Today (or yesterday in Europe), hundreds of thousands of people are raising their voices in protest of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a draconian, corporatist treaty that needs only six more countries to ratify it before it goes into action. This treaty would be a huge blow to the internet community, especially music-related sites like my humble space here. You probably already know about the internet shitstorm that blocked/delayed SOPA and PIPA in the United States. That was a good start, but we are still in the position of having to push this oppression much farther uphill before anybody is safe.
ACTA opposes the interests of the vast majority of people on this planet, both in the developed world -- where the main impact would be on free communication and sharing of information -- and in developing countries -- where generic medicine would be considered "illegal counterfeit," deemed so by the pharmaceutical industry who would rather sell HIV medicine to poor Africans at cruelly high markup. This is one of the kinds of laws that affects everyone. It's been in development for at least four years, but the SOPA/PIPA debacle has drawn more attention to it in recent weeks. The powers that be have tried very hard to keep the public out of the discussion:
Both the Bush administration and the Obama administration had rejected requests to make the text of ACTA public, with the White House saying that disclosure would cause "damage to the national security." In 2009, Knowledge Ecology International filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request in the United States, but their entire request was denied. The Office of the United States Trade Representative's Freedom of Information office stated the request was withheld for being material "properly classified in the interest of national security." US Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT)and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) penned a letter on 23 November 2009, asking the United States Trade Representative to make the text of the ACTA public. According to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR): “There are questions of constitutional authority surrounding whether the administration can enter into this agreement without Congress’s approval ... Either way, when international accords, like ACTA, are conceived and constructed under a cloak of secrecy, it is hard to argue that they represent the broad interests of the general public. The controversy over ACTA should surprise no one.”
ACTA is dangerously anti-democratic. We all have to do our part to fight it. The MPAA, RIAA, pharmaceutical companies, Monsanto, and other "evil" powers who already run our lives with too much control, will always want more from you. They will continue to take more from you if you do not stop them.
"So what am I supposed to do?" you ask. Currently, the front line of this battle is in Europe. A French organization called La Quadrature du Net has a lot of useful resources, such as this ACTA dossier, an analysis of the treaty, and some ideas on how to fight it.
I'll soon return to your regularly scheduled programming.