I made the idle comment to a friend that November 23rd was National Freelancers Day in the UK. After a couple of minutes of him rolling his eyes and twitching his mouth as he tried to get his head around the concept, he said, “They’ll all get the day off, then, I suppose?”
In fact, I don’t think a National Freelancers Day is an entirely ridiculous idea. Not that I think freelancers deserve any more tribute than factory workers or post-office clerks, but because freelancing nowadays is much more important in terms of the economy as a whole than it used to be (or at least it seems that way to me, I don’t have statistics to back me up). And if I am right, I think it reasonable that, on the one hand, people should be made aware of this sociological shift, and on the other, that freelancers should be given institutional and government support.
I do think ‘Freelancers Day’ should have been written with an apostrophe at the end of the first word, though. It should be placed after the ‘s, there being no ambiguity as in Mother’s/Mothers’ Day (is it a homage to your mother in particular, or mothers as a whole?). So I find it a little ironic that the authorities in question did not employ a competent freelance copywriter to name the day.
This video is unclassified because I have no reason at all for posting it, except – why not? Found on Futility Closet, the site of my semi-namesake, Greg Ross. A once-cuddly lion cub had outgrown his bourgeois pet status and been released into the semi-wilderness of a wildlife reserve to save his owners the trouble and expense of looking after him when he had grown, and they went to look for him a year later. This is what happened when they found each other.
Under the same headline as the above, myth-busting science journalist Ben Goldacre debunks the imaginary figures the industry pulls out of its hat to support its hysterical “jail file sharers” yapping. His conclusion is particularly in tune with my own feelings on the matter, though I would extend it to the entire lying-scumbag copyright sector: “as far as I’m concerned, everything from this industry is false, until proven otherwise.”
While I’m on my anti-Big-Industry high horse, a word of support for Pablo Soto. Pablo and his company MP2P Technologies are being sued by Warner Music, Universal Music, Emi, Sony and the Spanish record industry association PROMUSICAE, which seek the ridiculous sum of 13 million euros for competencia desleal, unfair competition. Pablo’s offences are a) to champion the P2P cause and b) to develop software which allows file sharing. The case is currently being heard by a court in Madrid and is expected to last no more than a day or two more, though it will be months before a verdict is made public and whoever loses will probably appeal, in any case.
It’s an important case for lots of reasons. All efforts by the copyright industries to prosecute copyright offenders in Spain have failed, because the law as it stands says that two premises need to be fulfilled – that there has been unauthorized “communication” of copyright-protected works and that it was motivated by a desire to profit. The single exception is the webmaster of a site in La Rioja called InfoPSP, AdriÃ¡n GÃ³mez Llorente, condemned in April, 1992. The word is that this sentence was the result of an agreement whereby he accepted a few months of prison and a fine of â‚¬4,900 and the prosecution promised to refrain from bringing a civil suit against him. In other words, blackmail.
The evident injustice and the lightness of the compensation awarded combined with the fact that in Spain, with very few exceptions, sentences of less than 3 years never entail the offender actually being sent to gaol, made it a hollow victory for the copyright sector. So the case against Pablo Soto represents a change of strategy by the copyright industries, beginning with a civil suit rather than a prosecution. Hence, we imagine, the absurdity of the numbers being thrown around.
I wish Pablo all the best and hope the consequences for him of this legal action are minimum or even positive (and if the sector were left with egg on its face again, that too would please me, I don’t mind confessing). Unfortunately, I am pessimistic. I feel that if PROMUSICAE’s legal thugs lose again, they will simply use it as an argument to put pressure on Spanish parliament to change the legislation, as the US copyright sector is lobbying. The clout of this sector is immense, which is why I have been blogging about it for the last couple of days, and I am afraid right-thinking governments like those of Spain or Canada will not have the long-term resistance to withstand it.
AFP reports that “Canada, China, Mexico, Russia and Spain have been singled out by members of the US Congress for “alarming levels” of piracy of copyrighted movies, music, video games and other entertainment.” This comes in the wake of the IIPA Special 301 I was talking about yesterday, and is surely not unrelated. Now, the “Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus, made up of more than 70 members of the Senate and House of Representatives, [has] placed the five countries at the top of their “2009 International Piracy Watch List”
So what is this International Anti-PIracy Caucus? It is a group of American politicans (international? They can’t mean an interntational caucus of US politicians, so they must mean “Anti-International Piracy,” was that too difficult a structure for them?) at the service of their constituents (quite rightly, too) who happen to be the same industries who pull the strings of the IIPA.
Should anyone outside the US take any notice? Most emphatically, no.
“Peer-to-peer (P2P) piracy in Spain is widely perceived as an acceptable cultural phenomenon, and the situation is exacerbated by a government policy that has essentially decriminalized illicit P2P file sharing.”
a) P2P is not synonymous with piracy
b) If P2P is perceived as acceptable, that means it is acceptable in Spain
c) P2P is not illicit under any circumstances, nor should it be criminalized to serve the interests of US industries.
So this is yet another example of the power of the copyright industries to bend truth. One senator is quoted as saying, “We must stop this destructive mindset.” And that is the name of the game – brainwashing.