Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

17 February 2009

Going Black to Fight 'Guilty Upon Accusation'

Avatars on Twitter are going ominously black to protest a new law, Section 92A, that's been passed in New Zealand.

After the 28th, users can get their lifelines internet disconnected "based on accusations of copyright infringement without a trial and without any evidence held up to court scrutiny." Because of the unveiled creepiness of that language, the law's been dubbed "Guilty Upon Accusation."

ReadWriteWeb -- whose New Zealand-based minion Ed joined the ban -- says the blackout's spread to Twitter's topmost tiers, notably to British TV star @StephenFry, the third-most-followed person on the site. Maybe in part as a result, blackouts have spread to Facebook, Myspace and Bebo. We're pretty sure you'll see them on blogs too.

Citizens of Internet don't have to be told that these types of rulings are the result of defensive corporate behavior and just general ass-backward thinking. We think it's important to be able to profit from the contributions you're making to the world, musical or otherwise. But technology changes things -- some technology, like the internet, forces us to rethink our business models or find new ones altogether.

That's not wrong either; it's just the world moving forward. (Consider that the VCR also freaked the entertainment industry out.) And if new generations of internet users increasingly perceive filesharing as part of the natural order, maybe we should find a way to move with that wave, shaping it as we go along -- think iTunes and Amazon -- instead of lashing out with lawsuits and extreme forms of punishments.

Victims will tell you: the only real demons are the demonizers.

It's also crucial to point out that copyright protection laws are not uncommon, but what New Zealand's done goes against the flow of where both consumers and governments are moving. In April of last year, European policymakers concluded that banning "suspected file-sharers" from the 'net is in conflict with "civil liberties and human rights."

And in December, our very own RIAA decided to stop suing song-swappers -- not out of the kindness of their hearts, but because the lawsuits ultimately cost them more than they were receiving in settlements. (Yeah, well, most 12-year-olds don't get a $12 million allowance.)

So New Zealand decides to not only ban persistent file-sharers, but potentially cut the internet connections of suspected ones? Without trials?!

That's just ugly -- especially now that the internet is increasingly perceived as a utility.

Anywho, the blackout takes place for a week. Find out how to participate -- or hell, just download the anthem -- here. If you're aesthetically too sensitive to take part, but still want to raise a fist against Witchhunt 2.0, the Creative Freedom Foundation is holding a song remix challenge in addition to "various other initiatives" -- video ads, radio broadcasts, etc.

First the drama of the Facebook ToS, now this. It's such an exciting time to be alive, connected 24/7 and full of rage.

Wonder what an internet riot would look like.


Candace said...

Wow. Are you going to join in?

Angela Natividad said...

I did ... for 24 hours.

Cynthia said...

You have your mouse on the pulse.