Fight for the Future


A look inside the closed-door DMCA meetings

Posted 11:49 EDT on May 17, 2016 Jeff and Andrew Lyon outside SF courthouse

Hey,

I’m Jeff, CTO at Fight for the Future. We recently teamed up with Channel Awesome to launch takedownabuse.org, a web protest to fight the ongoing mass censorship of the Internet due to abusive copyright takedowns under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Thanks to everyone who helped overwhelm the government with nearly 100,000 public comments, we were able to convince the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) to give us a seat at the table in their closed-door meetings on DMCA reforms. Mike from Channel Awesome and I traveled to San Francisco, eager to speak on behalf of everyone who took action at takedownabuse.org.

Unfortunately, the hearings appeared to be rigged against the public interest, and unless we step up our game, it’s looking very likely that the USCO will make the DMCA even worse, with major giveaways to the copyright industry that put SOPA-style restrictions on independent content creators.

Here are some of my experiences and thoughts about what we’re up against:

  • The “roundtable discussions” were closed-door meetings with limited seating that effectively shut the public out from the proceedings. No live streaming was available and very limited open microphone time made it nearly impossible for anyone who wasn’t an invited participant to speak.

  • Speaking of participants, the hearings were dominated by representatives and lobbyists from the copyright industry. Representatives from other public interest groups like Mozilla and EFF were completely outnumbered by organizations like the RIAA, MPAA, Digimarc and Copyright Alliance. You can see the participant list here, but the end result was the lobbyists were able to skew the discussions in their favor.

  • The copyright industry wants to eliminate the counter-notice process that people can use to fight DMCA takedown claims. Instead they want a “take down, stay down” system where website owners have to police user-uploaded content and proactively remove any copyrighted material. I argued that this would create an enormous burden for website owners and make it effectively impossible for users to upload copyrighted works in fair-use contexts (such as parody or political commentary).

  • The only time I saw the stone-faced regulators break from their serious demeanor was when it was the MPAA attorney’s turn to talk. After some some light-hearted joking banter with the regulators, the MPAA attorney suggested new legislation to take down entire websites (aka SOPA) for suspected copyright infringement.

  • There were repeated attempts by the copyright industry to discredit the nearly 100,000 public comments sent through takedownabuse.org. I sat next to the CEO of Copyright Alliance, who had previously likened us to “zombies.” One of the other participants accused us of engaging in a cyber attack. Both Mike from Channel Awesome and I argued passionately on behalf of everyone who submitted comments, that the Copyright Office needs to take the public input seriously. We are not robots or zombies or hackers! We are real people who are living with an Internet where fair use and free speech is under attack.

And here’s where the good news starts. The MPAA and RIAA wanted to go into these meetings and have a one-sided discussion where they could spread doom-and-gloom about how the Internet is destroying their business models. We made this impossible. They never expected to be facing down 100,000 public comments and the same people who helped kill SOPA. We called the industry to task for their abuse of the DMCA and we’re ready for anything they might throw at us next.

Speaking of that, the U.S. Copyright Office will open up another round of public commenting in the coming weeks. We don’t yet know whether they’ll take our concerns seriously, but we will have a lot more than 24 hours to get our comments in, regardless. Please stay tuned by signing up at www.takedownabuse.org and we’ll be sure to tell you when the next round of comments opens!

Sincerely,

Jeff Lyon
CTO, Fight for the Future

Read More...
Share on:

Internet activists stand in solidarity with striking Verizon workers

Posted 12:27 EDT on April 13, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2016
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Leading net neutrality advocates Fight for the Future say Verizon’s greed is bad for workers as well as the Internet

Today, more than 40,000 Verizon workers went on strike, demanding fair treatment from the telecom giant that grossed more than $4 billion in profit last year. Fight for the Future, a leading digital rights group best known for organizing some of the largest online protests in history, including the massive online protests against SOPA and in support of net neutrality, issued the following statement in support of Verizon workers, which can be attributed to campaign director, Evan Greer:

“Given everything we know about how terribly Verizon treats their customers and Internet users as a whole, it’s no surprise to us that they fail to show their employees basic respect as well.

Last year, they attempted to strike down net neutrality rules that protect the Internet as a platform for freedom of expression and exchange of ideas. The Internet rose up and we defeated them, gaining even stronger protections than the ones they sued to strike down.

Rather than treating their customers and employees fairly, Verizon has chosen to rely on political influence and corruption in a never ending quest to increase short term profits regardless of the long term cost to society.

We at Fight for the Future stand in solidarity with the striking Verizon workers, and with all Internet users who are fighting to defend the Internet from the attacks of monopolistic ISPs like Verizon.”

Verizon’s customers fought for net neutrality, and won. Verizon’s workers deserve to win fair treatment too, and we wish them success in their struggle.”

Please note: Greer’s correct pronouns are she/hers.

Fight for the Future was instrumental in the massive grassroots campaign that successfully pushed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact the strongest net neutrality protections in US. history last year. They built the page BattleForTheNet.com, which was responsible for more than ¼ of all the net neutrality comments received by the FCC during its feedback process, and were behind the Internet Slowdown protest, which was supported by more than 40,000 websites including some of the largest on the Web like Kickstarter, Etsy, Netflix, and Tumblr.  

The group also helped take the fight for net neutrality into the streets with creative protest campaigns like Occupy the FCC and the nationwide Internet Emergency protests.

Fight for the Future is continuing to work on defending net neutrality and the open Internet, as well as running campaigns against mass government surveillance, online censorship, and the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which contains problematic copyright provisions that will negatively impact Internet users’ right to freedom of expression.

