For the interest of discussion, I’ve made the above visual aid for members of Canada’s Senate, since this is the week that they have a chance to pass a Bill that “aims to make it easier for Canada to export affordable, life-saving, generic medicines to developing countries.” I wrote about this Bill C-393 earlier, stating how the right choice (passing the bill and not killing the bill) is obvious. But then it occurred to me that if the decision was so obvious, then why is there so much “push back” from the pharmaceutical industry (as well as the Harper government). It turns out the reason appears to be about Bill C-393 representing a trend that “could potentially” lead to a loss of control over the status quo. This being the status quo that provides the pharmaceutical industry with an inordinate amount of lobbying power to set prices; a business model that values huge profits above innovation; and something that they are so focused on protecting that even the smallest of losses must be avoided no matter the consequences. Which is simply reprehensible – because with this Bill, the consequences are not just about patent control: it’s about the livelihood of millions of people, where the decision to “kill” or “not kill” the Bill could literally be a matter of life or death. Please send an email to the Harper government by using this Avaaz link.
On today’s episode of the Southern California Public Radio program The Madeleine Brand Show, I joined host Madeleine Brand for a discussion of the role technology and social media played in the recent political upheaval in Tunisia.
Tunisia’s interim leaders announced a new government today after a surge of violent demonstrations toppled autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Many reporters and bloggers (and now, uh, Muammar Qadaffi) have been quick to credit Wikileaks, Twitter, and Facebook with fomenting unrest in the country. But is it accurate to describe what is unfolding in Tunisia as “a Twitter revolution”?
Some related reading today:
• Tunisia: That ‘WikiLeaks Revolution’ meme (CSM)
• The brutal truth about Tunisia (The Independent)
• Qaddafi Sees WikiLeaks Plot in Tunisia (NY Times / The Lede)
• Tunisia: Fears of Insecurity Overshadow the Joys of Freedom
• Arab World: Where is Ben Ali Headed to? (Global Voices)
• Tunisia: How the US got it wrong (Al Jazeera / opinion)
• Tunisia invades, censors Facebook, other accounts (CPJ)
• Wikileaks – US embassy cables: Tunisia – a US foreign policy conundrum (Guardian)
• The 2010-2011 Tunisian protests (Wikipedia)
• First thoughts on Tunisia and the role of the Internet (Foreign Policy)
(PHOTO at top of post: Students hold placards and flowers during a sit-in protest in Beirut January 17, 2011, organized by Lebanese activists Tunisians living in Lebanon to show solidarity and support for the people in Tunisia. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)
This card was designed by Peter Miller as an alternative to the kicking-of-doors and yelling-and-screaming that usually goes on when someone in a car recklessly endangers the life of a cyclist because they were talking on their phone, putting on lipstick, passing another car in the bike lane, etc etc etc. It’s a more subtle statement, but I think more effective. Peter has provided a PDF of the card to allow others to print it out on a magnet of their choice and distribute them as needed. [Thanks to TOLA for noticing it.]
Via the Submitterator, Boing Boing friend Doug Rushkoff writes:
My friend and occasional collaborator, technology artist Burak Arikan, writes from Istanbul that he, the artists, and guests at galleries in the Tophane district of Istanbul were systematically attacked by thugs last week. According to Burak, there was blood “everywhere.” From the press release prepared by the beaten artists:
“In an organized attack on art galleries in the Tophane neighbourhood of Istanbul, guests attending exhibition openings were physically assaulted in a lynch attempt by a gang of 40-50 people. The audience subjected to this atmosphere of total terror featured artists, academicians, students, writers, local and international journalists and cultural attaches from consulates. The attackers used knives, batons, broken bottles and pepper spray. The injured include Polish, Dutch, German and English guests.”
“International support is urgent to enable the security in the Tophane district in Istanbul. The international visibility creates the chain pressure starting from the head of the government, which puts pressure on the mayor, which then affects the local police to investigate the criminal gang. Then hopefully we have a viable security in the district. Our press release is a collective effort, a statement from the Tophane art community.”
