Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Copyright law as a tool for state censorship of the Internet ~ By Maira Sutton

It’s a norm that is reinforced and exported abroad by dozens of trade agreements that carry provisions that mirror, and further entrench, restrictive interpretations of the DMCA. The South Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (aka KORUS) and the Australia-U.S. free trade agreement (aka AUSFTA) are just two examples. The language in those agreements was actually a lot like the DMCA. But the negotiators abstracted the language just enough so that U.S. law could still be compliant with it, while the other countries could be pressured to enact even harsher domestic restrictions. Following their trade agreements with the U.S., South Korea enacted a three-strikes takedown regime, and Australia was pushed into enacting policies requiring intermediaries to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

Now we’re seeing a disturbing trend where governments and state-friendly agencies are abusing DMCA takedowns to silence political criticism. Here are the cases we know about where governments have misused U.S. copyright law to censor the Internet [read column].
Nobody is suggesting that the DMCA is not needed to protect the owners of copyright-protected materials, such as movies, music, books, articles, etc. If somebody is uploading pirated movies or music to their website, they deserve to be taken down. But in this column, we find out that the DMCA law is providing an opportunity for governments around the world to limit free speech, including our own. Here is an example that Maira Sutton included in her column:
Keeping in mind that the internet takedowns are done without due process, you could probably hire lawyers to assist in getting an account reactivated, but that could require a lot of money and time. Those that are actually innocent of breaking any copyright laws, who saw their website taken down or a youtube account terminated, are very unlikely to have the resources to fight their case. You can't defeat the leviathan governments or corporations, let alone fight city hall. They've got you right where they want you: Powerless to protect your rights.

The worst thing about this censorship tool is the knowledge that our own United States government can limit free speech if it is critical of politicians, ObamaCare, or the President and his allies. Isn't that why we have the First Amendment to that "piece of paper" we call the Constitution of the United States of America?

If our government can write laws and create regulations that seem to have a noble purpose to protect us from crooks, destroyers of the environment, and enemies of America, and then use those same laws and regulations to erode our freedom, what has gone wrong? Are our politicians and bureaucrats just too incompetent to be enacting those laws or writing regulations? Or, are they a bunch of control freaks who purposely use vague language in those laws and regulations so that a President can just use his pen and phone to circumvent himself around the laws to do the bidding of his supporters?

What this is about is the ability for governments around the world, including our own, to develop methods to keep their establishments in power, and keep the citizens from being able be able to revolt, let alone, protect our freedom.  Our ability to stay free is being eroded, and our ability to spread the word about the "takedown" of our freedom is being silenced.  Just sayin'...


Copyright law as a tool for state censorship of the Internet
By Maira Sutton

Posted on December 3, 2014 by Electronic Frontier Foundation

From PersonalLiberty.com

This story by global policy analyst Maira Sutton originally
appeared on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
When state officials seek to censor online speech, they’re going to use the quickest and easiest method available. For many, copyright takedown notices do the trick. After years of lobbying and increasing pressure from content industries on policymakers and tech companies, sending copyright notices to take media offline is easier than ever.

The copyright law that state actors most often invoke is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The DMCA was the first major digital copyright law passed in the United States, creating strict procedural rules for how and when a copyright holder can claim that uploaded content infringes on their copyright. U.S.-based tech companies that receive these infringement notices must comply with these rules to receive their safe harbor — the protection they have from being liable for hosting unlawful user content.

The DMCA has become a global tool for censorship, precisely because it was designed to facilitate the removal of online media. The law carries provisions on intermediary liability, among many other strict copyright enforcement rules, which induce websites, Internet service providers and other such “intermediaries” to remove content that is alleged to be a copyright infringement.

~~~ READ MORE on PersonalLiberty.com ~~~

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