Positive protesting

Yesterday I wrote about the anti-ACTA protests taking place across Europe, which prompted a very interesting tweet discussion with Geraldine Juarez (Storify in Spanish here). The gist of the argument is that Geraldine disagrees that there is no reason to protest, while my argument continues to be that people have been fed inaccuracies to get them incensed against an agreement that does not offer an important threat.

This got me thinking about the difference between positive and negative protesting. It is always easier to get people to protest AGAINST something, instead of FOR an ideal, and ACTA is precisely one of those occasions. I have read with interest today a very telling piece in EDRI about how positive has ACTA been for the European Parliament. In other words, ACTA has served to enhance the Parliament’s power within the European institutional system, which is quite an ironic turn. I would argue that the same has happened for Pirate Parties, NGOs and other people who favour more balance in copyright. It is easier to bring people to your camp by presenting ACTA as the bogeyman.

However, there is room for positive protest within the context of ACTA. In our discussion, Geraldine accurately mentioned several of them. The lack of transparency and the plutocracy in the pocket of industry lobbyists is one of the nefarious causes and consequences of ACTA, so one can take the opportunity to argue in favour of openness, and for an end to one-sided dominance of the few in the democratic process.

It is time that we stop being reactive and start proposing a positive agenda. This has already been taking place in several fora: COMMUNIA’s policy recommendations on the public domain, the Washington Declaration on Intellectual Property and the Public Interest, the Internet Freedom Movement, and other similar positive approaches offer the way to go in the future.

I’m off to practice poses for my next conference.

Comments 3

  1. Andres, first at all. I was coming back from protesting not only against ACTA, but against a parody of democracy and in my case PRO culture. First all. reading your post was horrible and ofensive as i said.

    Said that, part of my reaction is because i think not only institutional efforts are per se useful. Sure they can be positive but the impact is not necessarily positive, in the sense of that is achieving something. Sure protesting neither. Negative protesting for me is means to say no without given an alternative. You can say NO, as in negative, given an alternative too and doing something beyond tweeting NO. Also you can say no no no no and no and do nothing more. And might even be legit too.

    In my case. I tweet NO, Protest NO but also work actively participating and creating within the kind of cultural space i want.

    I support some of this "positive" agenda. Specially the ones related with the Washington Declaration you mention. But for me is clear that efforts that happen within an institutional environment are just one part of a super broad spectrum which is the political space. And this is what i refer with the pose thing.

    There are looots of conferences all the time. In fact too many, the same things are repeating over and over.. and policy is worst than ever before.

    The real positive thing is that people is getting active, affecting directly the political decisions. And hands down most of the thousands where in the ACTA protests in february, were not aware of the positive agenda, in conferences or aware of the legalistic stuff around copyright. It is not a requirement.

    A positive agenda for me also include non institutional efforts and dissent. Saying NO is the first step to get involved in something. When you dont like something or affects your immediate environment, you first say NO. The various degrees or engagement and articulation against something a person dislike will always vary. You cannot expect kids, which now are getting active against ACTA, know about all the legalistic and institutional agendas, positive or not, the lawyers or "experts" work on. Specially in such twisted and complicated law, like copyright.

    Politics are not only about the law. Specially a useless toxic one like copyright law, that touches everything beyond law. It goes against our everyday life activities.

    I recently interview Joe Karaganis, he said something awesome: "What lawyers and economists were doing so bad?" http://alt1040.com/2012/06/propiedad-intelectual-

    There is nothing negative about people engaging in politics. Protesting against a rotten policy making trend is hardly negative.

  2. Sorry que me meta acá, pero un par de ideas.

    Uno, no entiendo muy bien todavía por qué Geraldine se ofendió con el artículo. Uno puede o no estar de acuerdo con la tesis de Andrés, pero creo que tiene un punto respecto del activismo online, de la diferencia entre 'oponerse a algo' versus oponerse a algo porque creo en algo distinto. Comprendo el punto de Geraldine sobre el valor político de 'oponerse' pero la verdad es que en un contexto tan enrarecido y complicado como el de la lucha por los derechos en internet también es importante el rigor. Y saber, en ese sentido, por qué se está peleando con tanta fuerza.

    Dos, creo que hacer una distinción entre activistas y abogados es perder el foco de la discusión. 'Activismo' y protestar está muy bien, es imposible hacer cosas solo haciendo click en una oficina calefaccionada. Pero es poco lo que se puede hacer también con solo protestar sin tener claros los problemas de fondo y, -quizás, si aceptamos el punto de Andrés- también cómo resolverlos.

    Y yo creo en las dos cosas.

    1. Yo no creo que el "activismo" es simplemente de protestar o ONGS. por cierto De hecho no me encanta que cualquier ciudadano que actúa es llamado "activista".

      hay abogados activistas, es decir activos, que actúan directamente. Tipo Derechos Digitales. hay activismo legal, tipo Creative Commons. Hay activismo académico, tipo InfoJustice.

      Es importante el rigor, pero no puedes esperar que todo mundo tenga el rigor que tú deseas. Especialmente en una ley tan estupidamente complicada como la de copyright, que si no eres abogado (y ni asi) no puedes entender todas las implicaciones legales, aunque eso no se necesita, para entender como algo afecta tu vida cotidiana, simplemente un día te das cuenta que hay alg que no te gusta, y si no eres tonto, actúas para evitarlo de la mejor forma.

      pero si, abogados que no tienen rigor, eso si me parece inaceptable… y esos son los que hacen las leyes….

      Lo que me molesta es que se crea que solo la acción legal cuenta, no es así. Lo político va más allá de las leyes. Y los daños que nos hace el copyright también. Muchos, que no somos abogados y no somos "activistas", creemos que un ecosistema cultural más sano, es posible, a pesar de la ley.

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