Free Speech for a Price? Corporations and Government Shutting Down Websites

5 Aug

By: Zach

Free Speech for a Price? Corporations and Government Shutting Down Websites By Zachary R – July 23, 2010

For the first time in all of human history mankind is politically awakened – that’s a total new reality – it has not been so for most of human history.” – Zbigniew Brzezinski, May 2010

free speech

The duties of citizenship in the United States of America began during colonial times as an active civic participation in local government marked by frequent public debate on matters of issue and broad participation in democracy. A variety of factors and forces changed this relationship over the nation’s history.

Today, citizenship is essentially a legal status signifying a right to live and work in the nation as well as enjoy certain rights and privileges defined by law.

In our modern society many still practice the spirit of civic participation via the internet through blogs, alternative news sites and forums.

Recently however a growing number of strange, seemingly unreal reports have been popping up across the internet concerning your right to free speech on the internet. Think I’m kidding?

The news that the government pressured Burst.net to take down 73,000 websites still hasn’t made much of a mark in the mainstream media.

Although early reports stating the target of the government action may have been piracy or file sharing, it is now clear tht the agency behind the takedown of Blogetery.com was not the office of the Intellectual Property Czar and that the Digital Millenium Copyright Law may not have been involved. The new story is that the target was an online magazine called Inspire which has connections to al-Qaeda and was designed as a terrorist recruiting and training tool.

While some basic facts have come out, many aspects of this story still appear to be mostly speculation with key information still withheld by the parties involved. Many questions remain about the nature of any crimes involved and the rights of users in such a situation.

It was noted at blogcritics at the time that this is the first use of the DMCA on this scale and it has frightening implications for the future.

Under the act no warrant or any kind of due process is required because the government makes its request directly of the ISP involved and can penalize it administratively if it fails to comply. There is no standard for proof of illegal activity and the target of the action has no protection under the act.

Many on both the right and left are concerned that this could lay the groundwork for the shut down of political sites critical of the administration, either arbitrarily or as part of some future campaign finance or net neutrality legislation.

Anti-Government Media Censored?

Right after the Burst.net shutdown internationally recognized veteran broadcaster, documentary filmmaker, and investigative journalist Alex Jones found his hard hitting documentary The Obama Deception mysteriously removed from YouTube in what many are calling an act of censorship.

Alex and members of his staff at infowars believe the video could have only been pulled from behind the scenes at Google or by a government-level cybersecurity admin with access to YouTube records, as the passwords were carefully guarded and unlikely to be guessed at.

The film, which has been attacked before, was censored at a critical time.

It has since been reposted, however many are still questioning how and why it was removed.

Main Stream Media is Aggressively Fighting to Monetize News Content

Borrowing a page from patent trolls, the CEO of fledgling Las Vegas-based Righthaven has begun buying out the copyrights to newspaper content for the sole purpose of suing blogs and websites that re-post those articles without permission. And he says he’s making money.

“We believe it’s the best solution out there,” Gibson says. “Media companies’ assets are very much their copyrights. These companies need to understand and appreciate that those assets have value more than merely the present advertising revenues.”

The Associated Press and Reuters, each of which publishes thousands of pieces of material each day, are among the company’s clients, and a number of large magazines and newspapers have been in talks with Attributor. Executives at both wire services said they were still adapting the software to their needs and deciding how to respond to its findings, but they do not doubt it will have some long-term value.

“For the first time, we now have a consistent way of getting this data and knowing what actually happens to our product, rather just ad hoc reports,” said Srinandan R. Kasi, vice president and general counsel for The Associated Press, which has used the software for several months.

For newspapers and magazines, financial survival increasingly means raising traffic on their Web sites and revenue from online ads. Executives of some major publishers, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss their talks with Attributor, said they were somewhat optimistic that such software can help.

“People are settling with us,” says Thomas Dunlap, the head lawyer of the Copyright Group’s litigation. The out-of-court settlements, the number of which he declined to divulge, are ranging in value from $1,500 to $3,500 — about the price it would cost defendants to retain a lawyer. The RIAA’s settlements, which it collected in nearly every case, were for roughly the same amounts.

Gibson claims Righthaven has already settled several lawsuits, the bulk of which are being chronicled by the Las Vegas Sun, for undisclosed sums.

One defendant who is ready to settle is Fred Bouzek, a Virginia man who runs bikernews.net, a user-generated site about hardcore biker news. He was sued last week on allegations the site ran a Las Vegas Review-Journal story about police going under cover with the Hell’s Angels.

Even if he had grounds to fight the case, he says it would be cheaper to settle. “The only choice I have is to try to raise money and offer a settlement,” he says.

