By John Johnson
Corporations control most of our “official” political structure. But up from the roots they see a growing resentment that began in 1999 with demonstrations around the world against the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other institutions who were determined to monopolize the world’s capital.
Then came the two rigged elections of George Bush the Junior and the Iraq War and corporations became complacent. They transferred trillions of the world’s wealth into their own pockets with the help of the Banks and Wall Street, using the housing crisis and corrupt mortgages.
After a very lackluster (token) effort by the Obama Administration to curb some of the abuses, the 2010 elections turned the tide again. After a year a small group started Occupy Wall Street. The powers thought it would soon fade but it didn’t. New York Mayor Bloomberg was ordered to crack down and out came the pepper spray, billy clubs and mass arrests. The movement spread around the country and the world. Orders came down again and Oakland Occupiers were attacked, followed by assaults on other Occupy events around the country including the one in LA. Occupy continued to grow.
The next strategy was to after the main organizing venue, the Internet, with the two well funded corporate Acts: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or PIPA). Supposedly they were designed to go after copyright infringements of songs, movies and software. But they were written so broadly that anyone who remotely had a link to a link to a page that might have such software on a site could be targeted, fined or arrested.
The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) in the past wanted to outlaw VCR’s, then Cable TV, and DVR’s etc. Members have threatened lawmakers to support these acts or lose campaign funds. Even former Senator Dodd, who was a lobbyist for MPAA said, “Those who count on quote Hollywood, unquote, for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their jobs are at stake.”
But a massive Internet and Public protest has derailed these Acts, at least for the moment.
These proposed laws were not about “piracy,” they were corporate end runs to control the Internet, and limit citizens’ ability to practice democracy.
Corporations already exert enormous control over in the Internet, as do Internet providers. Google is a corporation. But there are alternatives.
While it won’t derail the fascist freight train, one thing journalists and other information providers can do to help thwart SOPA et al, is to label each print or electronic submission (when willing to do so) under Creative Commons (CC). This permits the author to custom design an alternative to the conventional copyright and to “licence” the rights of others to reproduce their intellectual property without restriction (or with much fewer and far less constraining restrictions such as attributing the author, not using the work commercially or revising it, etc. See creativecommons.org.) Songwriters, creative writers and artists also use this system, and many may choose to do so if they recognize that legislation – supposedly to protect them – is actually being used to suppress free speech. Using (CC) does not revoke one’s right to use conventional copyrights, when that is the preference, but it does tell the government, loud and clear, that no piracy is taking place.
Heck, we could go back to the Bulletin Board System days if we had to.
And remember, we built a massive movement in the Sixties, without the Internet or Email. Who’s to say we can’t do it