books it distributes would remove the “safe haven status” Smashwords enjoys under the DMCA. Which would mean that Smashwords will have no choice but to police every title it distributes, or else be legally liable for any alleged copyright infringements.

Silencing Online Activism: From “Officer Bubbles” to “Free Byron”

maple leaf leaning right

[This is an expanded version of the comment I posted to the CBC’s online article Toronto’s ‘Officer Bubbles’ sues YouTube. Of course, it’s subject to moderation and I have had many comments well within stated CBC guidelines declined. So I decided to post this here as it’s too important an issue to let slip through the cracks.]

The calls for an Inquiry into the G8/G20 debacle aren’t going away, they are getting louder.

What level of ridicule is reasonable?

A great many Canadian citizens (not to mention a great many international Internet users) witnessed Officer Bubbles attempting to intimidate a protester. And although the protester complied— she put down her dangerous bottle of soap bubbles— within moments she was arrested anyway.
[View this video in OGG format: http://russwurm.org/hostess/frombubblestobookings.ogv]

L - R Bubble blowing female protester stands in front of Female officer,  Male camera wielding protester stands directly in front of Officer Adam Josephs
Clearly Officer Bubbles knew he was on camera

There were cameras everywhere.

Officer Bubbles certainly knew he was being recorded when he took his stand. The protester
with a camera stood directly in front of him—
close enough to reach out and touch.

And Officer Bubbles had his 15 minutes of fame.

But now Officer Bubbles wants to protect himself from harassment?

p2pnet
reports: ‘Pay me $1.2M’ Officer Bubbles tells YouTube

A National Post article lauds this lawsuit, believing Officer Bubbles’ attempt to intimidate by lawsuits is a blow for… accountability?

Will the courts allow citizens to be stripped of the right to comment anonymously? If you make an anonymous comment expressing your disagreement with a situation like this, can you be sued? Is an opinion slander? Or since it’s published online libel?

Anonymity can be a powerful tool for good. Whistleblowers can leak information that their consciences dictate ought to be public which often serves the public good.

Must we guard our opinions, and take care not to voice them for fear of litigation?

Using lawsuits to squash the cartoons that ensued is a terrible precedent for the future of free speech and free expression in Canada.   It’s interesting to note that Officer Bubbles is not attempting to take down the video. After all, it really happened.

The fact is he spoke and acted, knowing he was being filmed.   Performing his professional duties as an officer of the law, on a public street, as a matter of public record. Officer Bubbles is a public servant interacting with a member of the public.   In this context, Officer Bubbles should be no more immune from depiction in political cartoons than the Mayor or the Prime Minister?

June 2010 poster: Toronto Resist G8/20
Many citizens protested the G8/G20

I must have dozed off at the part where they made political cartoons illegal in Canada. Is that in Bill C-32?

silencing dissent before it happens

Meanwhile, there is another protester that there is no video for.

This protester was arrested before he even had a chance to protest the G8/G20 — before it even began — apparently on the basis of Twitter remarks which led to a search warrant. The result is that Byron Sonne was arrested, and languishes in jail some four months later, denied bail by a Justice of the Peace.

Malcolm Gladwell may not believe in online activism, but Canadian police services take it seriously.

A Justice of the Peace isn’t a lawyer, or a judge.   This is a political appointment. I have to wonder if a Justice of the Peace, an appointed position not requiring formal legal education, is the right person to be making decisions about who is or is not entitled to bail?   It’s bad enough that in criminal offenses, the decision as to whether a defendant can walk free between accusation and trial may fall victim to a JP’s personal bias.
But to have political appointees ruling on the liberty of those accused of political offenses during peaceful protests is simply ludicrous.   A Justice of the Peace appointed by the government of the day can hardly be expected to be impartial, especially in cases of political dissent.

Many laws have built in latitude enabling them to cover a range of infractions. There is certainly latitude in every one of the charges brought against Byron Sonne, allowing the exercise of a great deal of discretion.
This certainly becomes an issue in a world where a soap bubble is adjudged a weapon by the forces of Canadian law enforcement.

There can be no democracy without dissent.

Peaceful protest is legal in Canada … isn’t it?
Or has dissent become a criminal offense?

Free Byron

ACTA is…

I have written a lot about ACTA mostly in my other blogs. But this little film distills it’s into an easily digestible morsel which beautifully explains what the fuss is all about.

It’s important to spread the word.

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo

ACTA Stop the Kraken

For free software users I’ve loaded the highest quality
ogv version I could get here

along with a smaller version here.

And this is the transcript of the text from the film.

Or you can watch it on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlFyoEKV0dE

[Thanks Wayne & ppi!]



