Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Laws And Treaties Horror Show: Heroes And Villains

Ever since I started comparing the laws and treaties I've been agitating against to horror tropes, I've seen ever more reasons to do so. Partly as a bit of fun but mostly to counter the rage fatigue, I've decided to blog about the various laws and treaties that are floating about in terms of how they compare to horror characters, and identify the heroes and villains for your amusement — and hopefully to get you on side when we need you to fight alongside us.

The cartoon above shows EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht (Renfield) calling forth SOPA and ACTA from their graves as part of CETA, the Canadian-European Trade Agreement. Ever since we killed ACTA, then started wondering where CETA was up to, then Michael Geist (Jonathan Harker) started ringing the alarm bells, the Trade Commission has been nervous of getting another treaty trashed so spokesman John Clancy (disposable henchman) has announced that they've got the worst of the ACTA provisions out of CETA.

Even if that's true, as Geist pointed out in his blog, there's a lot to be worried about and we really need to see the text. Meanwhile, European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes has begun to go Van Helsing on copyright maximalism. In a blog post she wrote,

I’m convinced we need to reform copyright for the digital age. For me, merely making enforcement more and more heavy-handed is not the solution – especially if it results in draconian measures like cutting off internet access... we should make it easier to legally access the content you the European Commission proposed a reform of licensing rules to help get over it... Some previous attempts by us to modernise copyright rules... were significantly watered down... This time I hope the Parliament and Council are more aware... that people love the openness of the Internet, and want easier access to more content... reforms to licensing within our single market are a good way to start, while also ensuring that artists benefit.

The attempts that were watered down were about "orphan works," those items that are created by people who don't claim credit for their work. The result is, they're stuck in copyright limbo until the copyright runs out even though there's nobody to pay... except the collections agencies.


Meanwhile, across the pond, sponsor of SOPA and internet punchbag Congressman Lamar Smith is playing Frankenstein with his new bill, the IPAA, or Intellectual Property Attaché Act. Basically, he's dug up the mouldering corpse of SOPA, dragged it into his lab, cut off the feet, and attached them to his new monster. IPAA would

* create an Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property
* broaden the use of IP attachés in particular U.S. embassies

Basically, they're a global copyright police force dedicated to encouraging the kind of maximalism that I've been opposing since January. Has he not seen the White House's IPR public consultation? Is he not aware that ACTA is dead? Evidently not; he seems to be in a horror movie universe of his own. His Igor is, surprisingly, rebel Republican Darrell Issa. Techdirt reports that the markup of the bill has been called off due to the approach of an angry mob with pitchforks and torches before the storm clouds have gathered, so it looks as though the monster won't be getting off the table any time soon.


I nearly forgot to include the mighty RonZilla, or USTR, as he prefers to be known. In 1971 a Republican experiment began the erosion of human rights and the weakening of government regulations. Toxic substances filtered into the sea and RonZilla emerged from the resulting slime, roaring his rage at senators who question his secrecy in the trade negotiations ACTA and TPP.

Swiping public interest groups aside at the various negotiations rounds with his long, thick tail, RonZilla stomps all over concerns about internet freedom, public safety, and the environment while his corporate creators grin with glee at the devastation he wreaks on national sovereignty.

Efforts to bring down the monster have so far failed despite the deployment of battalions of protestors, whose bullets and missiles of information and requests for transparency have bounced off his scaly reptilian skin.

Still, the Internet Freedom Movement has not given up and is working to bring in reinforcements in the hope of finally destroying the monster, though to be honest we'd settle for taming him.

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