Friday, November 4, 2011

Internet Under Fire

Top news for netizens: The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, aka P.R.O.T.E.C.T. IP Act,[S.968] now known as the "Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation Act" ie E-Parasites Act [HR 3261] and Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA] and unofficially known as the Blacklist Bill [watch the name-shifting; confusing eh? It's supposed to be] which also lumps in a House version of the felony streaming bill [S 978] that will make huge swaths of Americans felons for streaming content online is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 16.

You can sign the petition on We The People, the White House's "outreach" petition program, here. In order to warrant a response from the White House, it has to reach 25,000 signatures by November 30th.

Also under threat from Google

If you need reasons, you might want to read this Professors’ Letter in Opposition to 'Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011' from July, 2011 by 108 law professors.

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Meanwhile, Net Neutrality, the First Amendment of the digital age, is under fire in the Senate; a vote scheduled next week on a “resolution of disapproval”; a measure in Congress that would strip the FCC of the authority to enforce Net Neutrality rules or any other safeguards for the open Internet.

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The elephant in the room

These measures are no joke, seeing as how the Net has become the Free Press of the digital age. Given the interaction between social networking and popular uprisings, these measures would go far towards suppressing free speech under the cloak of "preventing piracy" and are sponsored by the huge media companies, whose revenues are plummeting not because of "piracy" but because of garbage product, broken DCMA software and trying to dictate "culture" and "popular taste."

The dirty little elephant in the room is not college students using P2P software to trade cool music because of the destruction of real radio at the hands of those who would dictate what you should listen to regardless of your own preferences but Chinese and Taiwanese factories that pump out 10,000 factory-sealed discs daily, complete with top-of-the-line graphics and cd/dvd pressings. This counterfeiting far surpasses any losses from casual tune-swapping or ripping to hard drives for convenience.

Because of our "trade agreements" with these countries, even Microsoft will not go after them despite huge shipments of counterfeit discs from these countries being seized repeatedly both at Customs and already inside country borders.

The facts remain: many studies and factual reports indicate that not only are musicians making more money than ever, dvd movie and cd music sales are actually up. It's the middlemen, the parasites, that are losing what they consider their rightful, obscene profit margins.

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The RIAA and MPAA lie

I personally remember making "mix tapes" off the radio when I was younger; I'd listen to them, decide if I really liked a song enough to buy the album or if I only wanted the 45 single. I'd still buy as much music as I did before; in fact, radio helped me find out about artists I didn't know about and encourage me to buy more product (as cassette tapes didn't have nearly the fidelity of vinyl).

Well, the Industry killed the 45/single format, went to CDs that they told us would cost far less "once we retooled our vinyl factories to produce CDs" and never reduced the selling prices although the cost for producing digital goods has plummeted to a fraction of the cost of vinyl production and shipping, and made back catalog (classic tunes, movies and albums many people would willingly buy) unavailable.

Why did they do this? Because older material has better contracts, balanced between profit for the artist and for the company; new contracts all but impoverish artists while the Company rakes in profit, plays dirty accounting tricks and fraud to show "losses" on multi-platinum releases and makes a mockery of "supporting artists."

For the same reason, they squeezed radio stations with piratical "performing rights" legislation, dictated playlists and ended up reducing radio to a handful of songs endlessly ground into your ears in the attempt to tell you what's cool and what you should buy, because they geared a whole advertising and backscratching tie-in campaign in order to drive culture, not to celebrate or distribute it.

In fact, the RIAA and MPAA statistics have been repeatedly debunked.

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Breaking the internet - c
olluding interests

This collusion between lawmakers and the entertainment industry is being used to not only limit our selections of what and where we want to see or hear something we've paid for [like ripping a cd or dvd to a hard drive] but to set dangerous precedent in law, allowing commercial interests to trump consumer rights. These subversions and twistings of law are then taken up by government interests, who use these precedents to further attack the open and free flow of information and discussion on the Net.

The entertainment industry is funneling enormous amounts of money into lobbying Congress to pass these bills. In many cases, motions and bills are presented in last-minute "midnight sessions" with little or no public notice or debate. The semantic shift from "copyright violation" and "counterfeiting" to "piracy" is being used to equate digital copying with terrorism, stifling debate and questions as to the figures being presented by the RIAA and MPAA as to their "loss of profits."

The exposes of the entertainment industry's shady and misleading accounting practices are manifold. The reports of the underhanded tactics of their lobbyists and bribed Congresscritters are also legion.

Lawmakers are being bought by the entertainment and communications companies, which are playing into the interests of a government that would like to see free speech curtailed and the Internets "brought to heel," incidentally breaking fundamental functions of the nets:

Security and Other Technical Concerns Raised by the DNS Filtering Requirements in the PROTECT IP Bill [PDF]

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Protect your Internets

The Internets are the democratic free press of our age. Cost-of-entry is within reach for a majority of people. No media has been this accessible to the common man since the invention of the printing press and the distribution of books (which the Church tried vainly to suppress).

Given the recent global dialogues/uprisings started with the 'los indignados' movement in Spain earlier this Spring and the continuing communications sweeping the globe, the free Internet is crucial to the future of this planet. The distribution of information regarding corporate collusion with lawmakers, bribery through lobbyists, facts and data now accessible and distributable can go a long way to untangling and uncovering some of the mechanisms that have resulted in this current global meltdown.

Please take a few moments to learn what you can do to protect the Internets that you love. Follow the links at the top of this page; look over the links in the right sidebar under 'Legal' and 'Resource Material' and get involved; it's your home.

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Clouting Klout (and etc)

Finally, just a little post I liked about Klout, social metrics and why the hell I'd follow someone just because "they have a huge Klout score" instead of what they have to say:

Stop the Social Puppetry for Klout and Other Influence Metrics!
[Social Media Today]

I've been aware of this since the early days of ICQ, AIM, MSN Messenger and hit counters, "badges" and other early web cruft. I read a lot of heavy science, networking and other esoteric posts I consider interesting, informative and backed with skill and insight; I don't need a scorecard or number to tell me they are important or have something viable and useful to say. I'm sure a lot of what I seek out and read would have a low "Klout" or "social metric" score.

On the same issue, I resent some company trying to tell me how to use my friendships and networks to cash in. My friends are not for sale. I Follow someone because of what they have to say, not because they have a big "score." That kind of thing went out for me sometime in my freshman/sophomore high school years.

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