With today being the day Wikipedia and a wide range of other sites have either gone dark or taken other action to protest draconian internet censorship legislation making its way through the US Congress, it seems an opportune time to highlight our own government's ongoing concerning behaviour on that front.
Of particular concern is their continuing refusal to release details of a secretive meeting between government representatives and representatives of the same organisations that are behind the draconian US bills currently being protested. The government even deliberately excluded representatives of a number of community interest organisations that sought to attend these discussions.
These legacy media companies (aka horse drawn carriage manufacturers) are flailing around wildly as the rise of free and open digital communications networks (aka automobiles) threatens the cherished gatekeeper role they have enjoyed for the past few decades as media distributors. They have failed to adapt, and are increasingly being bypassed as artists, writers, musicians, comedians and other media creators find ways to use the power of the internet to connect more directly with their fans. These direct connections are great for both artists and fans, but place the intermediaries like YouTube, Apple iTunes, Amazon, BandCamp, Flickr, etc, in the role of service providers to the artists and fans rather than gatekeepers to widespread distribution. Unfortunately, instead of going gracefully into that good night, these organisations are investing inordinate sums of money worldwide in lobbying for legislation that would make the permissive, open practices of most of these new service providers a recipe for prohibitively high legal liabilities, effectively making those practices unsustainable and thus breaking the internet as we know it today.
Australia already markedly shifted many intellectual monopoly policies to favour the interests of US copyright holders at the expense of Australian citizens when we signed the US-FTA some time ago. We have also participated in the secretive process of drafting the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which spends far more time considering digital copyright infringement than it does actual counterfeiting. The current negotiations over membership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement raise legitimate fears that Australia's intellectual monopoly policy will be shifted even further towards the draconian position of the United State Trade Representative, even as those policies are being protested strongly within the US itself.
In line with your published policy on community participation in government, do the Greens plan to publicly question the government over their apparent willingness to place the interest of large US companies ahead of those of individual Australian citizens?
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Using the SOPA protests to highlight related problems in Australia
I figure this is the easiest place to publish the message I just sent to Larissa Waters, the Greens Senator that is one of Queensland's representatives in the Federal Senate. I also wrote to Yvette D'ath (our local MHR) a few days ago, but I didn't keep a copy of that one. Will this achieve anything? Probably not, but hey, at least I tried (and if none of their constituents ever write to them about it, our reps are quite entitled to assume we're all OK with them selling out the county to legacy US media interests):