Update 1/11/2011: Here is a video of me ranting about being asked not to photograph or video our children’s performance.

I’d like to apologise to anyone following this blog for news on CreativeCommons Aotearoa. I neglected to promote a number of developments since I helped transcode the CCKiwi into open formats in July, including an August meet-up of CC supporters at the Southern Cross in Te Whanganui-a-Tara in August, and another Welly meet-up just yesterday, focusing on examples of CC being used in projects. I also missed the boat on this year’s Open Access Week, which included a webcast session on climate science and how to make papers and the data they are based on more freely available.

A number of distractions have been occupying me, but most recently I’ve been at Occupy Wellington, an offshoot of the global Occupy Together movement inspired by the Arab Spring, the Spanish indignistas, and Occupy Wall St. Occupy is about shining a light on the social machinery which concentrates control of the world’s resources in the hands of 1% (or less) of the population. “Intellectual Property” is now one of the core cogs in that machinery, allowing private corporations to tax the productive work of others using a suite of laws and treaties (copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, plant variety rights etc) which supposedly protect innovators from unfair competition.

I noticed a classic example of this rent-seeking on my way down to Ōtautahi the other day, in a front-page newspaper article about the Restart project in the quake-ravaged city’s downtown mall. Apparently Restart’s use of shipping containers as temporary shops is an unauthorised copy of a similar pop-up mall created by a British company, who are now demanding royalties for the use of their “IP”. Talk about kicking people while they’re down.

“IP” functions by engineering scarcity to keep prices and corporate profits artificially high, enforced using tools like Digital Restrictions Management, and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (copyright); Genetically Modified crops, and terminator seeds (patents); and attacks on the manufacture of generic pharmaceuticals, and practitioners of non-drug medicine. The other night I experienced this at a performance of the Christchurch Schools Music Festival. Parents and whānau were told by staff at the CBS Arena that we couldn’t take photos or video of our children’s performance using our own cameras, because it was being professionally filmed, and a DVD would be availble for $35.

I have no problem with a commercial service offering higher quality video and sound, and the benefits of recording from a better vantage point. I do object to being told we can’t make our own recordings of our children in case it limits demand for that commercial service, reducing our children to a commodity to be sold back to us. The last time I checked, commodification of people was called slavery. A society where the 99% live a series of temporary slaveries, instead of a permanent one, is a society still in need of a democratic revolution.

Together we are the 99% - join us!

Filed October 28th, 2011 under Uncategorized

Jay, a fellow Indymediatista and co-conspirator in the IMC-Alternatives working group, has responded to the Occupy Wall St movement by putting up an open blog called But What Are You For? He invites people to write up a brief into, and two short pieces, a poetic vision of another world we think is possible, and some practical ideas for how to start evolving towards that vision. I’m going to contribute something before we Occupy Wellington, as part of the Global Day of Action on October 15. I hope others will too.

Filed October 12th, 2011 under Uncategorized

Just a quick note of support for the campaign against the Video Camera Surveillance Bill, who are requesting for urgent action to email MPs from the two parties which have yet to publicly announce whether they will vote for it. This Bill is an urgent ass-covering, following revelations in a NZ Supreme Court decision relating to the prosecutions against activists arrested in the Operation8 raids.

It has emerged that police routinely collect video evidence on private property, without a warrant, in ways that are illegal under the Bill of Rights Act, and probably the Privacy Act. The video evidence can still be admitted if a judge thinks the offence being prosecuted is serious enough. I have to wonder if judges can retrospectively approve murder of defendants by police, if the offence they are accused of is serious enough. Then I remember Steven Wallace. The naive attitude to police breaking the very laws that justify their power has become dangerously common in this country.

Being under constant video surveillance is  a core theme of dystopian literature, from Orwell’s ‘1984′, and Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451′, to Alan Moore’s ‘V for Vendetta’, and films like the Matrix, and Equilibrium. Such a loss of privacy is popularly associated with Fascist and Soviet-style police states, although the technology to implement did not actually exist during these regimes. More to the point, it goes against our basic right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

Many legal commentators have taken the conservative stance that police should be required to convince a judge of an overwhelming public interest, such as preventing an imminent murder, before they are allowed to ignore such rights. If police have such convincing evidence, surely they can make an arrest to prevent such irreversible harm? What kind of offence is serious enough to justify invasive policy spying, but not enough to justify physical intervention?

A society where laws codify social consensus does not need secret police. A society which uses secret police to defend elite privilege does not need more laws, its needs revolution.

Filed October 3rd, 2011 under Uncategorized
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