1709 Blog: for all the copyright community

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Cat Signal: it's launch day!

A new lobby group, the Internet Defense League, is launching today to fight so-called copyright crackdown legislation. Members include Mozilla, WordPress and Reddit, who join together in "Protecting Free Internet Since 2012".

The group "takes the tactic that killed SOPA & PIPA and turns it into a permanent force for defending the internet, and making it better. Think of it like the internet's Emergency Broadcast System, or its bat signal!"

How does it intend to do this? By offering a code that can be embedded in members' websites. The League says that "When the internet's in danger and we need millions of people to act, the League will ask its members to broadcast an action. (Say, a prominent message asking everyone to call their elected leaders.) With the combined reach of our websites and social networks, we can be massively more effective than any one organization"

Look out today for the group's "cat signal" which is being blasted all over the internet, and tonight for the image being projected into the sky, Batman-style (on the opening night of The Dark Knight),  in London, San Francisco, New York, Washington DC and Ulaanbaatar.

Copyright is high on the political agenda in North America and in Europe, so this is undoubtedly the right time to lobby. The law is evolving in an attempt to catch up with technology and both rightsholders and users need to take action to ensure that the changes decided on are not to their detriment.

The Internet Defence League's coordinated approach is helpful: a united voice will hold much more sway than each company could on its own. However members of the group do choose on a case-by-case basis whether to participate in alerts, and the views in alerts are not always endorsed by all members. It will be interesting to see how this pans out in practice.

The League says: "We are very happy to be sharing a launch date with Batman. Everyone who took part in defeating SOPA, PIPA and ACTA this year are legitimate real-life superheroes. Sure, the film's parent company probably has bats$%&# crazy plans for our internet (and yes, they gave a role in the movie to a pro-PIPA Senator). But Batman? He's awesome."

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