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Internet freedoms restrained - SOPA/PIPA/OPEN/ACTA/CETA/PrECISE-related updates

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Looks like the Kiwis are starting to build a strong opposition to TPP:
If the TPPA goes ahead, we risk:
    medicines costing more
    GM labelling being scrapped
    internet access being criminalised
    copyright law being expanded
    parallel importing being banned
    te Tiriti o Waitangi being overridden

We would also be committing to special new rights for foreign investors, and to giving those investors the power to sue our government for making laws which they oppose.
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And as if to substantiate the point...
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
How The Copyright Industry Made Your Computer Less Safe
from the welcome-to-the-world-of-drm dept
I've already written one piece about Cory Doctorow's incredible column at the Guardian concerning digital rights management and anti-circumvention, in which I focused on how the combination of DRM and anti-circumvention laws allows companies to make up their own copyright laws in a way that removes the rights of the public. Those rights are fairly important, and the reason we have them encoded within our copyright laws is to make sure that copyright isn't abused to stifle speech. But, anti-circumvention laws combined with DRM allow the industry to route around that entirely.

But there's a second important point in Doctorow's piece that is equally worth highlighting, and it's that the combination of DRM and anti-circumvention laws make all of our computers less safe. For this to make sense, you need to understand that DRM is really a form of security software.

* The entertainment industry calls DRM "security" software, because it makes them secure from their customers. Security is not a matter of abstract absolutes, it requires a context. You can't be "secure," generally -- you can only be secure from some risk. For example, having food makes you secure from hunger, but puts you at risk from obesity-related illness.

* DRM is designed on the presumption that users don't want it, and if they could turn it off, they would. You only need DRM to stop users from doing things they're trying to do and want to do. If the thing the DRM restricts is something no one wants to do anyway, you don't need the DRM. You don't need a lock on a door that no one ever wants to open.

* DRM assumes that the computer's owner is its adversary.

But, to understand security, you have to recognize that it's an ever-evolving situation. Doctorow quotes Bruce Schneier in pointing out that security is a process, not a product. Another way of thinking about it is that you're only secure until you're not -- and that point is going to come eventually. As Doctorow notes, every security system relies on people probing it and finding and reporting new vulnerabilities. That allows the process of security to keep moving forward. As vulnerabilities are found and understood, new defenses can be built and the security gets better. But anti-circumvention laws make that almost impossible with DRM, meaning that the process of making security better stops -- while the process of breaking it doesn't.

* Here is where DRM and your security work at cross-purposes. The DMCA's injunction against publishing weaknesses in DRM means that its vulnerabilities remain unpatched for longer than in comparable systems that are not covered by the DMCA. That means that any system with DRM will on average be more dangerous for its users than one without DRM.

And that leads to very real vulnerabilities. The most famous, of course, is the case of the Sony rootkit. As Doctorow notes, multiple security companies were aware of the nefarious nature of that rootkit, which not only hid itself on your computer and was difficult to delete, but also opened up a massive vulnerability for malware to piggyback on -- something malware writers took advantage of. And yet, the security companies did nothing, because explaining how to remove the rootkit would violate the DMCA.

Given the post-Snowden world we live in today, people are suddenly taking computer security and privacy more seriously than they have in the past -- and that, as Doctorow notes, represents another opportunity to start rethinking the ridiculousness of anti-circumvention laws combined with DRM. Unfortunately, politicians who are way behind on this stuff still don't get it. Recent trade agreements like the TPP and ACTA continue to push anti-circumvention clauses, and require them around the globe, thereby weakening computer security.

This isn't just an issue for the "usual copyright people." This is about actually making sure the computers we use are as secure and safe as they can be. Yet, in a world with anti-circumvention provisions, that's just not possible. It's time to fix that.

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Some people (not me you understand), might say that through **AA-driven DRM, SOPA/PIPA and NSA surveillance, the US Corporatist-led government has been and still is deliberately facilitating a prolonged and hugely successful pincer move on Internet freedom and privacy, making a hypocritical travesty of the American Constitution in the process, but I couldn't possibly comment.
-IainB (February 07, 2014, 01:10 AM)
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Now it is become as Hydra:
SOPA backers seek to restrict online rights again -- but this time outside the law | Intellectual property - InfoWorld

This is presumably (still) being pushed by the enormous combined resources of the US government administration and corporate lobbyists.
As said here:
Mark Zuckerberg Says The US Has Become A Threat To, Rather Than A Champion For, The Internet | Techdirt
from the indeed dept

Better late than never: it appears that Mark Zuckberberg is finally really pissed off about the NSA surveillance efforts.
(Read the rest at the link.)

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I find this rather amusing. These people are creeping out of the woodwork professing to be "Shocked, I tell you! Shocked!"
Yeah, right.
Pass the popcorn.

Like we didn't already know that the US has become a threat to, rather than a champion for, the Internet. ...
Goodness gracious! Has it really?    :tellme:
-IainB (March 14, 2014, 05:37 AM)
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Some people (not me, you understand) might suggest that the threat statement could be rephrased as "...a threat to, rather than a champion for, the Internet, democracy, consumer and other freedoms, and sovereign nation rights.", but I couldn't possibly comment.

