Hi everyone, I haven’t posted anything here for a really long time now and am coming back because I just wrote this post on Facebook and realized that it’s more of a blog thing really… OK, there we go.

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The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was a proposed multinational treaty for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement.

When first introduced in 2012 it met a lot of critisicm. As of yesterday, ‘ACTA2’ is a thing for of Europe’s Member States (and people are panicking) so I thought I’d share my opinion and a little bit of information. Please note, I’m not a lawyer. And I don’t think I know it all. It’s just my opinion.

You should always obtain someone’s agreement for sharing their works before you do so. Online piracy is not a standard, it’s theft. And how offended we are with ACTA2 shows how much used to it we got. And yeah, sure, I streamed movies before, I used books found online for writing my uni papers. Not saying I’m any better; I’m just not going to expect the law to protect that kind of behaviour.

Very important part of the document is this: ‘These rights shall not apply to private or non-commercial uses of press publications carried out by individual users’. So yeah, Internet will work like books or CDs: it’s OK to lend someone your book and talk about it with them. It’s OK to quote and show exerpts. It’s not OK to reprint half of the book for the purpose of your own book and make money off the sales without first purchasing the rights to do so.

Another important bit of the legislation: ‘Member States shall ensure that users in all Member States are able to rely on the following existing exceptions and limitations when uploading and making available content generated by users on online content sharing services:
a) quotation, criticism, review,
b) use for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche.’

Also, regarding spreading cultural/scientific heritage, ‘Periodicals which are published for scientific or academic purposes, such as scientific journals, shall not be considered as press publications for the purposes of this Directive.’ So you are still allowed to share scientific knowledge and use periodicals found online to write your thesis (example: yours truly these days, sad long days).

Another one: ‘Member States shall provide for an exception or limitation to the rights (…) in order to allow the digital use of works and other subject-matter for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching [here are lots of points about it’s extent… just read the document. And if you don’t have time or will to get uber bored, read what EU’s website says about the document HERE]’

So I think that this document makes a lot of sense and it rather reasonable. It should be read first, before panicking and supporting all the websites claiming it’s ‘the censorship directive’ because they’re also the same websites that copy over most of their content and then make money off the ads on their page.
I hear someone say it’ll stop memes from existing… nothing will stop the memes. Not even nuclear war. Also someone would have to first complain and ask for taking their meme down. Will you, Jenna, or do you want your silly cat pic with a description to go all over the globe?! 😉

A valid argument is that text and data mining (crucial for modern research an AI development) will be confusing. ACTA allows for text and data mining to be a thing in some cases, but not others. Rightholders could opt out of having their data datamined by anyone who isn’t a research organization (is it this bad?).
There is no easy answer to this one and I’m not 100% how I feel about it. I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is: do we value artificial intelligence and its works more than human intelligence and its works?

I also heard someone saying that this will kill music and musicians’ online activity. That if you can’t use samples you’re not free. Really? Cause I feel like if you’re already not allowed to just take someone’s work. And sure, you can register and pay royalties… but have you heard about Geoff Barrow of Massive Attack? His Invada Records in based in the office building where we work and just the other day he posted on Twitter complaining about Lil Pump using his and Ben Salisbury’s track for ‘his deeply fucking sexist song [‘Racks on Racks’]. He said that they didn’t give clearance. I also love how he added, ‘As 2 fathers of daughters this shit needs to seriously fuck off.’ He also started his Tweet with ‘who is Lil Pump’ which made me very happy.

So the question is: do we value people’s freedom to take for free whatever they want and use for whatever they want more than we value copyright and creator’s rights to keep the message spreading only in the right context? Afterall if they want it to be available for all to use, they just have to state it and ‘is coooooool man’.

Coming back to the ‘protect musicians’ argument that’s used by some (including I believe that if you’re a musician, you either play standards and royalties for them are being played, or you create your own tracks. Sampling someone’s music and then adding a beat and some urban lyrics isn’t creating, it’s basically talking on top of someone else’s music. And if you’re making money off it or making it public, if you call it your own song, if you add to it a message that the original piece did not carry – that’s artistic abuse, not freedom. That’s abusing the rights of the musician; you know, the person who actually wrote and played music, who knows how to play an instrument (or, I guess, who knows how to use music harmony + a computer) and who doesn’t claim that if they’re song is 50% Amazing Grace it’s title should be ‘lick me nips’.

Back to notslamming shitty rappers.
I haven’t finished reading the document yet (spent a lot of my working day today on it tho!) and there may be some dark surprises… but I wanted to share this post when I still remember what I was thinking as I was reading the directive.

Please let me know what you think about it. Are there any disturbing points that the directive makes that you’d like to share and discuss?

PS ah, the irony of this post 😉