Monthly Archives: January 2012

January 18: Strike against Internet Censorship!

http://www.sopastrike.com/strike

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[from e-flux]

Artists!

The US Congress is about to pass an internet censorship bill written by the copyright and corporate music and film lobbies, claiming that this bill is written in your name to “protect creativity.” The law would allow the government or corporations to censor entire sites—they just have to convince a judge that the site is “dedicated to copyright infringement.”

In fact, PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are backed and largely written by the Hollywood film industry, namely the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which is trying to sell goods and ideas that are already free. Similar to its most well-known President, Jack Valenti, who represented Hollywood interests in Washington, and vice-versa, the current chairman and CEO of the MPAA is Chris Dodd, a prominent member of the Democratic Party and US Senator from Connecticut for 30 years.

Artists, musicians, actors, writers, and media-makers need to sign. Your statement is powerful because the corporate music and film lobbies push these laws to censor the internet in your name.

fightforthefuture.org/pipa/artists

In solidarity, the e-flux and art-agenda websites will feature a block out banner from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST today, January 18. For the same reason, we have decided to cancel our announcements for the day.

INTERNET GOES ON STRIKE: ALL SITES AND PEOPLE TO GO OUT

Major sites all over the internet have gone on strike due to SOPA and PIPA, the hot-button anti-piracy legislation. Experts expect strike to last 150 seconds, and agree this is a “near eternity” in internet time.

Congress is about to pass what has been called the internet censorship bill, even though the vast majority of Americans are opposed. The Senate is scheduled to vote on its version of the internet censorship bill on Tuesday, January 24th, and unless there are 41 senators to voice their opposition to allowing the bill to proceed, it is expected to pass.

Legislation called the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House are purported to be a way to crack down on online copyright infringement. In reality the bill is much broader. It would empower governments and corporations to take down virtually any website, create new liabilities and uncertainties for web innovators, and make the web less safe. According to the varied and multitudinous reasons large numbers of sites and individuals are opposed to the bill, it betrays basic American tenets, such as free speech, prosperity, and national security. On top of all that, cybersecurity experts say it wouldn’t stop copyright infringement.

The legislation is backed and largely written by the MPAA, as they have said in media reports. They have also spent millions in lobbying dollars to pass this legislation.

is.gd/wuZp2S and maplight.org/content/72896

To see the bills, go here:
www.opencongress.org/bill/112-s968/show
www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3261/show

NOW, IT’S YOUR TURN TO TELL CONGRESS NO TO WEB CENSORSHIP:
CALL (202) 224-3121

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en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:SOPA_initiative/Learn_more

SOPA and PIPA – Learn more

What exactly is Wikipedia doing?

Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia: instead, they will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, and encouraging them to share their views with their elected representatives, and via social media.

What are SOPA and PIPA?

SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the “Stop Online Piracy Act,” and PIPA is an acronym for the “Protect IP Act.” (“IP” stands for “intellectual property.”) In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout. You can also follow them through the legislative process here and here. The EFF has summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.

Why is this happening?

Nothing like this has ever happened before on the English Wikipedia. Wikipedians have chosen to black out the English Wikipedia for the first time ever, because we are concerned that SOPA and PIPA will severely inhibit people’s access to online information. This is not a problem that will solely affect people in the United States: it will affect everyone around the world.

Why? SOPA and PIPA are badly drafted legislation that won’t be effective in their main goal (to stop copyright infringement), and will cause serious damage to the free and open Internet. They put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won’t have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn’t being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won’t show up in major search engines. And, SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.

Do you care about infringement?

Yes. Wikipedians spend thousands of hours every week working tirelessly in reviewing and removing infringing content. Wikipedia talk pages show tremendous care about protecting copyright and sophisticated study on the many nuances of what constitutes infringement as opposed to legitimate speech. Wikipedia is based on a model of free licenses. Every Wikipedian is a rights owner, licensing their work under free licenses. Infringement harms our mission; free licenses do not work with infringement. Wikipedia has a mission of sharing knowledge around the world, and that is not possible when the knowledge is tainted with infringement. So, yes, Wikipedians care deeply about protecting the rights of others and ensuring against infringement.

But this does not mean Wikipedians are willing to trample on free expression like SOPA and PIPA. The proposed legislation seeks to take down sites entirely, because courts and others simply don’t have time to worry about the nuances of copyright law and free expression. That is what is troubling. When the remedies are bludgeons, when entire sites are taken down, when everyone assumes that all content is infringing because some is, we lose something important. We lose the nuances of copyright about which our community cares, we lose our values based on protecting free speech, we lose what we represent. The Internet cannot turn into a world where free expression is ignored to accommodate overly simple solutions that gratify powerful rightowners who spend lots of money to promote the regulation of expression. There are better ways, like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to find the right approach to legitimate copyright enforcement without trampling on free expression. SOPA and PIPA don’t represent these values, and for that reason we ask you to oppose these bills.

Isn’t SOPA dead? Wasn’t the bill shelved, and didn’t the White House declare that it won’t sign anything that resembles the current bill?