###

Read More...
Share on:

Nearly 100,000 Internet users call for Copyright Office to improve Fair Use and Free Speech protections in DMCA

Posted 08:28 EDT on April 4, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 4, 2016
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Flood of comments from viral campaign and YouTube video launched by Fight for the Future and Channel Awesome crashed regulations.gov website last week

With hours to go before the U.S. copyright office’s deadline to receive comments about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA’s) “notice and takedown” process, digital rights group Fight for the Future and popular YouTube channel ChannelAwesome launched an online campaign and viral video encouraging Internet users to submit comments about the many ways that the DMCA is abused to censor and take down legitimate content from the Internet, stifling innovation, cultural creation, and freedom of speech.

See the online campaign here: TakedownAbuse.org

See the video here: https://youtu.be/NoIL5qUI1p8

The campaign was launched late Thursday afternoon. As Monday morning the video has already been viewed more than 360,000 times. The campaign has already generated more than 86,000 comments before the Copyright Office’s Friday deadline, and has since collected an additional 11,000, which will be delivered to the Copyright Office as a petition. The comments are in support of stronger fair use and free speech protections in the DMCA. Before the launch of the campaign last week, the Copyright Office had only received 80 (yes, eighty) comments. As of March 2nd, they had only received 23.

The flood of new submissions late last week repeatedly crashed the website that the government set up to receive feedback. Given that this site is the only method for concerned Internet users to submit comments, Fight for the Future is calling on the Copyright Office to consider the additional comments that came in after the deadline.

“The DMCA affects all Internet users and they should have an opportunity to express their concerns with the ways content is censored from the Internet, causing damage to free speech that can’t be undone,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, “The Copyright Office has a responsibility to make sure these voices are heard.”

“Copyright laws are among the biggest threats to freedom of expression in the digital age,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. “Taking down content from the Internet en masse doesn’t benefit artists and individual creators, it benefits large corporations. I supported my family as a musician for years before coming to Fight for the Future, and I believe creators should be compensated for their work. But the Internet is the best thing to ever happen to creative people and independent artists. We need to fight to defend it from those pushing censorship in our names,” she added.

“We need to have real open discussions on how to adapt copyright law and the DMCA to account for the modern Internet,” said Michael Michaud, who made the video for ChannelAwesome, “While we’re sure the DMCA is being used the right way at times, it’s also being used to silence speech, hold videos hostage, steal, and destroy content creators.  It’s also being used by companies that fail to account for Fair Use.“

Follow Fight for the Future on Twitter for breaking updates on this campaign, and contact press@fightforthefuture.org if you’d like to schedule an interview.

###

Fight for the Future is a digital rights nonprofit with more than 1.4 million members that works to defend the Internet as an open and powerful platform for freedom of expression. They are best known for organizing the largest online protests in history against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more on twitter or at FightForTheFuture.org

Read More...
Share on:

Copyright censorship is no joke. YouTubers and other Internet users deluge Copyright Office with 50,000 comments to fix the DMCA

Posted 07:52 EDT on April 1, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1st, 2016 (not a joke)
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Flood of comments crashes regulations.gov server, Fight for the Future calls on Copyright Office to extend deadline to ensure all comments are received

With hours to go before the U.S. copyright office’s deadline to receive comments about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA’s) “notice and takedown” process, digital rights group Fight for the Future and popular YouTube channel ChannelAwesome have launched an online campaign and viral video encouraging Internet users to submit comments about the many ways that the DMCA is abused to censor and take down legitimate content from the Internet, stifling innovation, cultural creation, and freedom of speech.

See the online campaign here: TakedownAbuse.org

See the video here: https://youtu.be/NoIL5qUI1p8

The campaign was launched late Thursday afternoon. The video has already been viewed more than 170,000 times, and the campaign has already generated more than 50,000 comments in support of stronger fair use and free speech protections in the DMCA. Before the launch of the campaign last night, the Copyright Office had only received 80 (yes, eighty) comments. As of March 2nd, they had only received 23.

The flood of new submissions over the last several hours appears to have repeatedly crashed the website that the government set up to receive feedback. Given that this site is the only method for concerned Internet users to submit comments, Fight for the Future is calling on the Copyright Office to extend its deadline to ensure that all comments are received and there is adequate time for the public participation. The tens of thousands of comments submitted to TakedownAbuse.org are being stored in a queue, and will be submitted to the Copyright Office’s form as quickly as they can reliably receive them.

“The DMCA affects all Internet users and they should have an opportunity to express their concerns with the ways content is censored from the Internet, causing damage to free speech that can’t be undone,” said Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, “The Copyright Office has a responsibility to make sure these voices are heard. They need to extend the deadline and make sure their website stays up and can receive comments the entire time.”

“Copyright laws are among the biggest threats to freedom of expression in the digital age,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. “Taking down content from the Internet en masse doesn’t benefit artists and individual creators, it benefits large corporations. I supported my family as a musician for years before coming to Fight for the Future, and I believe creators should be compensated for their work. But the Internet is the best thing to ever happen to creative people and independent artists. We need to fight to defend it from those pushing censorship in our names,” she added.

“We need to have real open discussions on how to adapt copyright law and the DMCA to account for the modern Internet,” said Michael Michaud, who made the video for ChannelAwesome, “While we’re sure the DMCA is being used the right way at times, it’s also being used to silence speech, hold videos hostage, steal, and destroy content creators.  It’s also being used by companies that fail to account for Fair Use.“

Follow Fight for the Future on Twitter for breaking updates on this campaign, and contact press@fightforthefuture.org if you’d like to schedule an interview.

###

Fight for the Future is a digital rights nonprofit with more than 1.4 million members that works to defend the Internet as an open and powerful platform for freedom of expression. They are best known for organizing the largest online protests in history against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more on twitter or at FightForTheFuture.org

Read More...
Share on: