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Megauload, the Hong Kong-based website that allows for users to store and share files was closed down by the Department of Justice on January 19, 2012 – one day after the largest online protest against the signing in of SOPA and ACTA. Founder Kim Schmitz was arrested, and U.S$50m was seized.
The reason given – copyright holders were not getting paid, but the evidence seems to be amiss. Entangled in copyright issues with the U.S., the site was shutdown by the Federal government without the legislation to do so at a time when sharig information increasingly has a price tag slapped on it.
SOPA and ACTA
An online campaign led by Wikipedia, brought to attention SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and PIPA, Protect IP Act, allowant ws for domains to be shutdown basically. The reason given is to stop piracy, but in practice it is to stop the sharing of information that the big boys do not want for public consumption. What is sepcial about SOPA and PIPA, includes foreign websites as well as to increase income from patents including patents on the world’s natural resources with SOPA holding greater power over foreign domains.
However, neither SOPA or PIPA will protect domains against false accusations, as may the case with Megauload. Back to the U.S. what was signed in by President Obama was ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which is a multinational agreement for intellectual property law enforcement – but what’s the difference! In legal terms, ACTA is considered a treaty that falls under the power of the Congress, although President Obama signed it in. As such, backlash is going on. A Whitehouse petition to address the issue states:
The Administration has opposed SOPA and PIPA due to the damage these laws could do to the Internet. But many view the Anti-Counterfeiting Trace Agreement (ACTA) to be far worse.
This Administration supported the negotiation of ACTA in secret with a selected group of nations and with input from many corporate interests. The public and consumers were excluded from this process. FOIA requests were denied because of “National Security” concerns.
We object to the Administration’s negotiation of ACTA in secret, and approval of ACTA by Executive Agreement.
So the signing in is illegal like the wars on Iraq, and Libya. Nonetheless, the treaty was ratified by 22 European countries in Tokio, Japan on Thursday, Jan. 26 without public debate – but voters are irrelevant anyway; and was signed on October 1st 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. Once ratified by the European Parliament in summer 2012, ACTA will have legal jurisdiction.
If blocking the rise of people power is the main reason, then the opposite effect took place on January 26, 2012 when protests of 100,000 erupted on the streets of Poland over SOPA etc. Rallies broke out in Poznan and Lublin as soon as ACTA was signed in. Masks were donned by lawmakers, and the right-wing Law and Justice Party called for a referendum.
Back in the U.S., although online activism succeeded against SOPA, the bill is expected to be reintroduced in February 2012 for intellectual property rights means money! However artistes, and inventors around the world are caught in the middle. It is the time for change, and art should play a leading role in that change!
“Business Breakdown: Following SOPA Protests, Feds Shut Down Megaupload.” http://www.good.is/post/business-breakdown-following-sopa-protests-feds-shut-down-megaupload/
“Protests Erupt After Poland Passes SOPA-Like Bill.” http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57366989/protests-erupt-after-poland-passes-sopa-like-bill/
Richardson, C. “President Obama Doesn’t Support SOPA, But Signs ACTA?” http://www.webpronews.com/president-obama-doesnt-support-sopa-but-signs-acta-2012-01