OGG transfers via TinyOGG
Released under a Creative Commons
Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License (CC by-nc-sa)
Credits:
Video & Audio: Anonymous
Music by Wasaru – New Andromeda Theory



Free Culture, Copyright and Open Video

StopUBB logoUsually I deal with highly politicized computer issues in my StopUBB blog, which has evolved from only fighting against Canadian implementation of Usage Based Billing but has spread out to fight against insidious secret copyright treaties like A.C.T.A. while trying to educate ordinary people about the related issues of Net Neutrality and Internet Freedom.

Those who are attempting to subvert the Internet so they can control and leash it have long been using copyright as an excuse to do these things. I have been learning a lot about computer issues through StopUBB research. But there are many people who have been grappling with the future of the Internet long before I had a clue that there were even issues.

One of these people is Lawrence Lessig a big proponent of “Free Culture” and reduced copyright. Not only was Lessig one of the a founder of Creative Commons licensing movement, he was also involved in the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Harvard‘s Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Lawrence Lessig delivering a lecture

Copyright symbol with maple leaf

in the wind is my personal blog. Since I’m a writer a big part of my life is writing, so when I write about any aspect of writing it goes here. So even though copyright plays an important part in StopUBB issues, this is where I write about it from a reader and writer’s point of view.

twitter logo

Yesterday I learned from Twitter that there was going to be a LIVE! Wireside Chat with Lawrence Lessig at Harvard Law School I played hooky from writing Inconstant Moon to tune in, although I only caught the last part of his lecture, the main thrust was that the bad guys can look after themselves, its time that the good guys (that’s you and me, pal) stepped up to the plate to stop corruption and make government start working for the people again.

After the lecture there was a question and answer session with questions provided in a live Twitter feed which dealt with culture, copyright and ReMix.

These are some of the Lessig quotes tweeted by audience
which in itself made the lecture into a remix:
shapah “we need a culture that makes it as easy to hack hardware as it does content” #wireside #lessig

PPirataMx Necesitamos una cultura que permita “hackear” dispositivos de la misma forma que se “hackea” el contenido. #lessig #wireside

EveBottando “There’s something tone deaf about Apple. Their sharing site is Me.com..whatdyamean Me.com – it should be We.com.” #wireside

shapah Brazil again! points of light – “they teach kids to tear machines down and rebuild them” #wireside

ericschnell RT @sameerverma: “Stallman was right to call it free software” – lessig #wireside

ezufelt #wireside chat w/ @lessig was good, disappointing that it was not captioned and that videos were not described. #accessibility

shapah non-commercial CC licensing is an experiment to enable this new way of thinking #wireside #lessig

shapah “free culture is the right way to think about – setting the right boundaries, setting the widest spread” #wireside

EveBottando “Britney Spears model – produce and control culture…another culture that doesn’t limit…depends on building and sharing freely” #wireside

blogdiva RT @dsearls: @Lessig: “The government has produced the least efficient property system known to man.” At #wireside

shapah “how long do copyright terms need to be?” 21 years? #lessig would settle for 50 as long as it couldn’t be extended #wireside

moon Larry #Lessig “never should you be allowed to extend an existing copyright” #wireside

After the Q&A concluded, I learned a bit about the The Open Video Alliance, the group who put on this lecture. Of course, my learning curve in all this is enormous; today is the first time that I had even heard of them. Open Video held a contest for 60 second films to explain and illustrate the idea of open video to raise awareness of the importance of this cultural art form. They screened the winning videos, but this one was my favorite.

Teacher Raffaella Traniello holds up some movie making tools
Raffaella Traniello is an excellent teacher.   With simplicity and breathtaking clarity her video makes the point:

EVERYTHING IS A REMIX

 

You can find the other open video submissions available for download at http://contest.openvideoalliance.org/?l=en

Visit the site and check out the films online. You are free to download them in a variety of formats from OGG to MPEG4.   Raffaella’s film is in Italian but there are English subtitles available– the words are important– for mono-lingual anglophones like myself.

I could not figure out how to embed the Raffaella’s Traniello video here, so I took a peek at YouTube to see if it was there. I didn’t find it, instead I found this interview. Although I don’t speak a word of Italian, I loved the opportunity to see some of the films this amazing teacher has made with her students. You go girl.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cc2WX06Ovzc

It seems that videos posted on YouTube can be easily embedded here in my WordPress blog, but videos found in other places, like The Open Video Alliance and the Canada’s NFB (National Film Board of Canada) can not be posted here, even though it would not violate any copyright laws to do so.

As if by magic my friend Malcolm sent me a link to this amazing live interactive ReMix:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYAUazLI9k&annotation_id=annotation_72265&feature=iv

I am curious now as to whether license fees were paid to use the music in this performance art.

I think it was Lawrence Lessig who suggested that copyright law needs to be straightforward enough that children can use any cultural material they are exposed to in any way with impunity.

Unfortunately what is happening today is the heavy handed application if new IP laws that serve to frighten many educators and schools away from using these technologies to help educate our children. After all, this is a world of D.M.C.A. takedowns and A.C.T.A.

And that’s not right.