Dr. Dawg

Copyright law abuse: an Egyptian case in point

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Blue brutality.jpg

Human rights campaigners in Egypt are under attack—by Blogger, Flickr and YouTube.

Fearless Egyptian citizens have been recording military abuses—torture, gender-based violence—but their work is being suppressed by these popular Internet vehicles. Even captured photos of secret police torturers have been subject to a “takedown notice” and removed.

Anyone with lingering doubts that the stalled-for-now SOPA/PIPA legislation in the US might be misused should check out this sorry tale—one of clear misuse of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

In fairness, the legislation forces the hand of these social media platforms. All that is required by law is a mere notification that certain content may be an infringement of copyright.

That’s sufficient. You’re guilty until proven innocent. YouTube even went the extra mile, disabling the account of Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas.

These are freedom fighters, in the midst of a desperate struggle against the brutal Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). They fight with cellphone, keyboard and videocam, at tremendous risk to themselves. And their efforts are being undermined by US legislation that was out of date before it was passed.

It shouldn’t take anyone more than a millisecond to figure out where the notifications of alleged copyright infringement are coming from. Why bother to hunt down bloggers, jail and torture them, when all you have to do is send an email? Who knew it could be this easy?

Well, the anti-SOPA folks sure did. And now it may be time to us to review—or simply resist—the DMCA as well. If it can be used to subvert popular uprisings, and protect an increasingly vicious military, I’d suggest that we are no longer in the abstract realm of intellectual property rights.

This is the real world, folks. People are dying. And Jurassic copyright legislation is putting us on the side of the killers.

[H/t Mattt]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on January 22, 2012 9:36 AM.

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