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Determined To Silence Us All
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Big Business Interests About To Hammer Internet Freedoms

By James Donahue

An alarming report in The Daily Kos this week noted legislation recently passed in the United Kingdom, the Digital Economy Act, is heading for the United States and most other parts of the world. Once enacted, this malicious law, sought by a powerful coalition of media interests, threatens to put most Internet blog sites out of business and prohibit violators from having an IP address.

In short, the Digital Economy Act will block free exchange of information and destroy the marvel that the Internet has become and all that it promises to be.

The bill as it exists in the UK gives the government the power to censor websites considered “likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.” If such a censorship occurs, the government can “disconnect the Internet connection of any household in the U.K. with an IP address alleged to have engaged in copyright infringement.”

Notice that the censorship can occur even if the website is considered “likely to be used” in copyright infringement. In other words, a true violation of copyright does not have to actually occur. This implies a sweeping power of government to shut off any website that is publishing information that someone in high places finds objectionable.

Rights holders could have the power to demand that sites they believe may infringe upon their copyright material be blocked.

Opponents of the law argue that it is not the perpetrator that is punished, but the owner of the connection. Thus the disconnection can hit people who are innocent of any wrongdoing simply because a friend uses their computer and violates the law. Also, if the website is wireless and unprotected, or a neighbor somehow gets the password, the violation may occur without the IP owner’s knowledge or consent.

Cafes, motels and bars that allow wifi Internet connections to clients also may be punished by this law.

If you think this is just the UK’s problem and will never happen in the United States, guess again.

The Daily Kos report stated that similar legislation is being secretly negotiated “by a consortium of nations in a new trade agreement called the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.” The United States is involved in these negotiations.

While the brunt of the pressure appears to be coming from the music and film industry that is concerned about the extensive theft of copyright protected material via the Internet, many newspapers and news providers like the Associated Press also are concerned about the blatant copying of stories from their websites to the vast number of “news” outlet blogs and websites operating on line.

Since the web has become such an amazing source of information it has become common practice for websites to turn to a variety of Internet sources to support and even copy material for important articles.

This report, for example, quotes from specific portions of The Daily Kos article. In doing so, however, we name our source and we do not copy the story verbatim.  As is our custom, we include our own editorial commentary.

If such a law goes into effect in the United States, we predict that independent news and information sites will disappear. Any trace of investigative journalism will be gone. Left will be the information we are dished out by the people in power. The concept of a “free” press will be a thing of the past and the serfdom of the dark ages will be reinstated.