27. January 2012–
Unless you only read paperback books, listen to music on vinyl and watch movies in VHS format, you have by now migrated to the respective digital equivalents, but not if ACTA, the European equivalent of SOPA has its way.
In the last decade, we have widely acknowledged the potential of digital content sharing and the allure of illegal P2P file-sharing. The media industry stands in defence of its existence: going to extreme lengths to alter various business models and practices in order to compete with piracy and copyright violation.
Recently proposed legal amendments and agreements manifest this contention.
What will each country decide?
ACTA is an agreement between the EU and US to mutually thwart the exchange of copyrighted content. It grants extraordinary powers to governing bodies to either prosecute or shut down offending sites and individuals. YouTube, Facebook, or even SoundCloud may never have entered the arena if the law had previously existed.
Despite overwhelming opposition, this week, Poland and Austria joined 20 EU states (including the UK, France, and Italy) to sign ACTA in Tokyo. The US, Canada, Japan, and South Korea have previously committed. Germany has yet to confirm its participation, although based on its history (i.e. GEMA), will likely cooperate.
Anonymous joins the defense.
On Monday evening, radical hacker group Anonymous targeted the Austrian Department of Justice website with a DoS attack, disabling it for several hours. They had previously struck a number of Polish government websites, galvanising their position against the cooperative powers.
Your freedom is at risk.
Imagine posting a harmless photo of the Samwers, for example, and receiving a hefty fine in return. Freedom of speech is a cornerstone value of not only our Internet society, but civilization long before it. People have died for less.
This will also have cultural implications. Artistic mashups by artists such as girltalk, danger mouse, or local Berlin inspirers may soon be halted in their tracks.
Is our lawless foray into the social age coming to an end, or will we continue to bask?
Stay tuned. And read more about SOPA here.
Image credit: Flickr user Gruene_Leipzig