Conferences / News / Video

Beyond SOPA: ACTA, WIPO, and the Global Copyfight

Last week, I delivered a keynote address on copyright issues at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The talk focused on the activism around SOPA and assessed the global strategies employed by the U.S. and copyright lobby groups of shifting away from WIPO toward closed negotiations such as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

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  1. Closed Negotiations
    Luckily people are starting to wise to, and more importantly, speak out against, the anti-democratic nature of the entire process that spawned ACTA. Unfortunately, I think we’re doomed to a future of C-11 and SOPA-style restrictions here in Canada. Soon we’ll all be marching goose-step and yelling “hail-Harper”.

  2. Stop #ACTA
    Slovenia’s ambassador apologizes to her children and her nation for signing ACTA, Poland suspended the ratification process – likely as a result of the people that took the the streets.

    On February 11, all over Europe, more protests are planned.

    In Canada, dead silence. Oh here’s one, in Regina:

    One day earlier, there is a protest in Montreal, against C-11.
    Unfortunately on a Friday, when a lot of people have jobs to go to.

  3. Damn, I miss the brandy & cigars …
    It is my understanding that if one EU country backs out then then whole EU agreement is null & void. If that is the case then ACTA will be a poor deal to be part of without the EU’s involvement.

    Let this be a wake up call to governments and their international negotiations. Behind closed doors is a non-starter from here on out. I’m talking to you TPP.

  4. *sigh*
    Sadly, Byte, it’s easy to understand why Canadians are apathetic. There is little to nothing that can be done about it. The Conservatives have repeatedly, on many occasions, shown a distinct lack-of-interest in what Canadians (and experts, mind) have to say about any bill, unless it supports their position. Bill C-10 is an example of this, C-11 another.

    When your vote didn’t really count for much, and your government has shown an explicit distaste for your opinion, it’s certainly demotivating.

  5. @O.o
    THAT is why the cooperation of giants like Wikipedia and Google was so important to draw attention to SOPA/PIPA. I don’t believe for a minute it was done for the public good, but for their own. Both rely heavily on user-generated content.

    I already pointed out that Dr. Geist will be a speaker at an official EU Parliament INTA (=International Trade) Workshop on ACTA. Guess who will be joining him there? EU Commissioner De Gucht, this guy:

    Also this is interesting:

    I find most voices say that ACTA is non-binding in the US (in the sense that Obama can now say that it is, but that later on, when convenient, other people will say it will have to be ratified first, which at that point, of course, it won’t). But when the EU and Canada ratify, they will be.

    Here more info on the workshop thanks to MEP Marietje Schaaken (Twitter: @MarietjeD66):
    Other sympathetic MEPs on Twitter are the Pirate Party’s Christian Engstrom @Engstrom_PP and Amelia Andersdotter @teirdes

  6. I think network neutrality is in the spirit, if not the letter, of our charter of human rights, up there with freedom of assembly. We should expect a true separation of Net and state and that means neutrality.

    Our charter of human rights and freedoms would have prevented all this if it had the language of mass media. It’s not the copyright act that needs to be “modernized.”

  7. 12 steps to Big Media recovery …
    Looks like Big Media has realized they stepped in it this time, olive branches are beginning to sprout forth from the feculence. I have yet to decide if this is a huge turnaround or a

    I would hope for the former, but to help along the recovery process perhaps a tried and true model could lead the way …


    Step 1: Recognize that you are powerless to completly stop piracy (wrong that it is). As good as it might feel it just won’t happen, so stop trying to make that your driving goal.

    Step 2: Come to believe that a power greater than yourself (in this case, the consumer) can mitigate the effects of piracy for you. In other words, LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT!

    Step 3: Make a decision to turn your business model over to align with what the consumers want. They want affordable, easy access to the media to use whenever and however they want.

    Step 4: Make a searching and fearless examination of your business model. Recognize that the old ways aren’t necessarily going to keep working.

    Step 5: Admit that you were wrong to continue clinging so stubbornly to the old ways of doing things.

    Step 6: Succumb to flexibility.

    Step 7: Ask your Customers how to overcome your previous shortcomings.

    Step 8: Make a list of all persons you harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

    Step 9: Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except for letting proportional amends stand.

    Step 10: Continue to take personal inventory and when you are wrong promptly admit it.

    Step 11: Seek through survey and mediation to improve your conscious contact with the public so you can understand them, acquiring the knowledge and the power to carry that out.

    Step 12: Having had a cognitive awakening as the result of these steps, try to carry this message to stock holders, and to practice these principles in all your affairs.

    Now, to be fair, a similar program could be drawn up for the habitual infringer, I will leave that to aggrieved parties to draft.

  8. @Crockett
    I like your list.

    I also noticed your parenthetical tip-of-the-hat note that copying is wrong and I wanted to say that some people see it differently (Kopimi isn’t necessarily considered a joke to everyone).

    Some people consider copying a holy sacrament or even the ultimate meaning of life. We keep designing way to do it faster. Why?

    “Mimicry is the highest form of compliment.”

  9. @Gary “I also noticed your parenthetical tip-of-the-hat note that copying is wrong and I wanted to say that some people see it differently.”

    We are of course all free to our own opinions Gary. While I certainly do not appreciate the **AA’s of the world (I feel they do a disservice to creators and consumers both) I do whole heartily support artists. They deserve to be compensated according to their talents just like anyone else.

    I only pay for media I can support directly, thus I listen/watch a lot of independent (and interesting) stuff. I will admit to not being a true ‘vegan’, I do subscribe to Netflix as I think it is a model that should be supported. If I absolutely must buy mainstream media it is second hand. I do not ‘pirate’ but I certainly share anything that is open licensed.

    Artists should also consider if the **AA’s work in their best interests. They, in my opinion, cause much more harm than good, doing more to poison the well than anyone else. If more artists, as well as consumers, boycotted their products and thin contracts then change would come quicker. The two way road of respect must be repaired or we all will continue to fall in the potholes.

  10. @Crockett
    I guess I just don’t accept copyright as necessary for a vibrant culture anymore.

    I feel that there’s less need than ever for the legal intermediary called copyright to promote capital investments in creative works.

    Artists have direct access to the market and can now be self-employed, charging directly and well for their time, like everyone else.

    I don’t see artists depending on copyright for their bread or wringing their hands about copyright, only pure the intermediaries (publishing and distributing “specialists” where the primary deliverable was implicitly a digital product, or digitizable product).

    Actually, it looks like we agree on that. I don’t see a social reason to subsidize intermediaries. Even if it means they won’t exist in the future, I still expect them to evolve and continue to add market-recognized value (legislated value).

    Some artists might be unsure about the value of copyright and, like most of us, just put that little (c) on things to “protect themselves”, but I think we’ve reached a point where that’s a superstition. We do it because we have always done it, but I think our society operates without it.

    Though it is undeniably a linchpin of the information distribution business model, and copyright winds it’s way in agreements as “intangible value”.

    If you look at car dealerships, there are some strange laws requiring you to use car dealers
    hips, and *respect their monopoly*, to the point that we all have to go through a salesjob song and dance, when there’s no reason you couldn’t customize and order a car online today and have it delivered the next day. The purchasing process would look like any other: price + tax + shipping.

    The car dealerships successfully held onto their distribution monopoly, but I don’t accept that it has been a social net win.

  11. typos in my comment above
    “pure the intermediaries”
    should be
    “the pure intermediaries”


    “market-recognized value (legislated value).”
    should be
    “market-recognized value (NOT SIMPLY legislated value).”