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Archive for June, 2012

The final ACTA vote in the European parliament has been scheduled for Wednesday next week. Despite recommendations from all the parliamentary committees to reject the treaty, the pro-ACTA lobby is still hard at work to convince the parliamentarians to vote “yes” anyway. They’ve now even decided to play the terrorist card. La Quadrature du Net writes:

“This Wednesday July 4th, the European Parliament will have an opportunity to reject ACTA as a whole, in plenary, and destroy it forever. After four years of citizens’ hard work, such a rejection would create a tremendous political symbol of global scale. La Quadrature du Net calls on all citizens to contact Members of the EU Parliament to urge them to reject ACTA, and beyond, to start a process to positively reform copyright law. A strong victory would set the ground for future reforms.

Last week’s adoption by the “International Trade” (INTA) committee of a voting recommendation against ACTA is extremely encouraging, but the final step ahead is indeed the most important: all the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will cast their vote in plenary on July 4th, 12:00PM, in favour or against ACTA. Citizens of the Internet must unite forces for this unique and historic occasion!

If chances of winning are now high, nothing is won yet. Last week, industry lobbies and the European Commission (responsible for negotiating on behalf of the EU) attempted to influence the Members of the INTA committee, and are already trying very hard to save face. We must therefore win this vote by a strong majority, to make it impossible for the Parliament to go back and stick to blind repression once ACTA is rejected.

As a citizen platform, La Quadrature du Net provides the PiPhone, a web tool allowing to call free of charge MEPs who are still not clearly against ACTA, along with some guidelines and key arguments against ACTA. Personnalized contacts should always be favoured over copy-paste of templates!

While engaging with the MEPs and their assistants, citizens are encouraged to start an open discussion about the need, beyond ACTA, to reform the EU copyright framework. Our online cultural practices must be encouraged rather than repressed. The voice of citizens, the free and open Internet, as well as our cultural practices matter more than a few industry lobbies’ interests!

“The ACTA debate could mark the beginning of a new era, where citizens organized online have the power to counter the influence of powerful industrial lobbies and short-sighted policy-makers keen on sacrificing our rights, along with the free Internet. By engaging with our representatives ahead of next week’s vote, we can not only achieve a huge victory of tremendous political significance against ACTA, but also help lawmakers understand how Internet and online culture work. Let’s win big on ACTA!” concludes Jeremie Zimmermann, spokeperson of the citizen group La Quadrature du Net.”

Rick Falkvinge has posted some email templates and even provides an email alias that resolves to all the addresses of the parliamentarians.

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This is a panel discussion about applying the concept of inherent rights to the ecosystem as a whole. This is seen by the panelists as a way to fight against the increasing commodification and exploitation of nature in the court of law, as well as a basis for the global environmental movement. Discussing are well-known environmentalists Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Cormac Cullinan and Pablo Solon. David Harveys moderates. The panel was held at the Brecht Forum at CUNY Graduate Center on April 21, 2011.

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Professor David Harvey discusses in this talk why our current capitalism can’t be “fixed” to create a more socially responsible form of capitalism. He gives two main reasons. First, capital simply cannot afford to pay for the growing social and environmental costs of production, which therefore have to be borne by individuals. The second reason has to do with the growth imperative of capitalism. Harvey argues that there are no longer enough productive investment opportunities around to keep a sufficient growth rate going, which has led capitalists to invest more and more in property to be rented out (including “intellectual property” and land-grabbing in the Global South countries) and financial speculation, or what Marx calls “fictitious capital”. This, in turn, has led to more and more bubbles and even more concentration of wealth. Harvey goes on to draw some guidelines on how to go about overturning capitalism in the current situation.

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Anthropologist and social theorist David Graeber considers in this talk the question why the kind of grandiose technological visions of the future that we used to have in the 1950s and 60s have disappeared, and why it’s now indeed difficult to imagine a better future at all. He argues that this has to do with the replacement of what he calls poetic technologies with bureaucratic technologies, that is the replacement of technologies that could lead to radical social changes with technologies that are designed to prevent those very changes. The talk was held at the School of Visual Arts in New York City on January 19,  2012.

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We’re now only two weeks away from the final vote on ACTA in the European parliament and the pro-ACTA lobby is stepping up its efforts to push the treaty through. For the first time the lobby has now decided to make its campaign public by setting up a website. This is a clear indication that the anti-ACTA campaign has had an effect on public opinion and, what’s more frightening to the lobbyists, on the opinion of the political representatives. La Quadrature du Net writes:

“This Thursday, June 21st, the “International Trade” (INTA) committee will recommend the rest of the Parliament to either accept or reject ACTA.

For months, many NGOs and public institutions produced analysis and commentaries, showing that ACTA is dangerous for innovation, freedom of speech and privacy online. Hundreds of thousands of citizens took the streets this past winter against ACTA, urging for a reform of today’s outdated copyright regime. This has led to an intense political debate within the EU Parliament. The different opinion reports recently adopted by several committees of the Parliament urged for the rejection of ACTA.

But as the final vote of the EU Parliament gets closer (scheduled for July 3rd-5th), all these efforts could be smashed.

Whereas the draft report of INTA rapporteur David Martin (UK, S&D) recommends the rejection of ACTA, other INTA members have tabled amendments asking either for the adoption of ACTA or for postponing the vote for years, pending an opinion of the EU Court of Justice on the legality of the agreement. Postponing the vote would ruin all chances to have ACTA rejected any time soon, and would pave the way to more repressive policies in the meantime. Citizens must remind Members of the INTA committee that postponing ACTA vote is a tactic of both the EU Commission and copyright lobbies to save face. If the final vote is postponed, the EU Parliament would be seen as playing into the hands of ACTA supporters, renouncing to its political power and its mission to defend citizens.

“Confirmed rumours in the corridors of the Parliament suggest that Thursday’s vote could be held in secret. Such a trick would allow Members of political groups who are officially against ACTA to escape their political responsibility. Important progress has been made in the last months as policy-makers increasingly understand the need to break away from repression and to reform copyright. We cannot allow powerful lobbies and the EU Commission to erase it all”, says Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.

Every citizen can participate in this final push against ACTA. Our PiPhone can be used to call Members of the INTA committee for free, and tell them to vote against ACTA!”

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Here’s another talk from the re:publica 2012 conference in Berlin. In this one, Rick Falkvinge elaborates on how the Pirate Parties organise themselves in a swarmlike fashion.

 

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Dmytri Kleiner, of Telekommunist Manifesto fame, and Jacob Appelbaum, one of the developers of the Tor Project and former WikiLeaks spokesperson, discuss here the implications of the capitalist mode of production and class society on surveillance and censorship on the Internet, particularly in view of current social media platforms and the increasing privatisation of the cyberspace. The discussion took place at the re:publica 2012 social media conference in Berlin on May 4, 2012.

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