Censorship, Piracy and Public Domain

Hi all,
This would be a medium about the various events,happening which have been happening for sometime now and came to a head with SOPA and PIPA stuff last week.

I was thinking to write about some of the new or old finds of various GNU/Linux programs which had come into Debian but the changes these week has bought has pushed me to write about how laws are being made which are subverting public rights in the interests of big business all the while trying to be seem as ‘Upholding the law’. I know I perhaps would be preaching to the choir as well but here goes nothing.

While this had been happening for a while this week did bring lot of revelations which has made my dreams a horror while sleeping. The first jab is this article in Washington Post which seems bizarre to say the least. How you can copyright extend to things which have fallen into public domain. While big business does have money to claim copyright on public domain works. The article itself leaves no doubts that they (U.S. Govt. and big business) would be using it as leverage to push and further agreements like the TRIPS+ agreement in other countries where you would find individuals who are willing to ride the same boat. Remember the royalty issue which happened last year where the Bombay High Court sided with the recording companies last year, it seems just a minor precursor of things to follow.

Now, similar things are being tried for Hardware too. See the whole ‘Secure boot’ mess which would make installing GNU/Linux on newer netbooks,portables etc. (anything that uses ARM chips) more difficult to install than it is atm, not to forget the headaches for System and Network Administrators who are using GNU/Linux. It is a good strategy if one looks from Microsoft’s POV (point of view) but bad for you and me. If there is near-monopoly of an OS then prices are going to go up and whatever they want to do, they will do.Anything which makes choices narrower for me at least in the software-hardware dept. makes me feel uneasy and this very well is.

The most frightening development though has been the whole SOPA and PIPA legislations. If these were passed, not only the Internet economy would slow down but also blogs like mine could not put up. It does not take long for people to interpret any law just the way they want to.

A hint can be seen in the recent movement towards online censorship in India itself. A good starting read would be Jillian Fork (Freedom Expression) Opinion in Al Jazeera’s post as well as IBN Live’s interview in the same context. What is interesting is if you look at a single quote from that whole interview .

As a Constitutionalist, I cannot agree more with the executive that impermissible content such as child pornography, obscenity, hate speech, religious insults etc., should not be available on the Internet. There are methods by which this can be curbed and it is important for the executive to apply that methodology. Unfortunately, the latest series of attempts by the executive to ostensibly cleanse the Internet does not seem to emanate from its concern against child pornography or related matters of importance. It seems instead to emanate from the factum of very sharp criticism against political leaders being available on the Internet, post the Anna Hazare movement, which the political class is unable to tolerate. Thus, it can be seen as an attempt to elevate politicians into a class unto themselves and deprive citizen the Constitutionally enshrined right to criticize. To camouflage such attempts by denoting a facade of a fight against pornography, religious intolerance etc., is regrettable. If defamatory content against the political class is available on the net, recourse to judicial proceedings is the right methodology. No one other than the courts of our country, have the authority to declare a particular content as defamatory. By requiring proactive monitoring of defamatory content, the executive is clearly transgressing into the judicial domain.

– Sajan Poovayya, Managing Partner Poovayya & Co.

Some interesting articles that one can read the impact that both these legislations are passed would have. A somewhat humorist exchange can be found at twitter. Another interesting read would be Mihir Sharma’s business standard article although I disagree with him on the wikipedia sarcasm that he has made. See the play of ‘research/plagiarism’ indicating that whoever researches on wikipedia is using it to only plagiarize stuff. If that assumption is true then, Mr. Einstein must be the biggest Plagiarizer in the world.

If I have seen further it is by standing on ye sholders of Giants.

Sir Issac Newton

This is not to say that people who plagiarize don’t use Wikipedia but the assumption that people who plagiarize would be the ONLY ones to use wikipedia or other sarcastic remarks he made.And once you make the case for Wikipedia can any user-generated content site be left behind.

On the same topic, it would make sense if Wikipedia itself shares some of the reasons they went for the blackout which they did recently and what they thought about it afterwards.

In essence, what user-generated sites such as Wikipedia,YouTube and WordPress do is they keep people informed about different ideologies, trends and what not which otherwise would take time, money and even then perhaps could not come across.

Another point to consider would perhaps be why this legislation was needed in the first place. You could read about the reasons and the analysis of it here. Some of the ‘research’ done is so lop-sided and does not make any sense at all.

I don’t know how many people use YouTube everyday. While I have seen my share of Hollywood and Bollywood movies on YouTube what I found more interesting were either the parodies or the critic or response videos which were made as to what people thought about it which gives us more things to think and be excited about. And before you say anything please note that YouTube splits advertising revenue with the copyright holder when somebody views a copyright holder’s movie. What should people be really documenting and exploring how user-generated content influence and gets influenced by culture. An example could perhaps be the Imagination Project which is there on YouTube but then these ideas,experiments are just the beginning.

If people think I’m being paranoid then yes I am. The evidence at least to me proves that it is justified to be paranoid a bit.

What has also been interesting to read has been Megaupload takedown which happened few days ago and the studied reaction. What is interesting in that whole case is also Megaupload’s video where it hired some artists for its viral campaign and UMG shut it down. Also some of the collateral damage that people had. What is interesting is that nobody seems to have taken into account factors like User privacy while legislating for the bill.

To add to all the noise about piracy, present a pretty interesting read which should be read by every and any content-creator who wants to create content for profit.From what I perceive the college-going Indian teenager today has the same feeling as well as I as articulated by the original poster there.

With that, I hope you join the fight so that we can have many more project imaginations and keep experiencing new ideas to communicate with each other. Till later.


2 thoughts on “Censorship, Piracy and Public Domain

  1. ACTA is going to make internet service providers legally chargeable for all things their users do online. It’s a very dangerous regulation not just in web liberty but also to our day to day liberties. We’ve got to prevent it.

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