No, neither SOPA nor PIPA are dead. On January 17th, SOPA’s sponsor said the bill will be discussed in early February. There are signs PIPA may be debated on the Senate floor next week. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. We are already seeing big media calling us names. In many jurisdictions around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation that prioritizes overly-broad copyright enforcement laws, laws promoted by power players, over the preservation of individual civil liberties. We want the Internet to be free and open, everywhere, for everyone.

Aren’t SOPA/PIPA as they stand not even really a threat to Wikipedia? Won’t the DNS provisions be removed?

SOPA and PIPA are still alive, and they’re still a threat to the free and open web, which means they are a threat to Wikipedia. For example, in its current form, SOPA would require U.S. sites to take on the heavy burden of actively policing third-party links for infringing content. And even with the DNS provisions removed, the bill would give the U.S. government extraordinary, ambiguous, and loosely-defined powers to take control over content and information on the free web. Taking one bad provision out doesn’t make the bills okay, and regardless, Internet experts agree they won’t even be effective in their main goal: halting copyright infringement. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a really great post about some of the more dangerous SOPA and PIPA provisions.

What can users outside of the U.S. do to support this effort?

Readers who don’t live in the United States can contact their local State Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or similar branch of government. Tell them that you oppose the draft U.S. SOPA and PIPA legislation, and all similar legislation. SOPA and PIPA will have a global effect – websites outside of the U.S. would be impacted by legislation that hurts the free and open web. And, other jurisdictions are grappling with similar issues, and may choose paths similar to SOPA and PIPA.

Is it still possible to access Wikipedia in any way?

The Wikipedia community, as part of their request to the Wikimedia Foundation to carry out this protest, asked us to ensure that we make English Wikipedia accessible in some way during an emergency. The English Wikipedia will be accessible on mobile devices and smart phones. You can also view Wikipedia normally by completely disabling JavaScript in your browser, as explained on this Technical FAQ page.

I keep hearing that this is a fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Is that true?

No. Some people are characterizing it that way, probably in an effort to imply all the participants are motivated by commercial self-interest. But you can know it’s not that simple, because Wikipedia has no financial self-interest here: we are not trying to monetize your eyeballs or sell you products. We are protesting to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA solely because we think they will hurt the Internet, and your ability to access information. We are doing this for you.

In carrying out this protest, is Wikipedia abandoning neutrality?

We hope you continue to trust Wikipedia to be a neutral informational resource. We are staging this blackout because, although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence actually is not. For over a decade, Wikipedians have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Wikipedia’s existence depends on a free, open and uncensored Internet. We are shutting Wikipedia down for you, our readers. We support your right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe people should be able to share information without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA (and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States) don’t advance the interests of the general public. That’s why we’re doing this.

What can I read to get more information?

Try these links:

As of midnight PT, January 18, Google has 3,740 articles about the blackout. Here are a few:
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Filed under censorship, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, protests

January 19: Anti-Fascist Marches in Moscow and Petersburg

19jan.ru/english/an-appeal-from-the-january-19-committee-2012

An Appeal from the January 19 Committee

Three years ago, on January 19, 2009, we lost our friends Stanislav (Stas) Markelov and Anastasia (Nastya) Baburova, who were gunned down in broad daylight in downtown Moscow. After many protest actions, marches, rallies, and speeches by activists and ordinary citizens shocked by this violence, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, themselves the unfortunate victims of the neo-Nazi narcotic, have been convicted of the murders and sentenced to life and eighteen years in prison, respectively. Events have come full circle and the criminals have been punished, but we continue to remember how sincere lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were in their anti-fascist convictions. We are aware of their absence on a daily basis, when hundreds of activists, people from various movements and of different ideological hues, require an uncompromising lawyer to defend them and an engaged journalist to cover their cases and their campaigns. So for the third year in a row, on the day when they were murdered, the coldest day of the year, we will take to the streets in an anti-fascist march to remind our fellow citizens and ourselves of the need for each of us to continue our daily struggle with fascism. We must be extremely vigilant in order to recognize fascism in ordinary things: fascism mimics and constantly changes its guises without altering its essence.

There are changes, however, that only a blind man would not notice. Three years ago, the neo-Nazis switched from the indiscriminate slaughter of immigrants to targeted, more “effective” political assassinations: this is how we lost Fyodor Filatov, Ivan Khutorskoi, Stas, and Nastya. After Tikhonov and Khasis were sent to prison, ultra-rightists were on the verge of tucking their tails between their legs, but a year ago, in response to the unlimited callousness and corruption of the courts and the police, we were treated to the monstrous, senseless riot on Manezh Square in Moscow. A year later, in December 2011, during the mass protests against the rigged parliamentary elections, we once again saw extreme right-wingers trying to appear more respectable at meetings of protest organizing committees and on the podium at protest rallies.