Now this all leaves us with the obvious question: why are the galleries of this section of Istanbul being attacked by small armed gangs? No one is quite sure. Some say it is loosely organized conservative radicals, others say it’s state-sponsored terror against the emergence of a potentially counter-culturally inclined community.
The works itself, such as Burak’s piece entitled “When Ideas Become Crime,” appear innocuous enough. Then again, when ideas become crime, no one is safe.
Douglas Rushkoff is a media theorist and author. His new book, Program or Be Programmed, is being published this week by Or Books.
“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” – Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
No surprises here: A court in Myanmar (Burma) has issued a guilty verdict for Nobel laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She was accused of “violating an internal security law,” and will serve an additional 18 months imprisonment under house arrest. She has lived under detention for 14 of the past 20 years. Reuters, CNN. Guardian UK has a timeline of events related to the case.
Boing Boing and Boing Boing Video are partnering with Institute for the Future and Sun to support the Digital Open, in which youth around the world are invited to submit technology projects “that will change the world–or even just make life a little easier or more fun.”
The final deadline for submissions is August 15, 2009, but projects posted before the deadline will benefit significantly from feedback from the Digital Open community. We are giving away more than $15,000 worth of very cool prizes including laptops, video cameras, recycled billboard backpacks, solar-powered gear and more. We’ve already received 49 projects from eight countries: Argentina, Canada, India, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, the UK and the US!
More online: digitalopen.org
Update: Victory! — the treaty proposal survived this meeting and will be back on the agenda at the next one. We’ve got a couple months to lobby our governments and make sure that the next time they show up, they don’t embarrass us by opposing this.
Right now, in Geneva, at the UN’s World Intellectual Property Organization, history is being made. For the first time in WIPO history, the body that creates the world’s copyright treaties is attempting to write a copyright treaty dedicated to protecting the interests of copyright users, not just copyright owners.
At issue is a treaty to protect the rights of blind people and people with other disabilities that affect reading (people with dyslexia, people who are paralyzed or lack arms or hands for turning pages), introduced by Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay. This should be a slam dunk: who wouldn’t want a harmonized system of copyright exceptions that ensure that it’s possible for disabled people to get access to the written word?
The USA, that’s who. The Obama administration’s negotiators have joined with a rogue’s gallery of rich country trade representatives to oppose protection for blind people. Other nations and regions opposing the rights of blind people include Canada and the EU.
Update: Also opposing rights for disabled people: Australia, New Zealand, the Vatican and Norway.
Update 2: Countries that are on the right side of this include, “Latin American and Caribbean region including (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Jamaica) as well as Asia and Africa.”
Update 3: Canada is upset with me. That’s fine, I’m upset with Canada.
Activists at WIPO are desperate to get the word out. They’re tweeting madly from the negotiation (technically called the 18th session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights) publishing editorials on the Huffington Post, etc.
Here’s where you come in: this has to get wide exposure, to get cast as broadly as possible, so that it will find its way into the ears of the obscure power-brokers who control national trade-negotiators.
I don’t often ask readers to do things like this, but please, forward this post to people you know in the US, Canada and the EU, and ask them to reblog, tweet, and spread the word, especially to government officials and activists who work on disabled rights. We know that WIPO negotiations can be overwhelmed by citizen activists — that’s how we killed the Broadcast Treaty negotiation a few years back — and with your help, we can make history, and create a world where copyright law protects the public interest.
I am attending a meeting in Geneva of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This evening the United States government, in combination with other high income countries in “Group B” is seeking to block an agreement to discuss a treaty for persons who are blind or have other reading disabilities.
The proposal for a treaty is supported by a large number of civil society NGOs, the World Blind Union, the National Federation of the Blind in the US, the International DAISY Consortium, Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic (RFB&D;), Bookshare.Org, and groups representing persons with reading disabilities all around the world.
The main aim of the treaty is to allow the cross-border import and export of digital copies of books and other copyrighted works in formats that are accessible to persons who are blind, visually impaired, dyslexic or have other reading disabilities, using special devices that present text as refreshable braille, computer generated text to speech, or large type. These works, which are expensive to make, are typically created under national exceptions to copyright law that are specifically written to benefit persons with disabilities…
The opposition from the United States and other high income countries is due to intense lobbying from a large group of publishers that oppose a “paradigm shift,” where treaties would protect consumer interests, rather than expand rights for copyright owners.
