Happy American Censorship Day

American Flag hangs down

You know, as a Canadian growing up north of the 49th parallel, I learned an awful lot about freedom of speech from American Movies.   Films like

1984
and

Brazil

Were stunning. Although there was a particularly good French film, (based on the Ray Bradbury story) ofFahrenheit 451, too.

The Hollywood community knew all about censorship, you see. The Hollywood fight to prevent censorship from without by creating their own censorship in the form of the Hayes code is legendary. For decades film makers tried every ploy imaginable to sneak things past the Hays Office.

My own personal brush with industry self censorship was when I was working on Hot Shots and Night Heat, which were Canadian-American co-productions. I was never aware of any such directive from CTV, the Canadian network that ran the shows in prime time. But even though CBS ran the series’ as part of CBS Latenight (at a time when all the children ought to be asleep) although I don’t believe it was written down anywhere, I certainly recall the verbal ground rules we writers had to abide by. A 1 hour episode was allowed to contain as many as ten “hell”s and/or “damn”s, and one of either “bitch” or “bastard. All bets were off if a character could be legitimately talking about a female dog, or an ‘illegitimate’ child.

It always boiled down to the idea that self censorship would prevent externally imposed censorship. And films get banned in different places anyway, as can be seen from this Wikipedia list of banned films. (The most bizarre to me is the Manitoba ban on comedies.)

Free speech is something many Americans value in the extreme.

But it’s awfully hard to have either creative freedom or free speech if there is external censorship. The unique aspect of the proposed American SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) law isn’t that it allows the state to censor, it sounds as though it will allow anyone to censor anything. Some people think this is a good thing, because they will be able to stop the the free speech of others, speech they disagree with. Of course, they never realize that it can also be used to silence them.Maple Leaf that says "Oh! Canada"

If the American “Protect IP” or “SOPA” law passes by Christmas, as intended, the Internet as we know it will be over. I have to wonder, too, if the rush to get our Canadian DMCA, Bill C-31 passed by Christmas is connected.

The Irony, of course, is that all of this censorship, and all these repressive measures are being driven by Hollywood, the former champion of free speech.

This little (non-Hollywood) film explains it better than I can:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yDX8Lyl16Qs

If you have video issues, you can watch the webm version here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/fftf-actionkit/Protect_IP_Act_Breaks_the_Internet.webm

If you’ve never read George Orwell’s book “1984”, or seen the movie “1984”, now would be a very good time. This is the “1984” movie trailer.

You can also follow the grass roots Occupy Wall Street Movement all over the interwebs (at least until they get shut down) at http://www.ustream.tv/TheOther99

In solidarity with our American friends trying to convince their government not to break the Internet with IP Protect, I have also posted “Stop Censorship” on my personal blog, the StopUBB blog and my family website.

go to American Censorship websiteCanadians: tell our government not to pass Bill C-11, which will have much the same effect on Canada. 😦

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

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Memo to World: Stop ACTA Now!

[Just in case there is any confusion about the title, this blog article is purely my own. It should not be blamed on one of the many excellent grassroots movements in opposition to the secret ACTA trade agreement, Mexico’s Open ACTA whose Twitter account name is @StopACTANow. ]

In case you don’t know what all the ACTA fuss is about (and why should you, the mainstream media, with it’s vested interest, is not reporting on ACTA) this is a Video that gives a pretty good overview:

NO ACTA – Stop the Kraken

Converted to OGG format (large): NO ACTA – Stop the Kraken
Converted to OGG format (small): NO ACTA – Stop the Kraken
And this is the transcript of the text from the film.

ACTA proposes only one remedy against counterfeiting and piracy, and that remedy is repression. ”

KEI: Brazilian intervention at TRIPS Council: ACTA

 

This is Marietje Schaake, Member of European Parliament, on ACTA

Marietje Schaake on ACTA on YouTube
Converted to OGG format (large): Marietje Schaake on ACTA
Converted to OGG format (small): Marietje Schaake on ACTA

It’s not over yet

The world wears Mouse ears and reads ACTA attacks Internet is the La Quadrature Du Net ACTA Logo
Funny, even though consensus couldn’t be reached, the ACTA countries have each taken the agreement back to their respective governments to try and get it signed. They have all agreed that there will be no further rounds of negotiation.

Apparently though, changes can still be made to the text. Since I am a citizen, not a diplomat, I have to wonder if this means that each country can sign a version of ACTA that they are comfortable with, respective of the wants and needs of the others? If so, it would detract from the point of having one universal treaty.

Do the participating parties know? Apparently President Obama wants to have something signed before his election. Its beginning to sound as though anything will do.

This is, of course, how bad laws and bad treaties are made.

Would ACTA benefit the citizens of any country? Clearly, the answer to that would have to be “no.” ACTA is to the benefit of specific corporations at the expense of people. In it’s original incarnation it was purely a corporate wish list.

Either way, it still hasn’t gone away.

Here are a few links worth checking:

TechDirt points out that Korea (a possible model for ACTA) was pressured into a 1 strike law as part of a “free trade” agreement. In South Korea One ACCUSATION gets you evicted from the Internet.

Open… : KEI’s Jamie Love on what EU must do About ACTA Respected UK journalist Glynn Moody reports Jamie Love’s tweet which points out that an ACTA footnote opens the way to removing Patents from ACTA altogether. (Weak ties, eh? Sure looks like International Co-operative Activism to me, Malcolm.)

online petition: ACTA – PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS! Avaaz petition regarding ACTA’s pharmaceutical aspects.

Media Industries: ACTA, Pharmaceuticals opinion piece makes a nice ethical point.

OUPblog (Oxford University Press): The Proposed New Copyright Crime of “Aiding and Abetting”

Balkinization: Open Letter to the President on ACTA Negotiations

More than 70 academics, mostly legal scholars, are urging President Barack Obama to open a proposed international intellectual-property agreement to public review before signing it.

ThreatLevel: Scholars Say International Property Accord Needs Senate Approval

There’s even an online Blogazine devoted to stopping ACTA, the ACTA Daily

Canadian Flag

Oh! Canada: A.C.T.A.: Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (double speak) article is kind of a resource roundup from a few months back. Lots of great links to help explain the background and the process.

Canada is one of the parties to ACTA.
Isn’t it time that our government spoke up?
Maybe we could hear from Charlie Angus?

Hello?

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“A desire for profit is not wrong in itself, but it isn’t the sort of urgent overriding cause that could excuse mistreating others.”

Richard Stallman, president of the Free Software Foundation



Credits

 

Thanks to Dr. Roy Schestowitz for the beautifully apt Richard Stallman quote.

OGG transfers via TinyOGG

“Marietje Schaake on ACTA” video converted/hosted with permission

No ACTA – Stop The Kraken
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