In the context of all the good advancing copyright law can do for us as we move further into the twenty-first century (see “How creativity is being strangled by the law“), I almost shed a tear for Americans this afternoon because of these two bills being rushed into action:
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a bill saying that anyone offering an open Wi-Fi connection to the public must report illegal images including “obscene” cartoons and drawings–or face fines of up to $300,000.
That broad definition would cover individuals, coffee shops, libraries, hotels, and even some government agencies that provide Wi-Fi. It also sweeps in social-networking sites, domain name registrars, Internet service providers, and e-mail service providers such as Hotmail and Gmail, and it may require that the complete contents of the user’s account be retained for subsequent police inspection. [cont.]
Page 411 of this 747-page bill is “Section 494(A): CAMPUS-BASED DIGITAL THEFT PREVENTION” wherein the bill’s meaning takes a serious detour from its title. To prevent college students from illegally accessing copyrighted material, the section says all schools shall (when you see the word “shall” in a law, it’s a requirement, not a suggestion):
1) Have “a plan for offering alternatives to illegal downloading or peer-to-peer distribution of intellectual property”
2) Have “a plan to explore technology based deterrents to prevent such illegal activity.”
The craziest thing about this is that noncompliant schools would lose all their federal funding, for all their students. No more Pell Grants. No more federal financial aid. No more student loans. This is not just draconian punishment for students who break the law, this punishes all students at that institution even if they did nothing!
Beyond that, both requirements actually work against the point of the bill itself–implementation would likely raise school fees. [cont.]
I won’t name names, but recently I helped out a friend occultist in California review Canadian cities to expatriate to. I sent him a bunch of info on crime, lifestyle, popular job markets, and some ethnic/religious backgrounds to the cities to help him decide which was more his flavour.
As we move into an era where identity exists more and more online, and who knows as more transhuman technologies become more mainstream over the next decade. Copyright, essentially communications in general, has become the quiet battleground in the American government. Because these Draconian laws benefit not only the corporations down there, but the right-wing zealous nuts who want the world safe for their Sears-inspired Christian regime, might I suggest you, too, look at moving abroad rather than putting up with the weird Fourth Reich that is bubbling and brewing.
For those of you not caring or fighting your government before it swelters and your personal freedoms are abandoned in favour of a “safe, secure Christian state,” please feel free to inquire with any of us Canadian occultists about which cities might be welcome to you. There’s always South America, Asia, or Europe if you’re thinking more exotic, and I have friends that are always flying down to South Africa to work.
For those of you that decide to fight on your native soil, kudos to you. To the rest of you, if you don’t feel it’s your battle, the world is your oyster. America is not the end-all, be-all of the human experience.
Just a friendly word from Fell. And if there is any interest, perhaps I should put together an Guide to Canada for American Counterculture Expats. Aforementioned Californian seemed to appreciate it and is checking out his city of choice this winter. And I know we’re not exactly 100% sovereign from the U.S.’s influence, but things are nowhere near the psycho state that is growing down there. =]
EDIT — A bit of a perception/context update for the SAFE Act, via the good boys at Ars Technica:
Despite hyperbole to the contrary, the SAFE Act that passed the House yesterday won’t force local coffee shops, libraries, and home users to monitor their network connections for child porn.