The Obama Administration was lobbied heavily on this issue, including meetings with high level White House officials. Assurances coming into the negotiations this week that things were going in the right direction have turned out to be false, as the United States delegation has basically read from a script written by lobbyists for publishers, extolling the virtues of market based solutions, ignoring mountains of evidence of a “book famine” and the insane legal barriers to share works.
Filmmaker Robert Greenwald’s documentary about sleazy unionbusting at Starbucks debuted the same day as Starbucks new Twitter campaign, so he hijacked the campaign to spread information about Starbucks’ bad labor practices.
On a blog post published at the anti-Starbucks website Brave New Films created, people were encouraged to take pictures of themselves in front of Starbucks stores holding signs targeted at the company’s “anti-labor practices.” These users are then told to upload these photos onto Twitpic and tweet them out to their followers using the hashtags #top3percent and #starbucks. According to the post, these are the official hashtags that were designated by Starbucks itself for those who wanted to enter its contest. Within hours, several people had followed these guidelines and there were dozens of Twitpics in front of stores across the country.
As of this writing, the anti-Starbucks YouTube video has amassed over 30,000 views and was featured on the front page of social news site Digg. Greenwald said that Brave New Films is not done with its offensive against the coffee company, but he was hesitant to reveal his next steps.
- Critical Wal-Mart documentary to be shown in houses of worship …
- Fox News Porn – the prurience of prigs – Boing Boing
- Movie — WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price – Boing Boing
- Lessig speaks on tech IP law and indie filmmaking at LA Film …
- Lessig speaks on tech IP law and indie filmmaking at LA Film …
- Iraq For Sale: documentary about profiteering contractors – Boing …
- Uncovered: War in Iraq torrents under CC license – Boing Boing
After a last-minute scramble, the EU has been persuaded to kill the idea of forcing “3-strikes” copyright/internet legislation on European states. The “3-strikes” rule says that you can have your Internet connection taken away after a copyright holder accuses you of infringement three times — but the rightsholder doesn’t need to show any evidence that you’ve done anything wrong.
The entertainment industry has been lobbying around the world for the right to decide who gets to use the internet. In New Zealand, they managed to get Bill 92A, a 3-strikes rule, adopted by Parliament, but sustained, noisy activism from local geeks and artists forced the government to reverse its decision and go back to the drawing board on copyright. In France, Sarkozy pushed hard for a 3-strikes rule (his wife is a pop-star who is demanding more sweeping powers for entertainers over the internet), but was defeated. 3-strikes is a feature of the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which the US, Canada, Japan, the EU and other rich countries are conducting behind closed doors.
The entertainment industry slipped 3-strikes into the EU through an amendment to the notorious “Telecoms Package,” a huge, complex piece of legislation. To counter this, progressive MEPs wrote a set of “Citizens Rights” amendments that established that internet access was a fundamental right in Europe that cannot be taken away without judicial review and an actual finding of wrongdoing.
Activists went down to the wire this week, phoning and emailing their MEPs to ask them to vote to defend due process and citizens’ rights, and it paid off. Yesterday, the citizens’ rights amendments passed 407/57 — and the EU banned Sarkozy from reintroducing his failed copyright proposal.
A formidable campaign from the citizens put the issues of freedoms on the Internet at the center of the debates of the Telecoms Package. This is a victory by itself. It started with the declaration of commissioner Viviane Reding considering access to Internet as a fundamental right1. The massive re-adoption of amendment 138/462 rather than the softer compromise negotiated by rapporteur Trautmann with the Council is an even stronger statement. These two elements alone confirm that the French ‘three strikes’ scheme, HADOPI, is dead already.
- EU ready to screw up European Internet with Telcoms Package …
- Europeans! You've got 48h to contact your MEP and demand a free …
- Europeans: Write to your MEPs about telecoms amendment and protect …
- EU set to vote to remove neutrality from the net, give ISPs and …
- British govt asks EU to gut Net Neutrality – Boing Boing