|Image from here|
Big Bully is watching your Government
It's no surprise to anyone that countries with means do what they can do 'negotiate' with other countries to have them see their way. While the US places not so subtle pressure on several countries through their annual Special 301 Reports, a recent wikileaks cable between US and Spain has shown that the US may have stepped over the 'pressure' line and moved into the 'threatening' zone. Part of the message that the US embassy sent the Spanish Government in Feb, 2008:
"We propose to tell the new government that Spain will appear on the Watch List if it does not do three things by October 2008. First, issue a [Government of Spain] announcement stating that Internet piracy is illegal, and that the copyright levy system does not compensate creators for copyrighted material acquired through peer-to-peer file sharing. Second, amend the 2006 “circular” that is widely interpreted in Spain as saying that peer-to-peer file sharing is legal. Third, announce that the GoS [Government of Spain] will adopt measures along the lines of the French and/or UK proposals aimed at curbing Internet piracy by the summer of 2009."
These refer to the ISPs having to suspend/take down websites on complaints received, along with certain other new measures. Incidentally, these measures have not been passed even by the US's own legislation so far. While there is a lot of pressure for the PIPA and SOPA acts to be passed after similar acts have already been blocked, US has not actually had these measures passed within their own country, and yet they've severely pressurized at least one other country to do so, most probably at the demand of the usual suspects - the big IP-holder lobbyists. The Spanish government at that time did not heed to these warnings and Spain was duly put on the watchlist. However, US's pressure did not stop there. In 2009, they were in touch with the Minister of Culture who proposed the "Sinde" Act. As ArsTechnica reports, in 2010 Sinde told the US ambassador not to worry about the legislation being watered down. Spain also happened to have the Presidency of the Council of the EU at this time. However, after great opposition from activists and the opposition party, the Bill was not passed, and instead was left for the new government, which came in a a couple of months ago, to handle. With the arrival of the new government came demands from the US that they immediately see the Bill through and after slightly modifying the Bill, the government has followed instructions this time with the Bill being effective from March 2012 onwards.
The whole process and ugly confidence with which US kept pressuring Spain till it got it's (big corporates') wishes leaves one wondering what other due process mechanisms have been violated world over. Meanwhile in Europe....
File-sharing is Holy!
While certain corporates may be insisting that file-sharing is evil, a group in Sweden has gone in the exact opposite direction and said it is holy! The group, estimated at 3000 strong and growing, has gotten itself registered as a religious organisation which believes that information is holy and for whom file-sharing is a central tenet. I'm wondering if the Church of Kopimism, as it calls itself, recognizes that this (probably?) does not make illegal activities legal. As the 1709 blog reports:
"Being recognised by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of kopimi. Hopefully, this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution", said 19-year-old philosophy student and spiritual leader of the Church, Isak Gerson." I assume "kopimi" translates to copying / sharing. I also assume that being a 19 year old spiritual leader of a religion is something only one person can currently claim to be.
They go on to say: "We challenge all copyright believers - most of which have a great deal of influence in politics, and who derive their power by limiting people's lives and freedom. What they most of all want [is] to limit the knowledge. We need to steel ourselves for their hatred and aggression."
Something tells me that aside from being in a nation drenched in religion, many Indians may find another reason to take special interest in this 'religion'!
Their website: http://kopimistsamfundet.se/
Edit: BBC writes more here.