Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Free Speech, Free Commerce Threatened by "Free Trade" Champion

Go read this at Common Dreams, links at site:

WASHINGTON - October 23 - Hundreds of activist organizations had their internet service turned off last night after the US Chamber of Commerce strong-armed an upstream provider, Hurricane Electric, to pull the plug on The Yes Men and May First / People Link, a 400-member-strong organization with a strong commitment to protecting free speech.

"This is a blow against free speech, and it demonstrates in gory detail the full hypocrisy of the Chamber," said Andy Bichlbaum of The Yes Men. "The only freedom they care about is the economic freedom of large corporations to operate free of the hassles of science, reality, and democracy."

After suffering embarrassment at the hands of the Yes Men on Monday, the Chamber immediately threatened legal action, then followed through Thursday by sending a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice to Hurricane Electric Internet Services. In the DMCA notice, the Chamber claimed that the parody Chamber website operated by The Yes Men constituted copyright infringement, and demanded that the site be shut down immediately and that the creator's service be canceled.

Yes, let's not bother with the legal niceties of actually proving copyright infringement in a court of law. Hell, we might lose. Let's fuck with 'em like we have the right to do that like we would in a perfect Amurikkka. IOKIYAR.

But the Yes Men are not served directly by Hurricane Electric, but by May First / People Link. And when Hurricane Electric shut down the fake Chamber of Commerce site (now relocated), they also took down the websites of 400 other organizations.

May First / People Link fought back. They immediately "mirrored" the site, and then quickly negotiated with Hurricane Electric to restore service to their other members.

I'll bet the 'negotiations' involved phrases like 'restraint of trade' and 'sue yer shorts off'.

This isn't the first time a Yes Men site has found itself targeted by a DMCA complaint brought by a large corporation. The Yes Men have in the past received DMCA notices from Exxon, Dow Chemical, DeBeers, and the New York Times. In each case, the the Yes Men (represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation) refused to comply, and prevailed. Even the George W. Bush campaign sent a complaint to try to interrupt service to, in 2000, resulting in extensive ridicule that culminated in Bush's mind-boggling gaffe that "There ought to be limits to freedom."

So what's next? Complain about your utility company and they shut your electricity off because you can't call the emperor names?

The US Chamber of Commerce isn't really a chamber of commerce. It's just a bunch of throwback right winger lobbyists who think business and trade should be left alone to go its greedy way unfettered by law, science, or reason. There aren't as many of them as they say, and they're losing membership pretty quickly due to their ignorant stance on climate change. They're the wizard behind the curtain pretending they have great power when they actually have none. All they can do is bully and apparently this ISP fell for it. Chumps. Hey dudes, the Reagan/Bush era is over whether you like it or not.

They need to be prosecuted over this deal.

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