all the below text and more besides here
We live in a world of amazing possibilities, where talent and creativity reign. Unfortunately, we also live in a world gripped with greed and paranoia; fears which have led to the conception of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
Now, whether it was thanks to the online response of groups such as Anonymous, the massive protests in Poland, the resignation of the EU's rapporteur into the issue, or the public apology issued by the Slovenian signatory, the fact that you are here probably means you know something about ACTA already. If more information is needed, you should watch the video above. Once you're done, I'd like you to really sit down and think about what would happen if ACTA were to pass, and the internet as we know it were to die.
I'm sure we've all been bored of the internet at some point or another, but have you ever really thought about how magical it is? How truly brilliant it is to get the answer to almost any question you may have in seconds? To see any film, hear any song, or talk to any one of the 2.5 billion internet users out there?
I admit that it's easy to blow this bill out of proportion, at least to an extent. ACTA probably won't be the killing blow, but it's another step down the road that you can't take back. They've moved on from just monitoring terrorists and sex offenders online, now they're adding 'online pirates' to the watch list. Yes, filesharing is now just as likely to get you monitored. If you're OK with this, you may as well stop reading now.
So the question is, where does it end? Well, you have to remember that the people behind these bills don't tend to be the YouTube-type to say the least, and they really don't understand what we stand to lose here. But if they keep making the laws, then it's only a matter of time before we're left with their view of the perfect internet, and we move from the magical pixie land we know now to an admittedly efficient and clean, but thoroughly grey business platform; LinkedIn: the Only-Option Edition and a few inoffensive lolcats. I'm sure you now understand the gravity of the situation.
Now, there's been a buzzword floating around a lot lately, especially in connection with ACTA's little brother that you may know as the Irish SOPA, and that is 'innovators', so I think it's important we look at this in a bit more detail. Both ACTA and SOPA have been described as 'attempts to encourage innovators' and to remove their apparently crippling fear of putting their innovations online.
Let's get this straight, 'innovators' have not been in hiding since the dawn of the internet, quite the opposite in fact. One of the reasons the internet is worth defending is because of the tremendous creativity that can be seen even from a casual glance at certain websites. Bringing in laws to stop piracy will not suddenly cause a massive influx of people like Steve Jobs to start rushing to the patent office, nor will it cause people who are not already musically inclined to take up an instrument, because in case you haven't noticed, people who are unable to adapt to the way the world is changing generally tend not to be the most creative bunch anyway.
If anything, laws such as these will kill the bulk of modern innovation, as being influenced by a good song is not just suddenly considered a bad thing, the vague definition of 'intellectual property' means that it is now a crime. This is something I haven't been able to get my head around since I left primary school actually. Once we enter the 'real world', we are expected to be motivated by a desire for personal wealth and glory. What happened to doing something for the common good? The idea of charity, or co-operative thinking? Is 'sharing is caring' a concept we're supposed to grow out of at some point?
I can guarantee without the slightest hint of a doubt that the real innovations (and I'm truly starting to despise that word) will come from internet users such as yourself, and not from the financial department of the Recording Industry Association of America.
And so, we come to the end of the rant, and if you've read this wall of text, you have both my respect and admiration, but I must ask you one last favour. Join the March on the 18th of February, and show your support for the cause we're fighting for.
We are here because we believe in the potential of the internet as a tool for the good of the human race, in the insane beauty of the internet as it is, despite its flaws.
We are here because we do not believe in giving such a vague, blank cheque to anyone, least of all to people who saw fit to keep us in the dark.
We are here because we do not believe democracy means letting the greed of a few cut into the freedom of so many.
We are here because we have had enough.