Bill Irvine of Phoenix says he is fighting infringement allegations targeting AboveTopSecret.com, the site he controls under The Above Network. The site is accused of infringing a Review-Journal article on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The site is a user-generated discussion on “conspiracies, UFO’s, paranormal, secret societies, political scandals, new world order, terrorism, and dozens of related topics” and gets about 5 million hits monthly, Irvine says.

In yet another case godlikeproductions (GLP), a web forum where breaking news and world events are posted for discussion, the owner of the site Trinity claims he too has been victimized by what he calls “Attributor Running an Extortion Scam on Behalf of Reuters Against GLP!”

“Fair use applies here as we are a discussion forum…”

He goes on to say, “First in my opinion, they tried to extort us for money in the form of “license fees” concerning use of their news articles. When we refused to pay them for “discussing the news” they decided to go after our advertising account with google. I will not yield to what I view as strong arm extortion tactics.”

He has decided to fight. In a post titled It’s “All Out War On Alternative Media Sites!!!! – We Must Form A Coalition!!” he’s placed a call that all bloggers, alternative news websites and individuals to come together to fight what many believe will ultimately lead to the end of free speech on the internet, possibly shutting it down all together.

Many don’t realize it isn’t just the internet and free speech that is at risk. Just a few weeks ago the U.S. government issued a rule making it a felony crime for any blogger, journalist, reporter or photographer to approach any oil cleanup operation, equipment or vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone caught is subject to arrest, a $40,000 fine and prosecution for a federal felony crime.

But this was all predicted years ago.

Back during the Bush administration, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a specific steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did.

Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy – but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

Americans like me were born in freedom so we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree – domestically – as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government – the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens’ ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors – we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled.

Also, as we don’t learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of “homeland” security – remember who else was keen on the word “homeland” – didn’t raise the alarm bells it might have.

Naomi Wolf wrote these when Bush was in office in her book titled The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriotir?t=morichesdaily-20&l=as2&o=1&a=193339

10 Steps that Close an Open Society

  1. Invoke an internal and external threat – People who are afraid are willing to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do.
  2. Establish secret (unaccountable) prisons where torture takes place – In a secret system, the government does not have to provide any proof of wrongdoing by those it holds, so it can incarcerate anyone it wants.
  3. Develop a paramilitary force – A private military force — under the exclusive direction of the “commander in chief” with no accountability to Congress, the courts, or the public — blurs the line between a civilian police force and a militarized police state.
  4. Surveillance on ordinary citizens – People who believe they are being watched are less likely to voice opposition. To scare a population into silence, the government need only monitor the activities of a few to make everyone fear that they are being surveilled. Every closed society keeps a “list” of so-called opponents it tracks.
  5. Infiltrate citizen’s groups – Spies in activist groups put psychological pressure on genuine activists by undermining their trust in one another. They may also disrupt legal activities, undermining the effectiveness of group efforts.
  6. Detain and release ordinary citizens – Detention intimidates or psychologically damages those arrested and also lets everyone know that anyone could be labeled an “enemy combatant” and “disappeared.”
  7. Target key individuals – People are less likely to speak out when those who are highly visible, like journalists, scholars, artists, or celebrities, are intimidated or have the livelihoods threatened. Targeting those who are especially visible makes it less likely that people will speak out and robs society of leaders and others who might inspire opposition.
  8. Restrict the press – The public is less likely to fi nd out about government wrongdoing if the government can threaten to prosecute anyone who publishes or broadcasts reports that are critical of the government.
  9. Recast criticism as espionage and dissent as treason – People who protest can be charged with terrorism or treason when laws criminalize or limit free speech rather than protect it.
  10. Subvert the rule of law – The disappearance of checks and balances makes it easier to declare martial law, especially if the judiciary branch continues to exercise authority over individuals but has no authority over the Executive branch.

If we (the community) can work together responsibly then there is a bright future in news as a service. Most certainly vital news, education and information should never be used as a sales tool that does not include the entire community and violates a right to that inforamtion in a easily accesable manner.

If we do not act now and exercise our right to free speech, then it will be taken away. Either by the government to quell a rising anger within the population against issues many feel are spiraling out of control, or by the desperate main stream news organizations whom are finding advertising profits fall and readership in so called “old media” channels decline.

Comment and speak out against the corporations and government shut down of websites. Fight to keep the spirit of civic participation alive in well in our country!

Spread the Word!

And be sure to check out the Facebook Group, they have suggested a Boycott on REUTERS

About the Author

Moriches Daily is a News Blog. If you liked this story email the author news@morichesdaily.com.

Zach is an admitted news junkie, writer, and IT specialist with 20 years experience. Born and raised in Long Island, New York he felt now is the time to give the community fair, accurate and unbiased news reporting without charge.

“I hope you find our reporting interesting. I urge everyone in the community to get involved and submit a story – I look forward to reading your great news items!”

(ArticlesBase SC #2892456)

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/Free Speech for a Price? Corporations and Government Shutting Down Websites

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