They scream that it is time we stopped “feeding” the North Caucasus, although it is not the most federally subsidized region of our country: the problem is caused by the local authorities there, who embezzle all available resources and suppress dissenters. The neo-Nazis stuff immature minds with demagoguery about immigrants, but if their fellow “national-democrats” came to power in Europe and began kicking out ethnically and religiously “inferior” Russia, what would they say? They criticize the regime, but many of them are always willing to serve it for a small fee by breaking up opposition rallies and attacking environmentalist protest camps. It is the neo-Nazis who will support the current regime if it is faced by the real threat of a democratic revolution demanding freedom and equality for all. Along with other opposition forces, they are against anti-extremist laws, but they want to abolish them only in order to insult other ethnic groups with impunity and play them off each other. It is not immigrants and “aliens” who threaten a mythical “indigenous majority,” but rather an ultra-right minority that threatens the majority of people in Russia. The “Russian question” is not the issue, but corruption and an unjust social order that enables some people to suppress, exploit and gag others, regardless of their ethnicity and religion. Nationalism is an obligatory element in this society. The anti-fascist cause is an inherent part of the struggle for genuine democracy, for the right to vote, to speak and be heard for everyone now deprived of this right. Baburova and Markelov proved this with their lives and their deaths.

Please join us on January 19, 2012, at 19:01, on Nikitsky Boulevard, for a rally in memory of Stas and Nastya involving social and civic activists and musicians.

We will never forget, we will not forgive! Russia for everyone willing to work and live honestly!

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The January 19 Committee is a public anti-fascist initiative involving people from various walks of life – workers and teachers, lawyers and journalists, artists and filmmakers, musicians and sociologists. The January 19 Committee was formed in autumn 2009 in memory of anti-fascist lawyer Stanislav Markelov and anti-fascist journalist Anastasia Baburova, who were murdered in downtown Moscow on January 19, 2009. The January 19 Committee will hold its third annual civic march against neo-Nazi terror on January 19, 2012.

More information:
Telephone: +7 968 836 9877, +7 919 970 0060
Web site: http://19jan.ru
LiveJournal blog: http://january-19th.livejournal.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/393549975496/

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City Refuses to Approve Commemorative Rally
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
January 18, 2012

The city authorities have refused to authorize an annual anti-fascist march and rally in memory of the slain anti-fascists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova due to be held on Thursday, Jan. 19, allowing only a “picket” on the largely deserted Ploshchad Sakharova on Vasilyevsky Island.

Human rights lawyer Markelov and journalist Baburova were shot dead in downtown Moscow on Jan. 19, 2009, and the date has been marked with vigils and rallies across Russia since then. Other anti-fascists, such as Nikolai Girenko, Timur Kacharava, Ivan Khutorskoi and Alexander Ryukhin, who were also killed by neo-Nazis, are commemorated as well.

Stefania Kulayeva, the program director of Memorial Anti-Discrimination Center, said City Hall refused to issue a permit on purely technical grounds, just as it did last year.

According to the law on public assemblies, applications must be submitted to the authorities from 15 to 10 days before the event, but because of New Year and Christmas celebrations, City Hall was closed from Jan. 1 through Jan. 9.

Kulayeva said she applied on Jan. 10, the first working day of 2012, but received a refusal the following morning on the grounds that the application was too late. Last year, she said she applied on Dec. 31, just before the holidays, and a refusal was issued on the grounds that the submission had been made too early.

She pointed out that the Jan. 19 march in Moscow has been authorized. “We didn’t choose this date, they could have issued a permit, especially if they did not need more than one day to give us a refusal,” she said.

Nevertheless, Kulayeva said the protesters are planning to gather at 6 p.m. near Gorkovskaya metro, the closest station to Ploshchad Sakharova, and walk together to the site for security reasons, as threats against participants have appeared on neo-Nazi web sites. The event, which will feature a slide show, will be held at 7 p.m.

Under Russian law, picketing is defined as a form of stationary public assembly that does not use sound amplifying equipment. Only posters and other forms of visual agitation are allowed.

Kulayeva said that she received multiple phone calls from City Hall officials and police officers Tuesday, who warned her against holding an unauthorized march.

“It appears that the commemoration of human right activists and anti-fascists such as Markelov is highly undesirable for the authorities,” she said.

Markelov, 34, and Baburova, 25, were shot and killed by a masked man in downtown Moscow after they left a press conference at the Independent Press Center.

Despite international outcry over the killings, neither Prime Minister Vladimir Putin nor President Dmitry Medvedev reacted or offered their condolences to the families of the slain activists.

Interfax quoted a Foreign Ministry official who said that the murders were “artificially politicized and used, with dishonest intentions, to discredit Russia.”

In November 2009, Nikita Tikhonov and his partner Yevgeniya Khasis, described as extreme nationalists, were arrested in Moscow and charged with the double murder. The investigators said the FN/Browning M1910 semi-automatic pistol that was used in the double murder was found in their apartment during a search.

In May 2011, Tikhonov was sentenced to life imprisonment, while Khasis as an accomplice was sentenced to 18 years in a penal colony.

According to the January 19 Committee in Moscow, commemorative events for Baburova and Markelov will be held in 20 Russian cities, including Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, Petrozavodsk, Ufa and Omsk, as well as in Ukrainian cities and in Berlin and Paris.

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Filed under activism, anti-racism, anti-fascism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, racism, nationalism, fascism, Russian society