Text of my speech to the antiACTA protest in London February 11th.
Text of my speech to the antiACTA protest in London February 11th. I may have improvised on this a bit…
So this is what the Internet looks like.
Well it’s good to see you as frankly these last few years it has felt as if the Internet has been under siege.
But now are you ready to strike back?
Just the latest example of the threat was the SOPA bill in the United States, a piece of extreme anti-Internet legislation which provoked a huge outcry. The fact that this outcry led to the derailing of SOPA was a significant victory for web freedom campaigners. Now the focus has to change to ACTA. Tens of thousands of people are coming out on to the streets across Europe in a huge wave of protest. We are seeing the birth of a European Spring in defence of digital rights and civil liberties.
Our enemies have tried to characterise us as misinformed and extreme. Yet even the Economist has described ACTA as “potentially draconian”. Are Amnesty International and Medicins sans Frontieres misinformed when they warn this treaty will harm human rights and the ability of developing countries to access generic drugs? I think not.
This treaty gives the entertainment industry significant extrajudicial power over the web. It specifies criminalising “aiding and abetting” copyright infringement - so it takes in all Internet actors, blogs, sites, Internet service providers, even potentially links. It unleashes the copyright cops.
La Quadrature du Net has warned that this agreement paves the way for automated blocking, filtering of communications and deletion of content. No one can tell me that this will not harm freedom of expression.
We know that there is already collateral in the rights holders’ pirate hunt.
Sheffield student Richard O’Dwyer faces extradition to the US and 10 years prison just for making a site with links. I was told about yet another video that was taken down yesterday for alleged music copyright infringement. It did not have a single note of music on it. I am afraid that we will see these kind of abuses on an industrial scale with ACTA.
Speaking of music, it is very moving for me to be here at the British Music headquarters today. As an activist, as a citizen, but above all as a musician and composer. I am fed up to the back teeth with the entertainment industry pretending that they represent artists. The are self appointed fat cats that represent nothing but their own narrow self interests.
BPI you do not speak for me.
PRS you do not speak for me.
Feargal Sharkey you certainly do not speak for me.
We are continually told that there is a piracy crisis. There is no crisis. In the US more music was sold than ever before last year. In the UK sales volumes increased. This was driven by digital. Culture needs a free and functioning web. No one has shown me credible evidence that ACTA will put any more pennies in my pocket, or any one elses.
Do not let anyone tell you this treaty is for the sake of artists.
The numbers of people out on the streets in Poland have been an inspiration. We know the combination of protest and political pressure works. The Polish government has suspended the ratification process. They have been joined by the Czech republic, Slovakia, Latvia and Germany. However we can not stop here.
ACTA has only taken an arrow to the knee.
Today we must aim for the heart.
Today we must finish it off.
Can we beat ACTA?
Yes we can. Because beat it, we must.