Good point made here (see my emphasis):
(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
Copyright As Censorship: Turkey's Prime Minister Copyrights His Recorded Calls To Get Them Off YouTube | Techdirt
Copyright As Censorship: Turkey's Prime Minister Copyrights His Recorded Calls To Get Them Off YouTube
from the copyright's-not-about-cenosrship? dept
Just recently, we noted that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has tried to shut down social media sites in the past, was once again threatening to ban YouTube and Facebook. The main issue: recordings of some of his phone calls were put online by those opposed to him. Erdogan has supported banning those sites by claiming that the recordings were "fabricated." Of course, it appears he's figured out there's a more modern and efficient way to censor content you don't want people to see: copyright.

Via Ankarali Jan comes the news that Erdogan has "taken out a copyright" in his own phone calls in an attempt to get them removed from those sites. Of course, that more or less admits that the calls are "real" -- though, as some have pointed out, he's never argued that the calls weren't his voice, just that they were edited inaccurately. Still, while more narrowly targeting the calls, rather than banning the whole site, may be seen as a slightly better path, the fact that his tool of choice is copyright should certainly remind us, once again, how frequently copyright is a tool for censorship, rather than having anything to do with its stated purpose.
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(Copied below sans embedded hyperlinks/images.)
The Rebranding Of SOPA: Now Called 'Notice And Staydown' | Techdirt
from the catchy-and-stupid dept

On Thursday morning, the House Judiciary Committee held its latest in a long series of hearings concerning potential copyright reform -- sometimes referred to as "the Next Great Copyright Act" after the Copyright Office kicked off the process with a talk on that topic (I'd quibble with the word "great" in there given how things are going so far). The latest hearing focused on Section 512 of the DMCA, better known as the "notice and takedown" provisions, or, more broadly, as the "safe harbor" provisions, which (mostly) protect service providers from being held liable for infringement done by their users. You've heard all of the arguments concerning this on both sides before -- and we had a post describing 5 myths likely to come up during the hearings (which did not disappoint). If you missed it, you can live through the torture below:
Or, if reading is your thing, Professor Rebecca Tushnet did her usual amazing job of taking insanely detailed notes of both the speechifying section and the Q&A section. There's a lot to cover, so we're going to break it down into a few different posts. This one is going to focus on the catchy phrase that came up repeatedly throughout the hearings: the idea that rather than the "notice and takedown" provision we have today, there should be a "notice and staydown." While mentioned repeatedly during the hearing, the concept was also outlined by two of the more maximalist (and clueless) defenders of extreme copyright law, Reps. Judy Chu and Tom Marino, in an opinion piece pushing for such a "notice and staydown" concept.

The idea is, more or less, that if a site receives a takedown notice concerning a particular copy of a work, it should then automatically delete all copies of that work and, more importantly, block that work from ever being uploaded again. This may sound good if you're not very knowledgeable about (a) technology and (b) copyright law. But if you understand either, or both, you quickly realize this is a really, really stupid solution that won't work and will have all sorts of dangerous unintended consequences that harm both creativity and the wider internet itself.

First, as was pointed out in the 5 myths piece, content itself is not illegal. It's actions concerning a piece of content. So, by doing a notice and staydown, you're guaranteeing that perfectly legitimate uses -- including both licensed uses and fair uses -- get blocked as well. That's because to determine if something is infringing, you have to view it in the full context. No matter how much some copyright maximalists want to believe that copyright is a strict liability law, it is not. The very same content may be infringing in some cases and not infringing in others. Not checking the context of each use would clearly block forms of perfectly legitimate expression. That's a big problem.

Second, and perhaps even bigger, is the fact that such a law would more or less lock in a few big players, like YouTube, and effectively kill the chance of any startup or entrepreneur to innovate and offer a better solution. Throughout the hearing, you hear people refer to Google's ContentID system -- which takes fingerprints of audio and video works and matches new uploads against it -- as an example of a proactive system "done right." Except, that system cost Google somewhere around $50 or $60 million to build. No startup can replicate that. And, even then, if you ask plenty of regular YouTube users, ContentID is really, really bad. It kills off fair use work all the time, it creates tremendous problems for legitimate and licensed users of content who suddenly find their content pulled and strikes on their account. It more or less proves that even if you have all the money in the world, no one can yet build a fingerprinting system that is particularly accurate.

If such a rule did get put in place, however, it would basically just guarantee that the few big players who could afford both the technology and the legal liability/insurance over the inevitable lawsuits, would be able to continue hosting user generated content. That's more or less ceding much of the internet to Google and Facebook. Considering how often copyright maximalists like to attack big companies like Google for not "sharing the wealth" or "doing their part," it's absolutely ridiculous that their biggest suggestion is one that would effectively give the big internet players more power and control.

The reality of the situation is that "notice and staydown" is really just SOPA 2.0 in disguise. The whole goal of SOPA was to basically to shift the issue of copyright infringement to the tech industry from the MPAA/RIAA. The idea was that if you add liability to the tech players, then it would magically force the tech companies to figure out a way to "clean up" infringement (leaving aside all the collateral damage). That's the same thing with "notice and staydown." The real issue is trying to shift the liability burden to tech companies.

It's the same story over and over again. The business model that the legacy players used to rely on has melted away in the age of the internet. Rather than truly adapt and change, they just get jealous of successful tech companies, and think that those companies somehow "owe" them money. And the best way to legally do that is to get politicians to magically place legal liability on those companies, so they have to pay up. Notice and staydown has nothing to do with actually stopping copyright infringement. It's about taking the burden off of the legacy players, easing the need for them to adapt and change, while trying to force big tech companies to pay up. The irony, of course, is that in the process it would harm much needed innovation from startups and entrepreneurs (the companies that the content creators really need the most) and lock in bigger, more powerful internet players.

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