Bright, and Clear: The Future of Free Speech
A rallying cry on the occassion of the Web’s first mass blackout
As we watch the web go dark today in protest against the SOPA/PIPA censorship bills, let’s take a moment and reflect on why this fight is so important. We may have learned that free speech is what makes America great, or instinctively resist attempts at silencing our voices. But these are abstract principles, divorced from the real world and our daily lives.
Free speech is the foundation of a free society. We can have the vote all we want. We can donate money wherever we want. But unless we’re able to talk to each other and figure out collectively what
we want, those things don’t matter.
We believe a healthy society doesn’t allow its artists, musicians and other creators to starve. The copyright industry has been justly criticized for abusing the political process in a desperate attempt to maintain its role as a cultural gatekeeper, a business model made obsolete by a digital age of free copies. But the RIAA, MPAA & IFPI deserve our opprobrium for making enormous profits while often leaving the very artists it claims to represent poorer
than they would be as independents (http://www.negativland.com/albini.html
). While the public may have greater access to the few artists deemed sufficiently marketable to gain mass media promotion, fewer and fewer of us are making art and music in our own lives.
It’s time we make a stand for a better world - not merely take rearguard actions to preserve a status quo that is already
failing us. Accordingly, we present the following list of demands:
* We call on national legislatures to not only reject ACTA efforts to globalize the American intellectual property regime, but to abolish the WIPO.
* We demand the elimination of the DMCA’s registration requirement for qualification under the “safe harbor” provision. It’s absurd that a website owner needs to mail in a form and pay a $100+ fee to the government to register a contact for copyright violations. A web page at a standard location (a la robots.txt) should suffice.
* We expect courts to apply penalties just as severe to rightsholders who issue abusive takedown notices as those applied to copyright violators.
* No more Jammie Thomases. Any penalties for copyright infringement must be sane and reasonable and not based unsubstantiated, outlandish claims of harm.
* No more Dajaz1’s. DHS/ICE’s seizure of over 350 domains without court review is an affront to due process and the basic principles of our legal system.
* No more Megauploads. Any penalties must be narrowly focused, with remedies specifically tailored to individual instances of infringement. Broad reaching site shutdowns harm innocent legitimate users and break the web.
* The Department of Justice must begin an anti-trust investigation into the copyright industry, with a specific focus on collusion between rightsholders and ISPs in monitoring Internet users, and payola and cross ownership with mass media.
* We demand an end to sales of radio frequencies into private hands. We hold that spectrum is a form of speech - it rightly belongs to the people and is not the government’s to auction off to begin with.
* We demand that ISPs stop interfering with file sharing via BitTorrent or any other protocol.
* We recognize a right of total ownership, not merely licensing, of products we have purchased and a right to tinker and modify them as we see fit. The Library of Congress should not be determining the acceptable boundaries of technology.
* We reject the principle of contributory infringement entirely. While there may be bad uses, there is no bad code.
* We expect legislators and judges to make efforts to educate themselves about the technologies they oversee, and to call on and respect the opinions of technical experts when necessary. The Internet makes nerds of us all.
* All research receiving any public funding, directly or indirectly, must be placed in the public domain upon publication.
* For the sake of innovation and competitiveness, the US Patent & Trade Office must immediately cease issuing software and business method patents, and declare all such existing patents null and void. We unequivocally reject any patents on mathematical formulas and genes or other naturally-occurring substances (human or otherwise).
* Copyright and patent terms must be reduced to reasonable lengths (two and five years from the time of creation, respectively). Works should only be eligible for the length of protection in the effect when created - the continuing extension of terms to protect Disney’s ownership of Mickey Mouse must cease.
* We recognize a broad right of “fair use” as essential to a vibrant and creative culture. We will remix, sample, mash up, translate, perform, parody and otherwise create derivative works as we see fit.
* Courts must accord bloggers the same rights as mainstream reporters. The right to a free press originally meant a literal, physical printing press - not membership in some government sanctioned elite. Blogs are the modern day digital equivalent.
We call upon all freedom loving Internauts to join us. We further call upon our legislators, bureaucrats and the media & telecommunications industries to immediately begin implementing our demands. The future of free speech is bright, and clear - either stand with us or get out of the way.
Originally posted at http://pastebay.com/303193