Wormtongue's Lobbyists

As Glyn Moody discussed yesterday, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) annual report on "piracy" is out. I hate that usage - the word "piracy" refers to about the worst crime humanity is able to conceive, involving theft by intimidation,...

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As Glyn Moody discussed yesterday, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) annual report on "piracy" is out. I hate that usage - the word "piracy" refers to about the worst crime humanity is able to conceive, involving theft by intimidation, hostage-taking, rape and murder, and it is cynical marketing of the most disgusting kind for the BSA to continue to equate it with the unauthorised use of copyright materials, perhaps under circumstances their own members have created.

First, let's let the links tell the story today:

  • Overinstaller Awareness Day

    This is long, but it's excellent and insightful comments from SSRC on the BSA's as-poor-as-you'd-expect 2010 report. The summary; it's manipulattive, selective use of statistics designed only to tell the story the BSA wants heard, and lacking any balance to put it in perspective.  Just in case you've not found it, SSRC's tremendous research on Media Piracy In Emerging Economies is required reading for anyone choosing to express an opinion on copyright in the 21st century.  I hope that there are legislators taking note of this research.

  • BSA 2010 Piracy Report: Big Numbers, Big Flaws

    Glyn does a good job here deconstructing the BSA's report. Given we know their reports are biased rubbish now that SSRC has published their report, why do the BSA keep publishing them? Easy. It's because it is part of the foodchain - along with uncritical politicians who can't distinguish between lobbyists and citizens - that leads to bad laws like the US PROTECTIP Act and the Digital Economy Act in the UK and to government being used by industry, as it is in the USTR's Special 301 report.

    The BSA's report is specifically engineered to trigger over-reaching, citizen-hostile legislation. The BSA's position is the ultra-extremist end-of-scale. It's necessary to have someone marking the most extreme position, but we need to take a much more moderate view as the basis of legislation. But all the time they keep being rewarded by lazy legislators, they'll keep publishing.

  • US Senate bill amounts to Internet death penalty

    With the regulatory capture of the USA's copyright system pretty much complete, last year's bad law (COICA) has mutated into this year's PROTECTIP with the lip service responses to criticisms of the proposed legislation actually rendering it even more harmful. The tragedy here is that there's no-one at all to speak for culture, for youth, for posterity, for artists and for the collaborative creativity of the 21st century. It seems to me there's no reform possible since all the people who would draft new approaches are in the pockets of the very industries needing regulation.

  • Full Text Of The PROTECT IP Act Released: The Good, The Bad And The Horribly Ugly

    Here's a more detailed look at PROTECTIP, with good analysis from Mike Masnik as well as the full text so you can draw your own conclusions.

  • US to spend $30m fighting internet censorship

    Is there really no-one in the White House who can see the irony that the US is demanding an end to state interference abroad while the Protect IP Act and the grand jury investigating Wikileaks are both in progress in the USA? This is not juscriticism of the USA; the same sad situation exists in the UK, in France, in Italy, in Spain...

Special Interests

Why should you care about this? Because you are the collateral damage of this manipulative lobbying-as-if-it's-fact behaviour. It's used to justify raids on your company to check if your software is licensed, leading to the threat of them being used as coercion. It dilutes actions that would ensure your privacy - since your privacy means the industry can't track you so as to enforce your submission to their business models.

Moreover, related lobbying by the music industry threatens your children as they live daily in the real world of social media. It stifles cultural evolution by seeking to enforce rights that, had they been enforced at the start of the 20th century, would have prevented the very corporations using them for being established in business. It's being used by giant corporations to prevent competition.
 
What can you do?
  • One obvious step is to move away from software that demands end-user license agreements. Open source software needs no license compliance enforcement, for example, because you are free to use it for any purpose.
  • Another action is to join the Open Rights Group (or if you're not in the UK a local equivalent, like the EFF), who are increasingly effective as a counterpoint to the well-funded tools of large copyright-dependent corporations.
  • Finally, tell political candidates and MPs that this matters to you. Right now too many of them think it's a marginal issue.  By the time it has built into a background radiation of law that shapes the issues they do care about, it will be too late.
And if not you, who will speak up?



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