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Stallman on Anti-Piracy Web Blocking

Posted by gregwarner, 06 July 2011 · 667 views

The following is my response to this article:

The issue that is up for debate right now is whether there should be an institution with the power to immediately block websites from the entire internet if those websites are accused of violating some copyright. The easiest way to sum up is by quoting the article:

"AGCOM want to make that particular job as simple as possible by awarding themselves the most powerful tool available – the ability to remove content and block websites without a single court, judge or legal process getting in the way." para. 5

Stallman responds: “I believe that this an attempt by copyright owners to skip the legal system to attack sites and services that they consider a threat to their interests,”

I have to say, I largely agree with Stallman on this point (a rare occurrence for me) solely on the fact that this legislation would allow copyright holders to skip due process and legal action. In other words, they are declaring due process obsolete, and would rather bow to the copyright holder's impulsive wishes.

How do we know the copyright holders are actually in the right? How do we know the accused content is actually violating the copyright? We don't, until an investigation is undertaken, and we can't perform that investigation if due process is thrown to the wind. Whatever happened to the idea that one is "innocent until proven guilty?"

When action is taken before fault is confirmed, we deny the very premise that due process was built upon. We become a more barbaric society which assumes guilt and treats the accused as such. This is wholly unethical and unwise. There should be no such power on the internet to remove or block any accused content without due process and a conviction.

However, deviating from the intent of the article, Stallman takes an opportunity to promote his own agenda with the following quote:

"I propose a system to fund artists directly, based on their popularity, with taxes to give fair compensation [such as from a blank media levy].”

That's where I diverge from you, Stallman. See, I'm not comfortable with MY tax money going to pay artists whom I may or may not morally agree with. Art is a very controversial subject, with some forms of "art" being offensive to some individuals, while not to others.

If Stallman has his way, inevitably, at some point, there will exist a tax payer who morally objects to the art being produced by a publicly funded artist. How can we justify the compulsory giving of tax money to artists which we morally object to? It infringes on our basic freedoms as human beings. I will not be forced to financially support something that I morally don't. Stallman should think about this.

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At least in the US, the funding of offensive art is already well underway. The National Endowment for the Arts is tax money being used to pay for all manner of "art". Republicans are regularly railing against this funding because it has been used to fund highly offensive pieces over the years.
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