I have a couple of suggestions for anyone keen to put on video screenings. A couple of docos that haven’t been shown publicly in Aotearoa yet, that I know of.

Good Copy, Bad Copy

Steal This Film (I and II)

(Part II is probably the stronger, and more polished of the two)

These films are about “intellectual property”, the right to copy, and the impact these things have on freedom of speech, freedom of gift exchange, and people’s ability to freely participate in the evolution of digital culture. Putting toll gates on the exchange of articles of knowledge, and cultural artifacts, hampers the free cross-pollination of ideas that could lead to radical solutions to the problems that face humanity today - state-corporate domination, peak oil, climate change etc

Worse, it concentrates the ownerships of knowledge, and the right to disseminate it, in the hands of elites, like those that run corporations, and nation-states - elites whose personal, short-term interests are diametrically opposed to the long-term interests of the majority of the world’s people. The last period of history in which an empire of co-operating elites controlled people’s access to knowledge was called the Dark Ages, and that empire was called Christianity. It’s “intellectual property” enforcers were called the Inquisition, and those who pursued unapproved research, or shared knowledge with the working people were imprisoned, tortured, and killed as heretics.

One tool that made a major contribution to the ending of the dark ages, and the spreading of skills like literacy, and numeracy, among people of all ages and classes, was the printing press. The ability to rapidly copy existing written works, and distribute copies to many people, was a critical part of the enlightenment, and the renaissance, that followed.

In our own age, the technologies of the internet are playing a similar role, allowing the infinite copying and redistribution of works of knowledge and culture. But the elite who have benefited from withholding the right to copy are not going to give up their privilege without a fight. Currently this is taking the form of international legal tools like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and intra-national regulations like the Australian governments new ISP-level internet filtering. Recent amendments to the NZ governments Copyright Act oblige ISPs to spy on their customers, or risk being help responsible for “theft of intellectual property” they might carry out.

These documentaries explore these issues, and look at systems like CreativeCommons which propose alternatives based on fair agreements between authors and their audiences. I encourage you to check them out, show them to other people, make copies, and pass them around, so the ideas they illustrate can become part of a broad public debate around these issues. Not only because that’s what it creators would want, but because you have a right, and arguably a moral duty, to share something that costs you nothing to replicate with your neighbour.

Hei kōnei rā

Strypes

Filed October 23rd, 2008 under documentary

This campaign seeks to clear the fog of confusion that surrounds these two things. All around us, we see public assets and community spaces, being either sold outright, or operated as if they have been. Even the grounds of the national house of representatives here in New Zealand is treated legally as the private property of the Speaker.

At the same time, our personal privacy - our right to go about our day without being monitored - is being constantly eroded. Surveillance cameras are popping up in more and more public places. Financial transactions take place via EFTPOS and other plastic cards, creating records of our movements and activities. The “Terrorism Suppression Act” and other laws are granting greater surveillance powers to police and other professional spies like the SIS and GCSB. Private investigators and security firms monitor us on behalf of corporate clients if we campaign publicly for a political issues which goes against their clients’ commercial interests.

Often private ownership of a space is considered justification for the denial of privacy. How much is your privacy respected in a mall, or when browsing a commercial website? Disintermedia rejects both the transfer of public goods into private ownership, and the political devolution towards a surveillance society, as incompatible with individual liberty, and the economic democracy that underpins it in an economy based on a high degree of specialization. The Privacy Not Privatization campaign will seek to shed light on the relationship between usurption of public space by elite interests and the erosion of privacy through generalized surveillance, by highlight current events connected with these issues, and offering practical advice on how to protect personal privacy.

Filed October 14th, 2008 under Uncategorized
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